Friday, 7 August 2015

Raise Your Cup

Katikati Heritage Museum's collection of artefacts which went into temporary storage last year will be rehoused in new premises under a new name, the Western Bay Museum.  During its hibernation we have been given the opportunity to showcase a selection of items from the collection.

Refreshing Choysa Tea, Flavour, Purity, Fragrance, Strength, 2lb tin
Collection of Western Bay Museum, Ref. #0144
Past visitors to the old premises will remember the huge array of tins which were displayed on walls, shelves and in every nook and cranny.  Among these were a large number of tea tins and caddies.  Some of the older ones, sadly a little worse for wear, are interesting in that the brands are still around.

Choysa, The Perfect Tea, Non-Injurious, Refreshing
Collection of Western Bay Museum, Refs. #0162 & #0204

Choysa Tea celebrated its centennial in 2005, when the company's press release included the original matra, "flavour, purity, fragrance, strength."  The more familiar bright red and yellow oval logo possibly arrived in the 1950s when it was first marketed nationwide, and was well established when it had its 75th anniversary in 1980.

The Bell Tea, Delicious, Wholesome, Refreshing, Refreshing
Amber Tips, Eastern Tea Co., Christchurch
Collection of Western Bay Museum, Ref. #0180
Bell Tea is another brand that has been around for a long time.  Their web site claims that they were established in 1898 by the firm R. Wilson & Co. (who later went into partnership with Norman Harper Bell), and features the design on the tin at left (above), although this example  is clearly considerably newer.  A 1906 newspaper advertisement claimed the superiority of "Amber Tips" tea from the Eastern Tea Company of Christchurch, "not mixed with Fanning's and inferior Teas."  In 1913 it was sold in ½ lb. and 1 lb. packets, and in 5 lb. and 10 lb. tins, an example of which is shown above.

Pyramid Tea, The Height of Perfection
Collection of Western Bay Museum, Ref. #0161
Purity, perfection, quality and non-adulteration were strongly emphasized in all tea advertisements from the 1900s and 1910s, some like Pyramid Tea even going so far as to suggest that imbibing of low grade teas might cause "harmful and injurious effects."

Pyramid Tea, The Height of Perfection
Newspaper advertisement, Sun (Christchurch), 17 May 1918
The British company's tins and advertising contain images of the Great Pyramids at Gizeh, the Sphinx and of course the ancillary figures in Arabic dress, camels, palm trees, etc., commonly used icons when the Empire was at its peak.

Golden Bloom Tea, 2 lbs. net, The National Trading Co. of New Zealand
Collection of Western Bay Museum, Ref. #0172
These two-pound tins of Golden Bloom Tea ("The Flavour Satisfies") are probably from a couple of decades later, judging by the shape and  watercolour artwork on the exterior.  A newspaper advert from 1934 listed 1 lb. of Golden Bloom Tea for 2/9d.

Tea Caddy with Art Nouveau decoration
Collection of Western Bay Museum, Ref. #0174
Although we're not entirely sure, this could possibly be a tea caddy made of pressed metal.  It is decorated in an Art Nouveau style, and therefoe probably dating from the late 19th or early 20th century.


Raise Your Cup to Choysa Tea: The Iconic Brand Turns 100, Unilever Media Release, 24 August 2005, Courtesy of

"Amber Tips" Tea Advertisement, Hastings Standard, 7 August 1906, Courtesy of Papers Past

Amber Tips Tea Advertisement, Timaru Herald, 8 October 1913, Courtesy of Papers Past

Pyramid Tea Advertisement, Sun (Christchurch), 17 May 1918, Courtesy of Papers Past

T.E. Taylor & Co. "Pyramid Teas" Advertisement, Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, 7 June 1918, Courtesy of Papers Past

Golden Bloom Tea Advertisement, Waihi Telegraph, 24 November 1934, Courtesy of Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 38, September 1994

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