Tectona Grandis is probably the single greatest woodworking material on earth. Unfortunately, although teak used to be one of the cheapest and most readily available exotic woods, it is now extremely expensive and increasingly scarce in larger dimensions. Still, what remains available today is strong (particularly for its weight), extremely durable against moisture and insects, easy to work with and attractive to look at.
An enormous tree by any standards, teak grows wide, straight and tall, reaching up to 130 feet with trunks up to 5 feet in diameter. It is the way the tree grows in addition to its working properties that make it so ideal to be turned into lumber.
Of course, all these tall, straight trees have been prime targets and are now a rare commodity in their native range in southeast Asia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Fortunately, teak takes well to plantation farming and long ago, trees started to be planted for cultivation. Plantation teak is often different in appearance than the old growth variety but tests have shown that it is identical in strength, rot resistance and other working properties.
Aside from plantation teak, there are other ways to come by teak that are environmentally friendly. Since the wood is so durable, material that was used for boatbuilding or furniture decades ago, can still be salvaged and tranformed into new items. Personally, I found a guy who specializes in sailboat work, and bought a bunch of scraps from him that I have turned into small items like the tea box above and used as accents on other pieces.