Like the Dutch, who first introduced tea to France in the 1640s, the French initially regarded tea as an exotic beverage to be enjoyed for its medicinal properties only. Interest in drinking tea, coffee and chocolate as a mark of respectability and refinement was aroused under the reign of King Louis XIV (1638 – 1715) at the royal court at Versailles. In 1638, the Siamese embassy presented exotic gifts, including tea leaves, which would have captured the court’s imagination. Although coffee and chocolate were to become more popular across all levels of French society, tea-drinking was nevertheless appreciated among members of the aristocratic and upper classes, creating a demand for appropriately refined teawares.
The body features engraved accolé armorials, whereby two shields are joined side by side. The arms are those of Jean-Baptiste Le Comte, sieur de Beaumont, and his wife Marie-Anne Marin de la Motte, married in 1704 in Mons. Based in nearby Lille, the silversmith Joseph Godin was likely commissioned by a wealthy patron to make this tea canister as a gift to the married couple.