Tea cosy

Tea cosy

A tea cosy ("American English" tea cozy) is a cover for a teapot, [Article of the Boston Journal, 25 November 1879] traditionally made of cloth or wool, which is used to insulate the tea, keeping it warm while it brews. Cloth tea cosies often have padded inserts, which can be removed and washed separately.

Tea cosies are often available in matching sets with other items such as tablecloths, oven gloves or aprons. Cloth tea-cosies may be embroidered, perhaps to compliment a fine set of china. Some have been made with hidden pockets to be filled with fragrant herbs or flowers, similar to a potpourri.

Many tea cosies in Britain are hand-knitted, resembling woollen hats, even featuring a bobble on top. According to comedian Billy Connolly, if a man is left alone in a room with a tea cosy, and he does not attempt to wear it on his head, he should not be trusted. [ [http://uktv.co.uk/dave/stepbystep/aid/601685 Billy Connolly Quotes, UK TV] ]

According to the comedy quiz show QI, several people have been killed or injured by tea cosies, and there is a one in twenty billion chance of death by a tea cosy.


Although the history of the tea cosy may begin when tea was introduced to Britain in the 1660's, the first documented use of a tea cosy in Britain was in 1867. [ A History of Hand Knitting, Richard Rutt (1987), London : Batsford. ] It is probably the Duchess of Bedford who, by establishing the activity of afternoon tea in 1840, would have brought the popularity of the tea cosy. [ [http://www.articleblast.com/School_and_Education/General/The_History_of_the_Tea_Cosy/ Suie Roberts, The History of the Tea Cosy, 31 March 2008] ] Afternoon tea was the time for networking and keeping up to date with aristocracy gossip and topical news. With all the chatter at teatime the teapot would get cold, which would have at times cut short some tea parties. And so, the tea cosy came about. Tea cosies then flourished during the late 1800's, where they appeared in many households ac cross Britain, motivated by the obsession of decorating and covering objects characteristic of the Victorian era.

Tea cosies started to be used in North America in the same period. Newspapers of the time reveal that tea cosies enjoyed "a sudden and unexpected rise in public favor" among women who hosted tea parties. [ Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 October 1892 ] Newspapers of the time included advice columns on how to make one: "Some very handsome ones are made of remnants of heavy brocade, but linen is generally used, embroidered or not, according to taste, as these covers are washable. Make the covering large enough for your teapot and provide a ring at the top to lift it off with." [Article of the Boston Journal, 25 November 1879]

Art and Literature

Tea cosy needlework art is captured by a collection of the Norfolk Museums and Archeology Service on contemporary British artists and artisans. [ Chloë Archer with Louise Pratt, Anna Champeney (1995) Teapotmania: The story of the British craft teapot and teacosy; Norfolk Museums Service ]

Tea cosies in fiction include the eponymous item in Edward Gorey's "". [Edward Gorey (1998)The Haunted Tea-Cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas. Harcourt ]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • tea cosy — tea cosies also tea cosy N COUNT A tea cosy is a soft knitted or fabric cover which you put over a teapot in order to keep the tea hot. [BRIT] (in AM, use tea cozy) …   English dictionary

  • tea cosy — tea .cosy n BrE a thick cover that you put over a ↑teapot to keep the tea hot …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • tea cosy — ► NOUN ▪ a thick or padded cover placed over a teapot to keep the tea hot …   English terms dictionary

  • tea cosy — noun a padded cloth covering to keep a teapot warm • Syn: ↑cosy, ↑cozy, ↑tea cozy • Hypernyms: ↑cloth covering * * * tea cosy noun A thick cover for a teapot to keep the tea hot • • • Main Entry: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • tea cosy — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms tea cosy : singular tea cosy plural tea cosies a cover that is put over a teapot to keep the tea hot …   English dictionary

  • tea cosy — noun An insulating cloth covering, shaped to fit over a teapot to maintain warmth. She had just finished knitting a tea cosy decorated with a floral pattern. See Also: egg cosy, teapot, teabag, tea leaf, teaspoon …   Wiktionary

  • tea-cosy — /ˈti koʊzi/ (say tee kohzee) noun a covering for a teapot to keep the tea hot: *with a tea cosy of crocheted orange, felted with handling, that said everything about the landlord. –shirley hazzard, 1980 …  

  • tea-cosy — see tea cosy …   English dictionary

  • tea cosy — noun a thick or padded cover placed over a teapot to keep the tea hot …   English new terms dictionary

  • tea cosy — noun (C) a thick cover that you put over a teapot to keep the tea hot …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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