THE MANY TALENTS OF THE TEA TOWEL
As with so many remnants of the Victorian era that we file away under “granny’s things”, the tea towel has, quite unfairly, been classified as a nice-to-have rather than an essential. Maybe it’s in the name. Had it been called a chiffon or a torchon in English, it would immediately get upgraded to platinum status. But perhaps it’s the tea towel’s reluctance to be put in a box. In your homeware collection, it falls somewhere between a dish cloth and a napkin. Indeed, it is a workhorse, but a beautiful, pedigreed one that just as easily doubles up as a show pony. But the tea towel doesn’t need help to earn its keep. It’s one of the most underrated kitchen accessories there is and finding new uses for it is like finding things to do for any great multitasker.
Let’s start with its original purpose. Taking tea was – and still is in certain cultures – a ritual of great importance, like book ends in one’s day marked by Darjeeling in the morning and Earl Grey in the afternoon. Of course, no matter how expert or refined, spillage is sure to follow. And so, the tee lappie was born.
Imagine being spoiled to a lavish breakfast in bed with yoghurts, fruits and flaky pastries. So romantic, but only until you wake up the next morning with a crumb from yesterday’s croissant stuck to your cheek. Use a tea towel on your lap to catch any airborne flakes, crumbs and dairy and those mood killers are a thing of the past.
Whether protecting your glassware en route to a picnic (because you can’t drink wine from plastic) or keeping your baked goods warm (especially when giving a gift basket), tea towels really are the only solution. You weren’t going to use bubble wrap or old newspapers, were you?
KEEPING YOUR GREENS CRISP
When you wash your lettuce, spinach, chard, microgreens, or kale, you may have noticed that they keep a lot longer when they’re dry. Any residual droplets speed up the oxidation process, leaving you with slimy, wilted leaves that may or may not have a smell of golf-course-after-the-rains about them. Patting them dry with a tea towel after a good rinse keeps matters fresher for longer.
KEEPING IT CLASSY
While festive paper serviettes in glitter and gold have a place at themed gatherings, a classic set of linen tea towels adds a touch of bespoke elegance to a table. Specially embroidered tea towels also tell a story, and convey a sense of old-world luxury while creating elegant accents of colour and texture.