A Tea Towel: Some History

January 16, 2013 Posted by admin

A tea towel is a necessity in every kitchen – it is about the size of a hand towel and usually used for drying dishes, counters and wiping hands. Cotton and linen tea towels are quite different today from those in the beginning.

Tea towels as household linen have their origins in Victorian England. Linen tea towels played a role in traditional tea time ritual in English homes. But in contemporary world their use has diminished with the decline of the tea time ritual itself. Nowadays tea towels can be decorative wall hangings as well as just mundane utility cloths.

The name “tea towel” comes from the early nineteenth century England. Linen tea towels were used by the ladies of Victorian England themselves when caring for their teaware during tea time to avoid anything being broken by a careless servant.

Linen tea towels were highly absorbent, lint-free and soft and therefore appealed to ladies that required the right towel to dry their delicate china and serving pieces without scratching or leaving lint behind. As tea towels were usually made of quality linen fabric, they also provided a workable background to be decorated with embroidery. The ladies of that period often embroidered their own personal tea towels themselves.

Original tea towels in nineteenth century were made almost exclusively of linen – a natural fiber made from the flax, but progress in textiles industry changed the fabrics used to make tea towels to less expensive. So nowadays cotton and other cheaper fabrics are used to produce modern dish towels. But those who know linen features, still appreciates only pure linen tea towels, as only they remain lint-free, are very durable and have the unique softness that even increases with each wash.

The functions of tea towels also changed from being a delicate table linen piece to becoming a mundane dish towel used to wipe counters and dry kitchen ware. Hand-embroidery nowadays is applied only for tea towels meant to decorate the interior of the kitchen. Regular tea towels in modern days come in huge array of factory-made prints, patterns and colors.

As a mundane object as it may seem, a quality linen tea towel of beautiful colors and patterns is still a piece of textile that can adorn our kitchens and help create style.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>