Buying Tea in 1801

Tea in Eighteenth-Century Britain

A few years ago I bought a receipt for the purchase of some tea in 1801. It cost about £10 on eBay. What does it tell us about the tea trade at the end of the eighteenth century? What can we find out about the receipt?

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My receipt records a transaction in London in June 22 1801, when the ‘Rev Mr Tonyn’ bought some tea from the shop of Richard, John & Richard Twining at No. 216, The Corner of Devereux Court near Temple Bar in the Strand.

Twinings (it doesn’t have an apostrophe any more) is an interesting firm, one of the oldest continuously operating companies in the world. It began life in 1706, when Thomas Twining became the proprietor of a coffee-house in Devereux Court in 1706. This place, soon known as ‘Tom’s Coffee-House’ went on to become one of the most celebrated coffee-houses of eighteenth-century London: notable…

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