In 1908 tea and coffee importer Thomas Sullivan began the commercial marketing of his silk tea bag. The idea in his mind was that the leaves would be emptied out of the bag into the pot. However, many customers found it more convenient to brew the tea in the porous bag. By accident the tea bag was born.
The uptake of tea bags was quite slow with a commercial tea bag packing machine coming along in Germany in 1929. Until this point the perceived method of making tea in the western world was by steeping leaves in a tea pot. The strength of the tea was determined not only by the leaves used but also the amount of time the leaves were allowed to infuse. Thus arose the need to keep the tea warm in the pot and the tea cosy.
The origins of the tea cosy in the UK may date back to the mid 1660’s when the importation of tea, albeit for the likes of royalty and the aristocracy, began. The first documented British tea cosy was in 1867 through the activity of taking afternoon tea pioneered by the Duchess of Bedford. This was more of a social function that would go on as guests chatted, the tea pot cooled and the tea cosy became a necessity.
It was during the Victorian era that the tea cosy flourished with ornate finely embroidered cosies in addition to the more common knitted variety. Of course the tea cosy was like a magnet to any small (and some not so small) boys who would wear the cosy like a bobble hat! Scottish comedian Billy Connolly said “Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy, does not try it on.”
The increasing pace of life and need for convenience saw the decline of the tea cosy in the mid 20th century such that now it’s seen more as a period article rather than modern addition to the table. For that reason it is a good way to add authenticity to a room setting in miniature.
We have a selection of patterns available if you wish to either knit or crochet a miniature tea cosy (and related items) in 1:12th scale for your dolls house:
Pattern for 1:12th scale household items c. 1960s
Pattern for 1:12th scale Household items
Pattern for 1:12th scale Rose tea and egg cosies
Pattern for a 1:12th scale breakfast set
A free 1:12th scale knitting pattern is also available here to make the tea cosy shown below: