No kitchen is complete without a tea towel. A tea towel is a small piece of cloth which is often used for drying dishes or cutlery. It is also spread over a tea tray to absorb any spills or catch crumbs. Others use it as a blanket over warm scones or a hot tea pot, so it insulates the heat and keeps it at the right temperature over the course of a meal.
A tea towel is usually sold at kitchen supply stores. It is very popular in England and Ireland—where tea is in abundance—but several other countries also sell them and can even deliver them to your door.
A genuine tea towel is made of linen, which won’t scratch fine plates and silverware. The cloth also tends to have a simple weave rather than a looped terry. You can also find tea towels made of cotton. These are very affordable and can be used every day. Fine tea towels, made for entertaining or spreading on trays during special occasions, may be embroidered or hand-painted. A tea-towel is usually the size of a hand towel.
While a tea towel can be used to wipe dishes, it is not a dish rag. A tea towel must be kept clean, and is generally used to dry clean dishes. It is not used for countertops.
Some people collect decorative tea towels, which are designed to be displayed either in a frame or on a wall hook. Some companies sell souvenir tea towels that depict famous landmarks.