Who knew, that a simple Tea Towel had such an illustrious history…..I didn’t but now I do and I wanted to share.
Tea towels began their journey in 18th – century England as absorbent towels made from soft, lint-free linen. The lady of the household was the only one to use them to dry fine china and delicate tea sets. This job carried much importance which is why the lady of the house had the pleasure and it was not trusted to a clumsy servant.
The towels were also used during tea.
They would be wrapped around the tea pot to insulate it and prevent inelegant drips. One might also use a tea towel to cover a plate of baked goodies before they were served. Used as a vehicle to show off their embroidery skills they were also designed to match the rest of the table linens.
As the Great Depression in America began to unfold and money was not found easily the once again resourceful lady of the house…a.k.a. wife, would cut up and embroider flour sacks to use as towels. The flour companies caught on to the idea and began to spiffy up the sack with floral or other nice patterns on them.
Women would save the bags to sew and trade with others in their community. Today they are used for wiping off everything and anything, long gone are the days of elegant use and prestigious offerings of the tea towel. Today a tea towel can be found in a car, tool box, under a sink, in a sink, anywhere there is potential for something to be wiped.
Other Nefarious Uses
Then there is also the whipping of the tea towel once it has been sodden with water from using it to dry dishes. Anyone else out there have those wicked red welts on the back of their legs from when their brother or sister thought it would be fun to twirl and whip the towel?
Oh the things this poor piece of history has been through!
Long live the tea towel.