ORDER BY THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2019 FOR MOTHER’S DAY DELIVERY Why does winter feel like the longest season? The gently drifting snow flakes were gorgeous and it was wonderful to get away for a while, but it’s hard to beat seeing the blossom buds on the trees and hearing the early morning twitter of the spring migration.
And Mother’s Day is near, another reason to love spring and our moms. Be sure make your order for Mother’s Day, which is Sunday May 12, by Thursday May 2, 2019
Welcome spring! We are so glad you’re here.
And welcome to Flock of Tea Cosy’s newly secure website. We’ve (finally) implemented SSL — you can tell because there’s now https and a green padlock icon before all our URLs. This means your internet connection and communication with our website is encrypted and secure. In addition, and as it’s always been, if you shop on the site all money transactions are done offsite at PayPal’s own secure site, Flock of Tea Cosy never has your credit card details. Rest easy.
Happy New Year to you and yours! It was wonderfully sunny and relatively mild here today which was just perfect for a walk in our neighborhood park.
WINTER CLOSURE, RE-OPEN APRIL
As usual, the Flock of Tea Cosy shop will be taking a break for travel and a breather this winter and re-open in the mid-spring — early April-ish and definitely in time for Mother’s Day.
TAKING ORDERS UNTIL JANUARY 25
The shop will be open and taking orders until Friday, January 25, and although the contact form will be active and responded to during the shop closure in a reasonable time, orders after that date will not be fulfilled until the re-opening in April.
If you’d like to be informed of the exact opening date please drop a line using the form at the bottom of the contact page.
BTW, have you checked out the end-of-line/sample sale page yet?
New french press coffee cozy design
You may have seen this coming but, for Fall 2018, here comes the french press coffee cozy version of our “Baseball” design. Steeper shoulder curves, same buzzy zig-zag stitching on the dart, simple clean curved profile which looks completely at home on morning breakfast counters and evening dinner tables.
Designed with modern simplicity to fit Bodum’s “Chambord” french press coffee makers in the 8cup and 12cup sizes.
Seen here in fresh Moss Green which brings a breath of spring to any table. Made from thick (3mm) European 100% wool felt to their highest standards. This is some of the best, dense, wool felt made in the world. And beautiful to boot.
And it’s a natural fabric — baa-baa sheep wool — which is a renewable resource and thus a wonderfully “green” choice for your tableware. An eco-friendly choice as well as a beautiful choice.
A perfect fit for the home of any modern coffee lover.
8cup Baseball Coffee Cosy
12cup Baseball Coffee Cosy
New tea cosy colour! Still lots of summer humidity around here but the Fall colours will soon be upon us. In the meantime we’re thrilled to welcome the perennially fresh Moss Green to Flock of Tea Cosy’s “Baseball” design line of modern tea cosies.
Coming soon to the shop….
Later: Oh look, here they are now.
New tea cozy color Mulberry Red
We’re giving this lovely Mulberry red a trial run. A deep, rich red and a thick and lovely hand-feel.
Available in the “Neu” style coffee cosy designed to fit the Bodum Chambord french press coffee maker (8-cup or 12-cup) , and in a small or standard-size teapot cozy.
Tea Cosy Coffee Cosy
Puzzle Piece trivets
Tea cozy hack and trivet test.
Customers are such an inventive lot. And helpful.
Fits a tall teapot too
Recently a customer ordered one of the flock’s cosies designed for a french press coffee maker, the 8-cup “Neu” design in Moss Green. Shortly after receiving it she wrote to tell me it fit her tall, narrow-proportioned teapot perfectly. A great customer cosy hack!
- “I love my green cozy. I have a tall teapot (I know it’s meant for a cafetierre) that I use every day and it fits perfectly!”
Trivets survive stove-hot espresso pot
I also recently received a query about whether the trivets could handle a hot-from-the-stove espresso pot. The colourful wool felt is wonderfully resilient, and perfect for protecting tabletops from hot teapots but I wasn’t confident enough to absolutely guarantee they’d hold up to stove-hot. It turns out they hold up just fine. On the flock’s behalf the customer put the trivet through its paces with her espresso pot and it came through with flying colours. No burn marks and no table-top harmed in the testing.
