A stylish tea cozy adds character to your table while keeping your tea warm between cupsful. Whether made of fabric, yarn, or other materials, they pretty much fall into one of two categories: popover (also called dome) or wrap-around (also called bachelor). In practice, the cozy either covers the teapot completely and you have to remove it before pouring, or it wraps around with handle and spout sticking out so you can leave it on while you pour.
Within these two basic styles there’s a lot of creativi-tea.
In the wrap-around category, I found some folks who have designed cozies in the shape of a praying Buddhist monk. While you have to use a little imagination to see the monk, they are charming. You can even have a matching “person cozy” for meditation if you’d like. The monk-maker also designed a “nest” cozy for a kyusu, the small Japanese side-handled teapot. I’m not sure how efficient it is, and it’s potentially messy if you spill any tea. They are rather clever, though. You can see all three – monk cozy, monk meditation cozy, and kyusu cozy – here. (Don’t know if these folks are still in business; unfortunately, I received no response to my emails. )
On to popover cozies, starting with various types of traveling tea cozies, where you put the teapot into a container that closes up so you can take it with you. In the old Mr. Wong films with Boris Karloff, his servant always brought tea in a covered wicker basket cozy with a handle. The basket had built-in compartments for teapot and cups. These types of cozies can be found on occasion in antique shops or on eBay. Tea pluckers carry their tea into the fields in a fitted basket too, although of a somewhat different design than Mr. Wong’s. These feature a lid fashioned in the shape of the sunhats worn by the pluckers.
A style of traveling, or carriage, cozy that may be more familiar to Western tea drinkers is fashioned of cloth on a metal or wood frame, with a handle and a clip to hold it closed. The teapot is nestled into the deep padding. These may have been used as far back as Victorian times for carrying tea to friends’ homes. Nowadays tea drinkers probably don’t carry them much further than the back yard. I’ve used mine a couple of times and it’s very efficient at keeping tea hot, although somewhat awkward once on the table.
Finally, a beautiful basket cozy that I recently discovered on Etsy (where there are all kinds of creative tea things), designed by Mariska Zilverberg, a crafter in The Netherlands. Unlike the Asian styles, it’s not intended for transport. She sets the teapot into a lined basket and places a dome cozy over it, like adding a bottom to the popover cozy, which serves to protect the table while keeping the tea well heated.
I wonder what Billy Connolly – who famously mused “Never trust a man who, when left alone with a tea cosy, does not try it on” – would think of these cozies?
© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.