From the middle of the 17th century, tea drinking had become fashionable in the West, and the various countries’ Asiatic companies competed for the profitable tea trade with China. Their large merchant ships also carried other Far Eastern products, such as porcelain, lacquerware, and furniture. Soon Europe became fascinated with “chinoiserie” – a wide range of items with Chinese or pseudo-Chinese motifs. Due to the high price of imported wares and delivery problems, European imitations of these exotic pieces soon followed. European merchants in China also commissioned porcelain and furniture whose forms and motifs were suited to the European taste.