|18th century porcelain Chinese tea bowl decorated in enamel colours with bird and flowers|
|1. 18th century Chinese blue and white tea bowl, view of base showing painter's or Emperor's mark.|
|2. Side view same tea bowl showing dragon.|
|3. Inside same tea bowl showing the exquisite painting of the dragon's head.|
Tea bowls were an essential part of the 18th century tea drinking culture in England. They were first introduced into the country as ships ballast from China. Tea became the ultra fashionable drink of the period and soon the English potteries copied the Chinese and started to make and sell tea bowls themselves. The Chinese answered this competition with their own tea bowls decorated in the English/European style. The price of tea was at a premium, and only the rich indulged, it was kept in small locked tea caddies and the head of the household held the key!