I often think about my grandparents and their little tea rituals and how they have lead me to where I am today. When my Nana and Great Aunt made a pot of tea it was always the same method which is ingrained in my memory bank. Boil fresh cold water in the kettle, heat the teapot for at least a minute, swirl and throw out that water, add 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea for each person and 1 for the pot, place the lid on and then the tea cosy, turn the teapot gently 3 times clockwise and let steep. Perfection in a pot ♥ I still have one of my grandmothers tea cosy’s, and while it is looking a little tired I can’t quite bring myself to trade it in for a new one…got me thinking though about where and when the idea to effectively pop a woolly jumper on the tea pot came in to play. And do they actually keep the tea warm?
It seems that back in the 1860s the first documented tea cosy was used by the Duchess of Bedford. The Duchess created afternoon tea in the 1840s and was well known for hosting such events. During these times of gathering and gossiping, the teapot would inevitably get cold, which would have caused embarrassment and the tea would have had to have been re-brewed. Hence the Tea Cosy was invented. During the late 19th century tea cosies became very popular, where they appeared in many fashionable households. British World War II soldiers who spent time in military hospitals in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) were taught how to knit tea cosies to avoid boredom. They knitted the brightly coloured cosies to sell and to remind them of home.
So does a tea cosy do what they are supposed to do? Keep the tea warm? Funnily enough there has been a fair bit of research into this. Firstly, it is really important to heat your teapot with boiling water before you make your pot of tea. A hot teapot will keep the tea hotter for a longer period of time. If the pot is cold and you put hot water into the pot, the vessel absorbs the heat lowering the water temperature and you may not achieve the optimal brewing results and certainly won’t maintain the heat of the tea. As well as the initial warming of the pot other factors need to be considered, such as what the tea cosy is made of. Traditionally it is a knitted or crocheted woollen creation but a padded cotton cosy would maintain the heat more efficiently due to its higher thermal resistance. We also need to take the size of the pot vs the fit of the cosy, what the pot is made of and most importantly what is the outside temperature? See not just a matter of popping a tea cosy on is it?
These days there are a myriad of tea cosy designs, from plain to quite extraordinary, lined, pocketed, knitted, crocheted, matching other kitchen linens…the list goes on. I fancy a pocketed one, these are so you can pop a bag of fragrant herbs such as lavender or rosemary into the pocket and as the cosy heats up the fragrance is released. Another alternative if you aren’t quite at the tea cosy stage of life, is an individual tea mug warmer – now that’s a little bit cute ♥ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNGb7aUNXwE