Learn about Tea Caddy

In the 17th century, tea was first introduced to Britain from the East Indies by the Dutch East India Company who had a monopoly on this trade, as well as some of the spices now in common use. As a result, the leaf tea from which the drink was made was an extremely expensive commodity, and so had to be appropriately stored and safeguarded. The tea caddy was devised for this purpose.

The first tea caddies, sometimes called tea canisters, as they were only single compartment vessels, were often of silver, and bottle shaped with a removable top that could be used to measure tea into the pot.

In the 18th century, taxes were imposed on tea making it even more expensive, and to safeguard the contents a lockable box was devised. The simple forms of these boxes had a removable receptacle to store the tea. The larger examples housed two receptacles side by side. The tea containers were often lined with a silver paper like substance presumably to protect the tea from moisture. more...
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A Victorian papier-mache tea caddy. Rectangular form with domed lid painted and gilded decoration to the papier m√Ęche. 14 cm high, 18 cm wide

Victorian papier mache tea caddy. Inlaid mother of pearl decoration to lid. Height 10 cm

Papier mache tea caddy. Elongated octagonal body on 4 scroll feet. Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay and foliate design. Both original lids present, one with carved shell handle, early 19th century. 15 x 26 x 19 cm

Early papier mache tea caddy. Gold Chinoiserie decoration, two internal pewter canisters, missing lids and A/F. Missing one side handle. Length 28 cm height 15 cm

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