“Tea cozy” — the very name conjures images of knitting, quilting, and stitching, activities traditionally associated with the female of the human species (mainly because men get to do all the fun stuff like jackhammering!). It conveys to teatime the image of frilliness that some males find a bit off-putting. Then, along comes the HOB (and yes, the name is spelled in all caps). But it’s not just the name that is different. This is an item with “attitude” and that has a definite influence on tea time.
The name HOB is unusual to us modern folk, but one well known to our forbearers who cooked in their fireplaces. A “hob,” according to the dictionary, is “a shelf in the back of a fireplace on which to place things to keep warm.” In the UK, “hob” is another name for a stove top. Small wonder that Annelise Pitt of Thistledown Cozies chose this name for the more manly version of a tea time essential.
The company claims that their HOB is the most efficient design on the market for keeping your teapot warm for awhile. This is based on the materials used to make the HOB (two layers of high tech mylar batting and layers of polyester preventing heat conduction away from the teapot, and a bottom, also with two layers of mylar batting, acting as a built-in trivet) plus the fact that the design was intended to be used on the hot teapot while it steeped.
Assuming you are steeping a tea that uses boiling water (and that you place your teapot in the HOB while steeping, which Annelise recommends), your teapot should lose only a few degrees in the first five minutes, with only about another 18 degrees being lost after a full 30 minutes. Imagine a nice reasonably hot cuppa in your teapot after a half hour. Golly! Gives you more chat time.
Annelise comes up with new designs all the time, including a line of HOBs in fabric colors and patterns targeted to women (which traditionally means pink). Personally, I’m partial to the Steel Blue and Brown HOB (pink never was one of my favorite colors). You could let your animal instincts out and go for the Cheetah HOB, the Crane Flock HOB, or the Wild Zebra HOB. Want your tea to hit the spot? Go for the Polkadot HOB in teal or pink. There are more sedate options that will give your teapot that studly look, such as the Mushroom Twill HOB and the Taupe Twill HOB.
The best feature in my mind is the strap that holds the HOB on the pot, making carrying your teapot a cinch. The strap has a fastener that stays shut but is fairly easy to unfasten when the tea is gone and it’s time to clean the teapot. Speaking of cleaning, HOBs can be machine washed and dried in the delicate cycle. Wow!
Annelise, a Canadian who, by her own admission, has “drunk enough tea to sink a battleship,” has been in textiles for years and made enough cozies to keep at a suitable temperature a battleship or two full of tea. Her company has been around since 1995 and is based in Windham, New Hampshire, where her products are made. The HOB is certainly a standout in that product line-up.
Old habits are hard to break, meaning that most people still call the HOB a “cozy.” Annelise doesn’t mind. She knows that, whatever the name, these handy HOBs sure do keep your tea cozy!
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