- “Ta dah! And worked out perfectly. No burn marks.”
Small tea cosy works as egg cosy
I mentioned this awhile ago but it’s worth mentioning again. A clever customer reported that the small tea cosies work wonderfully at keeping a bowl of soft boiled eggs hot on a Sunday morning. Another great tea cozy hack.
- “My wife and I are excited about the two new members of our tea family. They double as egg cozies as we soft boil several eggs and put them in a bowl.”
I’m very proud of the craftsmanship and quality of the products I make to sell under the Flock of Tea Cosy banner, and it makes my day when a sale or a query comes over the transom, especially from some place faraway.
CLEAN, MODERN DESIGN
Some place like Finland, or Australia, or Italy, or the far west coast of the USA or even South Africa. It’s been the magic of the internet that enables the flock’s wares to be found by the relatively small, but, might I cheekily say, discerning, global group that appreciates these simple, cleanly designed, enduringly modern tea- and coffee-cosies.
WOOL FELT IS AN EXCELLENT INSULATOR
While most clients have mentioned it is the clean, minimalist design that brought them here, many have reported back their appreciation for this tableware being really good at its job. This is firstly due to the choice of fabric, dense wool felt, which is an excellent insulator. And secondly, because the Flock of Tea Cosy’s tea, coffee and mug cosy designs prevent heat from escaping which ensures the tea or coffee or hot chocolate stays hot.
A NATURAL FABRIC
Some clients have mentioned they were drawn to the natural fabric — wool felt is a natural fibre fabric (baa-baa sheep) which means it will a) decompose when its life is over, and b) is a renewable resource (ie: the sheep survive and are sheared every spring). It will leave a minimal footprint and is therefore eco-friendly.
On that note, the Puzzle Pieces (trivets, coasters, mousepads, etc made from the off-cuts) use green-thinking to reduce the waste from the cosy production. More eco-friendly products using wool felt’s natural insulating quality.
WELL MADE FROM QUALITY MATERIAL
Feedback also indicates notice of (thank you!) and appreciation for the excellent quality of the material used. The coloured 100% merino wool felt that Flock of Tea cosy uses is the best in the world. It’s made in western Europe to exacting and eco-concious standards. It is sturdy and consistent in its production, which can’t be said for some other sources, and the colours are rich and colour-fast. The Industrial wool felt, made here in North America, is a technical grade also made to top industry standards.
The high quality of the materials is paired with high standards of workmanship which ensure that each piece at Flock of Tea Cosy is well-made and made to last. Everything is individually handmade, all end seams are double-sewn, and the hang-tabs are securely hand-sewn on. For the puzzle-piece trivets, coasters and table-toppers all seams are button-hole stitched at their end.
With thanks to Flock of Tea Cosy’s clients, some first hand reports can be found here:
Making Bi Lo Chun tea
If you are familiar with Bi Lo Chun (green snail spring) tea you know it has a wonderful, big, sweet aroma and a distinctive snail-like curl to its dried leaf shape which gives it its name.
View from atop Dong Ting mountain looking out over the tea bushes.
A few years ago I took an unforgettable trip to China for a guided tour of their tea industry. It was led by knowledgeable and gracious Tao of Tao Tea Leaf and my fellow travelers included two of my fellow tea sommeliers with whom I’d studied. We were only five altogether plus a driver so we were pretty light on the ground allowing intimate, low-profile visits wherever we went. The small group also meant we could be nimble in our schedule and respond to invitations and spur-of-the-moment opportunities.
This was the case the April evening we arrived at Dong Ting Shan on the east side of Lake Tai in the province of Jiangsu where Bi Lo Chun originates. This was our driver, Mister Goo’s, home town and during dinner he took a phone call which alerted him that his father was about to process the last of the Bi Lo Chun from the family plot. Mister Goo promptly invited us to come and watch.
