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I think it's for making tea. my ex-wife's family uses an almost identically shaped all metal object that way. they live in new zealand, where there's a lot more tea stuff. every home has an electric kettle but no insulation!

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Tea would make sense, but it's awful big.

Ben thought it was for sprinkling sugar over cakes.

(Yes, he's only 3.5.)

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It’s a spice toaster!

i tracked down the person who gave it to me, 15 years ago.  She said it’s for roasting spices.  But still no results from a google search. 

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You toast in that with a wooden handle?

My sources say it is for long steeping of herbs and spices, on top of a cauldron of simmering liquid; the wooden handle keeps it afloat.

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