‘I’m a tidy sort of bloke. I don’t like chaos. I kept records in the record rack, tea in the tea caddy and pot in the pot box’

-George Harrison 1943-2001

I found this quote from my favorite Beatle very amusing. I also share the sentiment, excluding the part about the pot of course!

The tea caddy was a favorite kitchen item from my chilhood and I have memories of opening our caddy and inhaling the rich smell of loose tea when Mum gave me me instruction to “put the kettle on and make a pot of tea”.

A TEA CADDY is a box, jar, canister, or other receptacle used to store tea.  The word is believed to have derived from ‘catty’, the Chinese pound.  The earliest examples that came to Europe were of Chinese porcelain in the shape of a ginger jar.  They had lids or stoppers and were most frequently blue and white.

Tea Caddy from Ming Dynasty

Later designs used a variety of materials with wood becoming  very popular. Tea was very expensive so the caddies were locked and the keys only available to the lady of the house. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth century the caddies became even more elaborate often mounted in brass and delicately inlaid, with knobs of ivory, ebony or silver.
As the price of tea decreased toward the end of the nineteenth century the use of lockable caddies declined.  Those precious tea leaves which had held pride of place in ornate boxes on mantles and sideboards in refined drawing rooms were relegated to cheaply produced tins and boxes that were stored in the kitchen.  That was the style of caddy you would find in our kitchen!
We have a few tea tins at Local Coffee + Tea as well as a few decorative cardboard tea caddies.  I still use several caddies in my kitchen today, one which is fashioned from a tin which used to contain a favorite British candy called Licquorice Allsorts. It makes an excellent tea caddy.
Do you have a favorite tea storage container?  Your comments are always welcome.
Cheers,
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