On November 13th I wrote about my visit to Jeffrey's Antique Mall where I purchased two vintage tea towels. The purchase prompted a look at my other tea towels, which I've decided to share today.
Some are vintage and hand embroidered...
Some are souvenirs...
[Empress Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia]
[Irish Linen Store, Victoria, British Columbia]
[Harrods, London, England]
Some are collectible...
Some are gifts...
[Laura Ashley, London, England]
And some are purchases from here and there...
[World Market - Cost Plus]
Some references claim tea towels came into use during the 18th Century, while other sources link them to the early 19th Century. Either way, they originated in England and were a special linen drying cloth used by the mistress of the house to dry her precious and expensive china tea equipage. Tea towels were also wrapped around teapots to insulate and keep the pot warm in place of a tea cozy, and either wrapped around, or laid on top of a serving basket or bowl to keep fresh tea scones, tea cakes or muffins warm. They were sometimes used to take care of tea-time spills and clean-up too.
Linen was the fabric of choice because it was lint-free and wouldn't scratch fine china or glassware. The 18th Century servants hand hemmed and embroidered the tea towels as well as ladies of the home. The embroidery was done with such great skill and care that tea towels often became family heirlooms.
Tea towels are mass produced today and can be easily purchased in many stores, so their importance has diminished unless you're a tea lover who likes to collect anything associated with tea.
Do you collect tea towels?