Never mind that it was jars of Lipton's instant and not chests of black China tea that they dumped, and forget that it was Pensacola Bay and not Boston Harbor. Last week a group of 20th century Floridians were trying to persuade the world that, like Samuel Adams and his band of patriots, they are victims of unfair taxation.

The occasion for the "tea party" was Wednesday,the day that Florida's new 5 percent sales tax on services went into effect. And if the party seemed like a publicity stunt, that was perhaps to be expected;among the services to be taxed is advertising.

The tax, which is intended to raise an additional $750 million the first year and $1.2 billion annually in 1989, will be added to the cost of most everyday services. These range from attorney and accountant fees to pet grooming, lie detector tests and tattoo parlors. Essential services involving food and medical care will be exempt, along with a hodge-podge of other businesses ranging from barber shops and coin-operated laundries to movie studios.

Florida's tax may not be stirring up a revolt quite on the scale of the American Revolution, but there are plenty of interest groups in the state and elsewhere that consider it revolting.. This is due to the fact that Florida has begun to tax not only those services performed within its borders, but also some that are not.

For example, an advertiser who buys time on a national television network program would have to pay a 5 percent tax on the cost of the ad, based on the percentage of viewers who saw it in Florida. Or, an accountant in New York who prepared tax returns for a Florida client who signed them in Florida would have to add Florida state tax to his fee.

Forty-five states now have sales taxes that apply in varying degrees to services but no other state currently reaches across its borders. Professional groups and trade organizations fear that if Florida's law survives court challenges, other states will follow suit. Interstate taxation could have significant economic consequences for American business.

The specter of such an eventuality has prompted those out-of-staters affected to react vociferously against Florida. In a stinging editorial last week, The New York Times -- which has a direct business interest in the Florida law, as does The Washington Post Co. -- declared, "Florida has a long tradition of taxing outsiders who go there to soak up its sunshine and a dismal record of skimpy spending for essential services." In fact, the country's fourth most populous state ranks last in social services spending. "The right solution," the Times concluded, "isn't more sales taxes, but more responsible taxes on incomes and property." (Florida's constitution prohibits taxation of income.)

Barred by antitrust laws from organizing boycotts, trade associations for advertisers are nevertheless doing their best to bludgeon state businesses and frighten legislators into repealing the levy. The Association of National Advertisers commissioned a study that claimed the tax could result in a loss of 8,800 jobs in the state. Moreover, a dollar lost to advertising translated into $33 in lost sales for a department store; $109 for an auto dealer, according to another study.

The list of national advertisers who have pledged to pull some of their network commercials and local spots off Florida TV continues to grow. Numbering almost 20 at last count, it includes such giants as Bristol-Myers, Lever Bros., General Foods, Kimberly Clark, Frigidaire, Kraft, Lipton, RJR Nabisco, Philip Morris, Isuzu, Warner Lambert, Hershey, Procter & Gamble, and Wrigley. The Florida Association of Broadcasters estimated the 14 largest firms accounted for $150 million in print and electronic advertising in the state.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, 5.25 percent of the total U.S. television viewing audience is in Florida. That state's share of all radio and TV advertising works out to $1.3 billion annually. A 5 percent tax on that figure would net the state $56.7 million a year in extra revenue.

Two major television networks, CBS and NBC, last week advised their Florida affiliates to black out some nationally broadcast commercials in protest. The blackouts were requested by Kimberly Clark, Johnson & Johnson and Rustoleum, said Bob Foss, who heads the Florida Association of Broadcasters. He added that some stations are starting to air anti-tax commercials.

The advertisers are aiming their fire at two of Florida's most visible revenue producers: football and conventions. Louis Hagopian, chairman of the N.W. Ayer advertising agency, said two weeks ago that he had talked to companies that advertise on the National Football League telecasts about withholding ads in Florida during the regular season and during the Super Bowl, scheduled for Miami in 1989. The result, they hope, would be a statewide blackout of NFL games.

The attitude of Florida state officials, he said, was "let those ad people scream. I hope {a blackout} never occurs. I just can't believe people there would let that happen."

Val Pinchbeck, NLF director of communications, said he had no word about a blackout, but was looking into it.

NBC, which will broadcast the Miami Super Bowl, was one of the first to cancel a convention in protest. Its affiliates were scheduled to meet at Disney World next year.

The Florida Hotel and Motel Association has undertaken a survey of all members to find out how they will be affected. Of 111 hotels responding thus far, 41 have had cancellations of 76,000 room nights, valued at $21 million. Another 54,500 tentative bookings worth $11.9 million have been scratched. Most of the cancellations are for 1988, although some are as far out as 1992. Cancellations of group booking on airlines amount to 1,610 seats.

Thus far the cancellations amount to a drop in the bucket for the $1 billion a year convention business. Yet Thomas Waits, executive vice president of the Florida Hotel and Motel Association, said he expects considerably more cancellations if the law is not repealed.

While the advertising and publishing industries couch their protests in terms of the First Amendment protecting free speech, they do not hesitate to cite the impact on the bottom line. Declaring that "constitutionality does not depend on economic impact," the Florida Bar Association is fighting the service tax as a violation of the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the right of counsel. Nevertheless, it should be noted that a quarter of that group's membership resides outside the state and would also be touched by the tax.