During the 1700s, the fashion for tea drinking was a widespread ritual among wealthy British citizens, seen as the most fashionable beverage and surpassing the taste for coffee. Although Chinese porcelain vessels were exported to Europe to store and serve tea, an increasing demand for fashionable wares encouraged British silversmiths to produce tea canisters, caddies and chests in which tea leaves could be kept fresh.
The chased, foliate scrolls that decorate each canister are characteristic of the Rococo style which was fashionable in England from 1730 to 1770. They were made by Pierre, or Peter, Gillios, a Huguenot silversmith who registered his first mark in London in 1754 at Wardour Street, Soho. His work specialised in the production of tea caddies and sugar boxes in the Rococo style, known for his delicate and refined work. This tea caddy pair differs slightly in size proposedly to help differentiate between green and black tea when served.