How frustrating to steep up a pot of tea for family and friends only to have it grow cold as you share good food and conversation. Tea cozies to the rescue!
“Cozy” (also spelled “cosy”) is defined in The American Heritage® Dictionary as “snug, comfortable, and warm.” Sounds very appropriate for these keepers of the teapot. The vary name “tea cozy” conjures up images such as crackling fires, a warm comforter or throw, and a comfy chair. Part of this setting, of course, is a steaming pot of freshly steeped tea and a plate of tea sandwiches, cupcakes, or something equally yummy. It’s all part of the “tea life.”
Thus the importance of the problem of how to keep the tea in your pot warm. What’s cozy about a room-temperature pot of tea? There are always tea warmers, usually comprised of little stands that fit a “tea candle” inside them with your teapot sitting above the candle’s flame. Some tea aficionados think these “overcook” the tea, especially as the amount in the pot gets low.
A better option for many tea lovers is to keep the pot covered with something. Some say that tea towels were used first. Considering that Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, who is attributed with starting the whole afternoon tea time around 1840, always set an upscale table, it seems unlikely that tea towels were her teapot “blankets” of choice. That doesn’t mean that the less up-to-date households didn’t resort to them. However, at this time, a hostess’ reputation would rest on how well her tea table looked, further lessening the chance that the tea towel story is accurate.
These days, no self-respecting tea hostess or host would let the teapot go “naked” and the tea grow cold. They also wouldn’t miss a chance to ratchet up the “cute” factor of their teatime. So, tea cozies are gaining in popularity.
Tea cozies are mainly made of quilted material, but some are knitted or crocheted, some are made of felt and others of high-end fabrics like cashmere and silk. There are two basic styles:
- the kind that sit over your teapot and have to be lifted off so you can pour the tea
- the kind that the teapot sits in and that you can pour without removing it (often called a “muff,” “snuggie,” or “wrap-around”).
The variety of designs is virtually endless, ranging from folksy to hoity-toity. Embroidered and beaded ones (popular during the late Victorian era) are also becoming more available again. Floral prints are probably the most popular, based on what I’ve seen. Other popular fabrics are cats, dogs, stripes, polka dots, the ubiquitous paisley, fruits, nature, teawares, and holiday themes.
Some of the most unique designs I’ve seen include a crown-shaped cozy and a bamboo basket cozy with a special teapot sized to fit inside it perfectly. There is also one shaped like a cupcake that looked more like a thistle with its downy threads bursting out the top. “Critter” designs I’ve seen include one in the shape of a ginger cat, several in the shape of frogs (personally, not very appetizing), a couple of ladybug ones, a bumblebee, a poodle available in both white and baby blue, and cashmere elephants. Don’t forget the whimsical, such as a knit cozy with an elf sitting on the knitted flower-strewn top, another in the shape of a beehive complete with bees on the sides, or the cottage-shaped cozies that bring a smile as they keep your tea warm. Lots of antique tea cozies are out there, too, such as one design of a doll with a celluloid head and a full skirt over a wire frame. It was fairly large and really dominated the tea table.
All this style, all this cuteness, all this usefulness at prices ranging from about $15 up to over $100, depending on the materials used, the intricacy of the design (e.g., lots of lace, embroidery, and bead work), and the size (from 2-cup up to 8-cup). They are a great and affordable way to keep your tea (and your teatime) cozy.
Of course, I guess you can always “zap!” your tea in the microwave to re-warm it and just set aside that cute tea cozy as a decoration. Whatever you choose to do, start with a tasty pot of tea and some most tempting teatime treats. Enjoy!
Make sure to stop by A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!