The Irish Tea table, Circa 1715 came into use towards the end of the 17th Century. (Tea was introduced from Holland early in the 17th Century).
The East India Company in its letters/notes asking a fellow officer in China to send him a ‘pot of the best sort of “chaw”’. At first it was chiefly regarded as medicinal being approved by physicians as good for various ailments and for ‘clearing the sight and expelling infection’.
Pepys in 1660 alluded to the new drink and on returning home in 1667 finds his wife ‘making of tea, a drink which the Potticary tells her is good for the cold and defluxions’.
Thomas Garway appears to have been the first regular tea-dealer. In 1660 he states that “Tea in respect of its scarceness and dearness, it hath only been used as a regalia in high treatment and entertainments”.
The Duchess of Lauderdale’s private closet at Ham House Surrey in 1679 contained a Tea table carved and gilded. It was observed that it was custom to retire with company into a withdrawing room and the Tea table hence followed. Dramatists and Poets railed against this new custom, in 1678 Henry Savile writes that some of his friends have fallen into the base unworthy, Indian practise for Tea after dinner in place of the pipe and bottle.
With thanks to Ralph Edwards.
This Irish Tea table listed in our inventory was part of this history and a fine example.