12 in x 12 in x 12 in
Printed paper on unidentified wood
Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of Brian Miller
“P.M.S.S.Co. / G / CHOICEST / NEW SEASONS / YOUNG HYSON / No 84" printed on one side of the box.
The printed paper has darkened and shows some wear at the edges.
Introduced to America in the 17th century, tea became a widespread and important social beverage by the end of the 18th and a ubiquitous staple in the 19th. Most tea came from China until Japan was opened to US trade in 1858. The Pacific Mail Steamship Company was established in 1848 to carry mail to and from Panama and the west coast of the United States. It expanded quickly, and in 1867 it began regular service between San Francisco and Japan, China and Hong Kong, becoming one of the premier importers of tea. Company initials identify this box as one of the many types of tea they supplied. It is Young Hyson, a flavorful Chinese green tea. It was the dominant type of tea thrown overboard during the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
The tea box or tea crate, as it was also called, is a cubic foot. The inside is lined with metal foil to protect the tea from drying out. The outside is papered with two different printed views of Chinese tea ceremonies and the PMSS Co, label. The Pacific Mail Steamship Co. was acquired by Dollar Steamship Co. in 1925.
See another tea box, accession no. 2009.44.