Tea Time: 2001


I bought this tea towel in a tea room in Finchingfield, Essex – the Causeway Tea Cottage.  Finchingfield is a picturesque, quintessentially English village with a Village Green and a Duck Pond.  The Causeway Tea Cottage sat on the top of a slope overlooking the Duck Pond and Village Green.  It was a very traditional tea room with oak furniture, willow pattern china, embrodiered table cloths and a wonderful display of cakes on an oak sideboard.  It was a delightful place with a great view and on a sunny day you could sit in the cottage garden.

I saw this tea towel on the wall and was very attracted to it because of the theme of 12 blue tea pots of different designs, each backed by a green tea caddy of different shapes and under each one the name of different teas.  It appealed to my love of tea; the traditional blue colour that is associated with Willow Pattern or Blue Italian Spode, the different shapes and styles of tea pots. There are even three with cane handles, not practical for regular use because of the dificulty washing them up but attractive all the same.

It is pure linen and has retained it’s colour and crispness even though it is getting old but I notice that it has acquired a significant tea stain in the centre; I have no idea where that came from, but I was obviously very careless at some point.

Doesn’t it annoy you when people make slapdash mistakes and presumably think you won’t pick up on them?  Having initially taken some pleasure from this tea towel, I realised there was a big mistake.  Under each tea pot is a name of a tea which you might find on any tea menu e.g. Lapsang Souchong (a black, smokey tea), Earl Grey (black tea flavoured with bergamot), Rose Congou (black tea flavoured with rose petals), Darjeeling and Assam (black teas but from specific regions of India), Ceylon (a generic name for all teas from Sri Lanka but there are many different regions giving different flavours).  In this list, in the bottom left hand corner of the tea towel is ‘Orange Pekoe”; it is listed as if it is the name of a tea, which , of course, it isn’t. Orange Pekoe is a term in tea grading, not the name of a tea.  Orange Pekoe is one of a number of terms used in tea grading; it is about the quality of the tea.  If the term Orange Pekoe is used it means it is a higher grade of black tea, made from the small leaves at the tips of the plants.  It is a term that is only used in relation to black tea grown in India, Sri Lanka and Java.

Once I’ve spotted a mistake like this it bugs me.  However, when I use this tea towel I am reminded of the lovely Causeway Tea Cottage and the ginger cake I had there and am sad that it has since closed and it also reminds me that, although I like a tea towel that provides me with information, something I can learn from, you can’t believe everything you read on a tea towel. (Oh dear! I do believe I am beginning to sound a bit pompous)

Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum



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