US Customs undoubtedly has as lot on their plate. The Tea Act of 1773, created a loophole so that the British East India Trading company would pay taxes to The Crown. England helped the company eliminate old products while ensuring a windfall of taxed income.
As a result, to this day, tea is untaxed, untariffed and undutied as an imported item into the US regardless of where it is imported from.
Fun personal story, in the early days of the tea business, I would bring supplies of tea with me as I traveled back from Taiwan in my suitcases. Because I was planning to sell the tea, I would check the box that says I am carrying commercial goods. I didn’t want to get into any trouble. The response from the customs agents would vary. On one occasion the officer took out his buoy knife that though it seemed to be overcompensating for something, was kept out on his hip all the same, for this exact exchange. The massive knife, freed from its sheath, easily pierced my bag of oolong. As some of the tea spilled on the counter, he reached for his book. “Your going to have to pay. Now let's see how much. There isn’t anything on God’s green earth that isn’t here in this book.” The book was large, but I couldn’t imagine a book that contained everything. This man clearly had not seen some of the things I had seen up to my tender age of 27 at the time. If he had, he would have known. I tried to save him some time by telling him, “It’s tea. It’s not tariffed.” Which he let me know was a waste of breath. I was right, haha. “Can I please have some tape?” for the gaping hole in my once airtight bag of tea. Such is the life of an aspiring importer. And we learn these things. Mostly, we learn not to let them bother us. Life is too short to spend time being upset by trivial things such as losses or losses of potential gains. Learn to not let things upset you or at least learn how to not let them keep you upset.