We were told that it is usual for the local farmers to plant their plot of land with a variety of cash crops and food so that they will always have something in season. The tea trees were often over-planted with taller fruit (?) trees. Notice how they are interlaced with bamboo poles which allow the pickers easy access.
The Goos have two pans — one gas-fed and one wood-burning. Mr. Goo’s father runs the wood-fired pan. It takes about 45 minutes to make the tea — here the fresh tea leaves have just been put in the pan. At the beginning of the one-month picking season it takes less time because the leaves are smaller and have less moisture after the dry winter.
The pan is the hottest at the start — note his gloves — and the tea leaves are kept in constant motion being tossed and turned until enough moisture is lost and then the hand-rolling began.
Daughter-in-law loads wood into the stove to keep the pan hot
Hand rolling the tea leaves.
Mister Goo on the gas fired pan.
A few minutes later we tasted the fresh Bi Lo Chun tea. The wood-fired brew has a fuller, thicker mouth-feel, and more baked popcorn on the nose. Definitely a difference between the gas and wood fired. Is that because Mr. Goo’s father is a more experienced tea maker or that the wood fire allows for more character?
The Goo family tea plot produces 15 kilos of finished tea a year. It takes about 6 kilos of fresh leaves to make one kilo of finished tea.
The Bi Lo Chun season had just ended, but the next day we were able to visit one of the local tea factories to see their set-up, now quiet until the next tea harvest. Tea is harvested most of the year but made into different kinds of tea.
The wicker drying racks for the fresh tea.
A line of wood-fired baking pans. The square holes in the walls allow the baker to converse with the person putting the wood under their pan.
Attached to the baking room was the sorting room. Under each bowl the paper was numbered to indicate which baking pan they came from.
Bi Lo Chun is a spring tea made from the season’s first, tender, very small and delicate leaves. It’s manufactured to seven different grades in decreasing order of quality and this factory made five of them. I want a set of these mugs!
Even at the factory level, making the tea involves alot of hands — there is very little mechanization.
Sunset over Lake Tai near Dong Ting Mountain.
The flock’s “Ribbed” style tea cosies have a wonderful puffer-fish expandability — but it wasn’t until quite a while after I designed them that I finally fully stuffed one of the Standard size and measured its circumference.
Woof — a 37″ circumference! Allowing an inch of pinch this would accommodate a teapot (including spout and handle) up to about 35″ around. If you’ve a large teapot, feel free to contact me and we can measure the height of its spout and handle, etc and ensure it will fit.
Use the contact form at the bottom of this page.
It works equally well on most standard 4-cup teapots though, which is what I use mine for. That’s the magic of this design — it’s very accommodating.
Ribbed tea cosies
If you drink oolong tea you’ve probably heard of yixing clay teapots. They are small unglazed teapots for preparing small, fresh infusions and reinfusions of oolong tea and come in a number of different natural clay colours from the region of Yixing in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu on the west side of Lake Tai. Mostly they are a purply-brown clay but can be reddish-brown and an ochre-yellow shade. I don’t know how long they’ve been being made in Yixing but they continue even today to be made there by skilled, master potters.
When I was there in a few years ago on one of Tao’s small tea tours, we visited a master potter, Master Zhou, who had a workshop in the beautiful and preserved old town of Yixing where many master ceramicists work with Yixing’s famous clay. He welcomed us with a fine pot of tea.
Zhou runs a small workshop with apprentices. He had five apprentices who had been studying with him for 6 months to three years.
Apparently a good yixing oolong pot should stand completely flat if upended with its lid.
The pots were traditionally fired in a “dragon kiln,” so-called because it winds uphill and has multiple air-holes through which the wood is loaded — they’re huge! At night it apparently looks like a long, snaking, fire-breathing dragon.
The next day we also visited other gas-fired kilns of a slightly more commercial nature.
There is huge demand for these little teapots both from within China and internationally. While I know that some made by master ceramicists demand very high prices, there are also many made by others, or from molds, that are priced for the regular consumer market.
