Tea Cozy History

If you’re a tea drinker then you’re probably familiar with the accoutrements that are available for tea-time, in particular the tea cozy.  Tea cozies have been in use for hundreds of years as a way to keep the tea in your teapot warm.  They can be made from cotton, linen, or wool and usually contain insulated padding to help insulate the teapot.  There are hundreds of patterns available on-line as well as different sizes.

In the early 1980’s, we were fortunate enough to have found probably the first maker of tea cozies here in the USA. This dynamic lady makes all her cozies by hand with the aid of many other seamstresses in the community.  We carry 3 styles of cozies from her: a standard size that fits most 6-8 cup sized teapots, a mini for the 2 to 3 cup sized teapots and a 6-8 cup sized hug-a-pot, which is a cozy that wraps around the teapot and leaves the spout and handle free.  This unique hug-a-pot styled cozy was the first of its kind and now many other manufacturers are copying her design. The concept of a tea cozy is simple: to keep your tea warm, just brew your tea and place the cozy over the teapot. The Hug-a-Pot would be tied onto the teapot after the tea has steeped and then does not need to be removed for the duration of your teatime.  We carry a variety of patterns from her, enough to suit anyone’s décor.

Most tea companies use a famous quote uttered by comedian Billy Connolly which is “Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, does not try it on.”.  We’ve used this quote ourselves and it never ceases to make me smile. When we show customers tea cozies in the store, they inherently mimic trying to wear it.  In fact there are references in a few literacy pieces about the habit of tea cozy wearing.  This theme appears in James Joyce’s 1914 book The Dubliners in the short story “An Encounter” and as recently as the Harry Potter books when Dobby, the house elf, sports one.

While fairly commonplace in today’s society, cozies were originally used by the aristocracy of England.  Although sources vary about the original date that the tea cozy was invented, it certainly became popular in the mid 1800’s in England for use during the fashionable pastime of Afternoon Tea.  The Duchess of Bedford began the tradition of Afternoon Tea as a time for the ladies to enjoy a bit of gossip as well as to have a little snack in between meals.  While the ladies were chatting away the tea would rapidly cool in their pots.  Hence, the tea cozy became a necessity for ensuring that the tea would remain hot.

By the late 1800’s the popularity of the tea cozy is evidenced by its use in many households across England.  The English who immigrated to North America brought their comforts of home with them, so the use of the tea cozy spread throughout America as well during this period.

Today tea cozies are available in classic, sophisticated and whimsical patterns.  They are fun and functional and make the perfect gift for tea lovers.  Don’t have one?  Check out our fabulous selection!

Assorted Tea Cozies

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