tea chests

Competition for tea changed entire economies and provenance was key. The secret “stash” was part of the glory as ships and shipping magnets took over what often amounted to privateering and private deals with central and east Asian powers to lock up the tea trade and fill their coffers.

This little map, circa 1950 shows an exotic view of the most sought after destinations for tea. Until the Suez Canal was established, the trip around the Horn made this a journey both fraught with peril and a true race for the liquid jewels of the east. While some overland routes were used, the bulk of tea trade took place on the world’s great oceans.

I also love the tea chests, so redolent of the past and those long days at sea.