I couldn’t leave without getting my own perfect little oolong teapot from Master Zhou. When I got home, and with Tao’s advice, I seasoned it before using it to make tea.
Finally had some time at the work table the other day — more of the colourful “Ribbed” cosy design in the small size.
These ones are sized for a small 2-cup teapot but because the design cleverly expands like a puffer fish it can accommodate one a little larger or one with a wide spout to handle dimension.
Go to the shop
If your teapot is large — or you just like the look — pull gently on opposite sides and the stiff felt will pop out like a puffer fish to wrap around the teapot.
It was love at first sight for me, because of its density and thickness and its vibrant colours, but a number of the reasons to love this beautiful, non-woven wool fabric are invisible.
- It’s a renewable resource. Sheep continually grow their wonderful woolly coats which are sheared each spring.
- It’s naturally fire resistant and is self extinguishing. If you hold a match to genuine, 100% wool felt it will start to burn — but if you take the lit match away the fire on the felt will smoulder and go out on its own.
- It has high thermal insulating properties and this is what makes wool felt brilliant for a tea cosy. (It is also extremely sound absorbing but that probably doesn’t matter for tea cosies.)
- It’s naturally water repellent — spilt tea, for instance, will first bead on the surface of wool felt giving one the opportunity to quickly blot it up.
- However it can absorb liquid four times its weight which make me think it would make a good door mat — if it wasn’t so pricey ;) It also means wool felt makes great shoe inserts — insulating and absorbing the sweat or dampness. Unlike anything polyester (plastic).
- The European 100% wool felt that FoTC uses is the best in the world. Unlike made-in-you-know-where felt which, in my experience, can be easily shredded, this European felt is manufactured to the very highest quality and they’ve been making it for over a century.
- It’s manufactured in an eco friendly manner. The thick, colourful European felt is made to Oeko-Tex 100 standards which mean its manufacturing creates no toxic waste. Children could chew on it and live to tell — although not recommended!
- Frankly it just feels great. It has a wonderful soft yet sturdy hand-feel which is an important quality for items we touch on a daily basis.
Some interesting things that are (or were before being replaced by a plastic fabric) made of 100% wool felt are:
- shoe inserts
- piano hammers, bass drum strikers and timpani mallets
- chalk board erasers
- music cassette tapes — a tiny cube held the tape to the sound head
- roofing felt
- shoulder pads
- Valenki — a type of traditional Russian footwear which are warm and dry and with good traction for walking on dry snow when the weather is frosty.
- In the automotive industry it has been used to dampen the vibrations between interior panels and also to stop dirt entering into some ball/cup joints
- for framing paintings — laid between the slip mount and picture as a protective measure to avoid damage from rubbing to the edge of the painting.
- in millinary — many hats including fedoras
- horse saddle felt
- house and sound insulation batting — still being done
When I was in England a few years ago I came across a fascinating book on the felt industry there. The industry, like so many, is now pretty much gone. While some of the reasons the industry disappeared may be considered short-sighted it is certainly true that most industry has a finite life-span before something new — sometimes something wonderful — comes along and replaces it, changing the labour demographics and economies of towns and even nations. Plus ça change…n’est-ce que pas?
But wool felt has experienced a recent resurgance in the design and DIY fields. Beautiful furniture and household wares — including tea cosies, french press coffee cosies, mug warmers (!) — as well as fashion items are available and can be found through quick, easy internet searches. (Try duckduckgo.com for non-tracked searches.) For a great collection of contemporary wool felt pieces by designers and artists (ahem, including flockofteacosy.com) you might be interested in this Sydney Morning Herald piece from a few years ago.
Flock of Tea Cosy’s shop.
Rejuvenating your wool felt tea cosy
Just back from a few days north of the city — still some spectacular colour clinging to the trees!
I was visiting SK, the friend to whom I’d given the very first tea cosy cut to what’s become the flock’s signature pattern — that rounded, Roman-helmet shape with a chatter of zig zag pinking along its edges.
The cosy then and now. Not bad but life’s added a few creases and folds.
