by Connor Lofink
It’s late in the afternoon and you have a few friends over to enjoy a hot cup of tea and some juicy gossip. Everyone sits around the small table in your drawing room and you pour each guest a piping hot cup of the aromatic drink. In between sentences, you each savor small sips of your beverages, enjoying every aspect: the flavor, the warmth, the gently wafting steam filled with tempting aromas. Every so often someone reaches out to grab one of the small sandwiches or delicate cakes that sit on the table. The conversation drifts from Mr. Havisham’s new haircut to Mrs. Gentry’s new job to the exciting news about Mrs. Cutter’s eldest who has recently gotten engaged. Everyone is having a good time and the sweet sounds of friendly laughter echo through the house.
This same thing would have happened to Anna Russell when she became the duchess of Bedford in 1839. Dinner wasn’t typically served until 8 o’clock so the duchess started taking a light afternoon meal consisting of a pot of tea, and cakes, sandwiches, or scones with cream and jam. Once she began inviting her friends, afternoon tea quickly became popular. For more on Anna Russell and the history of afternoon tea, see our blog post about her here.
Anna discovered that the joys of friendly conversation can make the time slip away and, before she knew it, her pots of tea were cold. While iced tea is a tasty treat in the hot summer months, it is best enjoyed while sitting on the porch after a long day’s work. Afternoon tea is all about warmth so cold tea will not do.
It’s not clear who invented it, but it wasn’t long after the Duchess of Bedford popularized taking tea in the afternoon that tea cozies started appearing. 1867 brought the first documented use of the tea cozy in Britain. A tea cozy is, quite simply, a cloth cover for a teapot that helps insulate it and keep its contents warm. Often handmade, these serve both a practical purpose and a stylish one. The Victorian penchant for embellishing every item they could meant that many tea cozies were elaborately embroidered and the patterning was as much a selling point as their usefulness. The practice of afternoon tea spread to North America rapidly and it brought the tea cozy with it.
Our wide selection of tea cozies are all made in the USA, usually in a poly-cotton blend, and insulated to help keep your pot hot. The tea cozies are available in three sizes: a Traditional that fits 4-8 cup sized teapots, a Hug-A-Pot style for 6-8 cup teapots and a Mini style for the 2-4 cup sized teapots. We offer many patterns so you’re sure to find one to match your decor. The next time you’re sitting around a plate of cakes and sandwiches with your friends, be confident that your second cup of tea won’t be a cold one and your pot looks as stylish as it possibly can.