Service with Flair
Yes, actually, tea tables were all about tea presentation. At a time when tea prices were high and having the means to serve the beverage was considered prestigious, every well-appointed home had a tea table in its foyer, hall, or living area waiting to serve its purpose. These tables were placed out of the way for daily use, and then moved to the middle of the room in preparation for indulgent tea parties, according to Marvin D. Schwartz’s reference American Furniture: Tables, Chairs, Sofas and Beds.
Styles, Storage, and Woods
Tea tables used during the early part of the 18th century tended to be of the rectangular variety, some of which had tray tops to aid their serving purpose. Later, round tea tables featured tilt tops so they could easily be stowed along a wall when not in use. Mahogany was widely used in tea table manufacture, but other woods such as maple were occasionally utilized as well.
The Decline of the Tea Table
When tea prices went down after the American Revolution, celebrating tea service as such a grand affair was no longer in vogue. The tea table’s popularity waned, and they were scarcely produced until Colonial revival furniture became a fad much later in history.