In the five years since it was made the cosy has experienced normal wear and tear and stuffing-in-drawers between tea-drinking visitors so, having a lazy afternoon at hand, I thought I’d see what kind of ‘spa’ rejuvenation I could render on it.
MacGyvoring a rolled thick bath towel to substitute for a small sleeve-ironing board, I placed a clean wet tea-towel between the felt tea cosy and the medium-hot (on medium steam setting) iron and gently and quickly ironed over the creases on both sides. Then rolled the tea towel to insert in the wonky top tab so it wouldn’t create a crease while I, again putting a clean wet tea towel between it and the iron, gave it a quick pass or two.
Et voila — pleased to report that a little steam ironing with a wet tea-towel between the felt and the medium-hot iron worked wonders. Just like it’d spent a day at the spa.
The marshes and streams were bursting with beautiful bright red berries. I don’t know what they are but I brought home an armload for the dining table.
If your order here at Flock of Tea Cosy is a gift — (housewarming? Christmas, birthday? Mother’s Day? Hanukka?) — and you’d like it shipped directly to your giftee, we’d be happy to wrap it in special tissue and include a personal note from you for you. Either include a mention at check-out in the “Notes” field, or mention it when I contact you to confirm your order.
No extra cost. Easy peasy.
During my tea tour trip to China with Tao a couple of years ago, I was entranced by the abundance of beautiful, hand-made, all-natural material brooms everywhere. The photos aren’t necessarily great quality but the brooms are.
Each one has its own personality.
Within a generation these handmade lovelies will probably be replaced by the plastic (non-biodegradable) ones above. Colourful though, I suppose.
Lately I’ve been reaching for the oolong in the afternoons.
Specifically today it’s Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) from TaoTeaLeaf. By no coincidence it was with Tao that I went to the Wuyi mountains in China a couple of years ago to see and taste this wonderful tea. It felt a bit ridiculous to have accreditation as a Tea Sommelier without ever having seen a living breathing tea plant, and being on a ‘tea tour’ was a wonderful agricultural avenue into contemporary Chinese culture.
How about this for a mini, MacGyvered tea tray drain board? (It’s a steamer in a cake pan.) I got the little teapot on the same trip while in Yixing and seasoned it when I got back home.
The Wuyi mountains are famous for their oolongs and especially Da Hong Pao. Oh yes, and they’re gorgeous.
Da Hong Pao is an almost fully oxidised oolong, and this one has a beautiful warm aroma of fire and baked yam on the leaves and a typical stonefruit note of bitter-sweet apricot. It’s medium bodied and perfectly refreshing on this hot summer afternoon.
It’s a very grey rainy spring day here so find myself thinking of sunnier moments, like being in Paris last fall. Naturally had to visit a few tea establishments while there. One of them was the oh-so-French Nina’s Paris.
Nina’s Paris was named after Nina Diaz, who in 1778 created a recipe for a cake called NINASETTE that was offered to Marie-Antoinette on the occasion of the birth of her first child, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte. And yes, you can sample the cake in the perfect cake-box of a shop.
Marie Antoinette with her two eldest children, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte and the Dauphin Louis Joseph, in the Petit Trianon’s gardens, by Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller (1785). (Wikipedia)
Nina was a descendant — it’s hard to tell exactly which, from the website — of Pierre Diaz who founded Distillerie Frères in 1672. The distillery specialised in perfumes and essential oils and became the official supplier of said aromatics to the Court of Versailles from the time of King Louis XIV to Louis XVI (1754 – 1793) and his wife, Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793). Distillerie Frères were apparently the first in France to distill lavender oil — my fave, and something I strongly associate with France. In 1986 Nina’s Paris bought Distillerie Frères and the aromatics are used to flavour many of their teas.
It was under King Louis XIV that Le Potager du Roi (the King’s Kitchen Garden) was created, and Nina’s Paris also has an official partnership with the present-day garden. Their lovely Marie-Antoinette Tea blend is made with apples and roses from that garden. Very appropriate since it was said to be one of Marie-Antoinette’s favourite places.
