Ahoy, tea mateys, get those sea chests loaded up for adventure. Oh, wait, that’s tea chests. Gee, the difference a letter makes. Never mind, though, you can load up that tea chest and have a great TEA adventure. No Dramamine needed.
The tea chests of today are quite different from those of yesteryear. This is mainly due to the dominance in the tea market in the U.S. and much of Europe of bagged teas. Early tea chests were sized to hold about a pound of loose leaf tea, keeping it dry and making sure that air and light stayed out. Tea was a pretty expensive commodity, being shipped over great distances, and not even the smallest amount went to waste. In the 1800s, even though the price of tea had gone down enough for the middle classes to afford it, tea was carefully guarded. The tea chest (also called a caddy) was kept locked, and only the woman of the household held the key.
The tea chest evolved over the years so that now they are more flat and seldom have locks. Many of the tea chests available today are divided into sections to hold teabags in an orderly fashion. They can range from very simple ones to high-fallutin’ models with felt linings and shiny brass hinges and closures. You can even add an engraved brass plate, especially nice when giving the tea chest as a gift. (If you really want to impress the giftee, fill up the chest with a selection of individually wrapped higher quality bags. Mighty Leaf comes to mind here. Of course, you could also buy a pre-filled tea chest filled with Stash, Taylors of Harrogate, or other teas, but then you’re stuck with what they choose to put in it.)
Restaurants sometimes use tea chests to try to make their rather wimpy and often laughable selection of bagged teas and some herbals being called teas appear more upscale to their customers. They don’t fool this “Tea Princess”, though. A tea chest does not good tea make. It is as capable of holding “yuckers” and well as “yummers”.
Maybe it’s not the tea. Maybe it’s the teabags.
Loose leaf tea lovers, fear not. There are chests designed to hold tins of loose teas. A good example is the Davidson’s Loose Leaf Tea Chest, a sleek, low tea chest made of cherry wood and perfectly fitted with 6 round tins full of teas. There are four versions: the Loose Leaf Decaf Tea Chest, the Loose Leaf Green Tea Chest, the Loose Leaf Special Blend Tea Chest, and the Loose Leaf Traditional Tea Chest. The drawback, of course, is that you may not like the tea types they include. If you know another tea lover, you both can get a different selection and then swap flavors. For example, trade the Earl Grey from the Traditional chest for the Green with Lemon Ginseng from the Green Tea chest. When the teas are gone, you can clean the tins thoroughly, buy more teas in pouches, and refill the tins. A bit of tea thriftiness.
Whether bags or loose, green or black, herbal or regular tea, your tea chest will keep you afloat — in tea, that is!
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