Colonial Williamsburg is a treasure chest which allows us to peek into the lives of our 18th century ancestors. And it houses a fascinating array of colonial tea tables and accompanying “tea things,” on display in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.
Some of the first American – made tea tables were simply wooden trays positioned on stands. Later versions — such as this Massachusetts tea table (below) exhibited at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum — were made with fixed tops whose high molded edges gave the illusion of the earlier tray form. The tapered molding helped contain the expensive ceramic and silver tea wares that were used while serving and drinking tea. The cabriole legs were inspired by Chinese tea tables.
These handsome tea tables set the stage in every fine home for the display of the tea things such as ceramic or silver tea pots, cups and saucers, spoons, hot water urns, strainers and slop bowls. All these accoutrements were important components of the tea ritual carried out in the Colonies.