A vintage tea caddy (or possibly tobacco container). Tea was introduced to England from China in the mid-17th century. As well as having a pleasant taste, it was believed to be therapeutic, which we now know to be true due to its antioxidant properties. The word ‘caddy’ comes from the Malaysian word ‘kati’ or ‘catti’, meaning a measure of weight around 3/5 of a kilo.
Wooden tea caddies were first introduced in the early 18th century but not introduced into homes until later in the 18th century. Caddies made completely of wood (rather than wood with metal inners) were introduced around this time and, because they were made from one material, could be made in one workshop, rather than two. They came in various sizes and shapes, such as square, polygonal, oval, elliptical and sometimes urn-shaped, and were made from pine, oak or mahogany with different wood veneers. This variety has continued over time.