One of the earliest written references for tea was discovered last week in the West Yorkshire Archives.
Rachel Conroy, curator of Temple Newsam House, was at the Leeds archive office researching for an exhibition on beer when she made the discovery. On a bill dating back to 1644 there is reference to ‘bottles of china drink’, the old name for tea. Each bottle was priced at four shillings and whilst a luxury purchase, the tea would have been purchased for its perceived medicinal properties rather than a drink like we consumer today.
It’s fitting that this fascinating find was made by Rachel as Temple Newsam House has an important collection of British ceramics including many used for making and serving tea. For West Yorkshire Archive Service this discovery highlights the many gems that are still to be discovered across their offices in Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.
Anyone can use the archive service, whether for research or individual curiosity. If you are a beginner and would like guidance on how to access the archives, then West Yorkshire Archive Service run archive surgeries across their five district offices. To find out more visit wyjs.org.uk/archive-service.