Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tea Towels

While trying to tidy up my tea cupboard and find more space for all the new teas I’ve added over the holidays, I came across several tea theme towels.  Since I have what now seems to be a “collection” of tea theme kitchen towels, I decided to learn more about tea towels (dish towels as many of us in the US call them).


In the early 19th century Victorian ladies used fine linen towels to dry their precious china, glassware and other tableware.  This linen fabric didn’t scratch or leave lint on the pieces.  These ladies also personalized their towels with fine embroidery and used them at tea time to cover trays of food or as a cozy to insulate the teapot.

These days most of our tea towels are made of cotton or cotton blends and are easy care.  That suits me, since I don’t have the time to hand wash and air dry fragile, hand embellished linens.

One fascinating fact I learned was that the impoverished Vincent Van Gogh actually painted on tea towels out of necessity when he had no canvas available.  One (still life with flowers) sold for over 2 million pounds at auction in 2000 and a couple of others are in private collections.

In the 1900s in America, housewives used rough animal feed sacks for dish towels.  These were also hand embroidered, but whether or not they made it to the tea table I don’t know.

So, I guess I’ll continue to check out the tea towels at places like Marshalls, Ross and TJ Maxx just in case there might be a new tea theme towel to add to my collection.




Sylvia said...

love your tea towels, they are very pretty!

Marilyn said...

nice collection of tea towels. I have the bright green one on the right too. I don't really collect, but have been given many and I always enjoy them.

Antiques And Teacups said...

I love them and have quite a collection too...one of those things you can't have enough of!

Angela McRae said...

Now if I could find a Vincent Van Gogh tea towel on eBay or in an antique mall, THAT would be something to brag about! ;)

Nancy Carr said...

You have inspired me to start looking for tea themed towels. Thank you. Love your blog.

Linda at Friendship Tea said...

You have a nice collection of tea-themed "dish towels". I need to take a look at mine to see if we have some of the same.

seule771 said...

I found your blog, it is lovely. I was a tea reviewer and because I enjoy wonderful cups of teas. I became obsess with tea and it got the better of me. I have been slowly easing off trying to find my way back to normalcy; not that I was ever normal. I am praying for peace for what ails me and made me go wrong.
So I stumble on tea blogs and feel to live a note to say hello. I viewed; not to be nosy.
Happy Teas to you.

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