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Tea Chests

From the “Talking Tea with Bruce Richardson” Video Series – Episode 2

Over 300 chests of tea were thrown overboard in Boston Harbor during the 1773 tea rebellion. Bruce Richardson explains the history of the wooden tea chests used to transport tea from China and, later, other tea producing countries such as India and Sri Lanka. One of the two surviving tea chests tossed overboard is on display in the new Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Bruce Richardson also shows two small replica tea chests consumers in London used a century ago to bring home their tea from purveyors such as Fortnum & Mason and Twinings. These miniature chests contained two to five pounds of tea rather than the 75 to 150 pounds of tea contained in full chests.


Speaking: Teamaster Bruce Richardson
Caption text provided by Google/Youtube “Automatic Captions”*

i’m bruce richardson, tea master for the boston tea party ships and museum. by now many of you already know that over 300 chests of tea were thrown overboard in boston harbor in 1773.

but what exactly is a chest of tea? well for centuries tea has been brought from the east to the west contained in wooden boxes lined with tin or lead. the very first advertisement for tea appeared in london newspaper in 1658. “that excellent and by all positions approved china drink called by the chineans, tcha by other nations tee, alias tea, is sold at the sultanefs-head a coffeehouse in swedish rents by the royal exchange, london.”

this causes us to remember that shakespeare who died in 1616 never had an opportunity to taste tea. can you imagine what a great writer he might have become if only he had the chance to set one of his plays in a real tea house?

well by the 19th and 20th centuries, londoners were once again transporting tea in wooden chests not the large wooden chest you kind of ships but in small replicas that were used to transport tea home from tea purveyors like fortnum and mason in london or from the twinings family.

now the twinings shop still stands on the strand in london. you can visit today. you would go in and fill up your recyclable tea chest take it home empty this tea into a tea caddy or into ceramic tea chest your pantry and dispense your tea directly from there to your tea pot

one of the exciting experiences you will have the boston tea party ships and museum is the experience of seeing one of the only two remaining tea chests from the is the experience of seeing one of the only two remaining tea chests from the original boston tea party. can you imagine standing there next one of america’s great iconic treasures?

well until we see you in boston, go forth and make good tea

*Please note that Google/Youtube “Automatic Captions” may not have captured the content of the speaker(s) on this video accurately. Please report any errors you find on this website via the contact us form.

Bruce Richardson Profile Picture

Bruce Richardson

MSN calls Bruce Richardson "A leading tea expert involved in tea's American renaissance for over 30 years." The native Kentuckian is a writer, photographer, tea blender, and frequent guest speaker at tea events across the globe. He can often be found appearing on television and radio talk shows, or as a guest speaker at professional seminars such as World Tea Expo or China Global Tea Fair. He is the author ...

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