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Storage vase for Green Tea, Italy, 1750-1770

The inscription Thé Verde painted on to the side of this earthenware jar means “Green Tea”. Originating in China, green tea has long been considered a health drink. It was used to treat a number of ailments by cleansing the body and was also drunk to improve general well-being. Tea was a safer alternative to water, which could taste unpleasant and was often contaminated, carrying water-borne diseases such as cholera.

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Glossary: storage jar

A jar used to store objects or substances.

Glossary: cholera

A severe infection of the small intestine commonly contracted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to dehydration, which can be fatal.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: earthenware

Pottery made of clay which is fired at a relatively low temperature. Earthenware is often semi-porous, meaning some liquid or air can pass through it. This can be altered by treating the pottery with a glaze.