Nina’s Paris’ selection of teas features black or green teas blended with fruits, herbs, flowers and essential oils as well as non-caffeinated tisanes of blended herbs or rooibos. Everything is beautifully packaged and if you’re in the market for gifts to bring home they also have gift boxes of tea as well as lovely jams, jellies and fruit drinks made from the bounty of Le Potager du Roi.
After we left Nina’s and we were about to sit down for a cup of tea there was a sudden, unbelievably strong downpour of rain. It lasted only about 15 minutes but long enough that we sat inside, rather than outside, at this lovely little tea spot, Cafe Kitsune, in one of the hidden treasures of Paris, Le Jardin du Palais. It’s probably this moment, on this rainy grey day, that takes me back to Paris.
I love this recycling idea from the days when every household had an old felt hat around. This comes from a 1933 item in a newspaper in northern Australia.
Here’s the link to the original file.
Have you seen these? Perhaps it’s the spring in my garden — the sweet warm air, the fresh almost rubbery flowery buds, the crazily chirping birds — but my mind has been turning to garden structures and what more appropriate for this flock than a modern tea house?
A tea house by Terunobu Fujimori
The Black Tea House By David Maštálka of A1 Architects with sculptor Vojtech Bilisic.
The Hat Tea House, also by A1 Architects
A pre-fab tea house kit from Tokyo Toshi
A student project by Simon Kaempfer
Actually designed by Saunders Architecture (photo by Iwan Baan) as an artist’s studio for Fogo Island, but a cup of tea would taste delicious in here I think.
I’d happily take any one of these, you?
Hey look what I found in a Tea Museum on Dong Ting mountain, the heart of Bi Lo Chun tea making — an antique tea cosy (!)
The metal-lined drawer held hot coals and the box on top was for the teapot. Clever, what? (Although not quite as quick and handy as one of the flock, but then I wasn’t around when this was made ;)
PS: my tea travels in China, including in the stunning Wuyi Mountains, were rich and amazing. Naturally I have loads of new fresh, fresh tea in my drawer. Glory hallelujah.
Ugh it’s an unbelievably grey, mushy, sloggy, soggy January day here. Pouring rain, melting snow, icy patches. You know what I mean.
However, nothing that some tea and toast and marmy (made on Saturday) can’t fix.
The tea is a Ti Kwan Yin oolong from the Fujian province in China, a gift from The Tea Stylist from her trip there last summer — a wonderful treat. Light, mouthwatering, a fresh floral aroma with a hint of pear and a soft smokyness. You can see from the leaves and the pale green-gold colour of the liquor that it is a lightly oxidised oolong — only a little bit of red-brown oxidation showing on the edges of the leaves.
There. I feel better already.
Almost every tea culture does it — warms the teapot (or teacup) with the boiling water before making the tea in it. Why? Because the room-temperature vessel will steal almost ten degrees Celsius from the hot water. This means if you don’t pre-warm your teapot, your lovely tea loses that heat immediately. One of this flock of tea cosies will do an excellent job of keeping your pot of tea hot, but it can only maintain the heat that’s there.
As you can see, within about 20 seconds this room-temperature ceramic creamer stole over 10 degrees celcius heat from the boiling water just like a teapot does.
So warm that teapot first, then slip your tea cozy over it (say, isn’t that a smart modern tea cozy right there) — and you’ll have piping hot tea for ages.
My cats, even though they’re getting on (15 and 16 years old) have wild moments of kittenish play. They can whisk a stray bit of felt off the table and down the hallway at an impressive speed but I got to wondering how safe the felt is for them.
So I called the felt company and got this glad news: the European felt is certified free of harmful substances by Oeko-Tex Standard 100. Loads of information on their website about the exhaustive tests they do.
I was told that the Industrial Felt, which is made here in the suburbs of Toronto, has not been submitted for testing due to the testing expense but that no harmful chemicals are used in its production either. However since it sheds a bit as I’m cutting it or they play with it, I tend to keep it under tighter wraps from feline hunting.
When I was in Paris a few weeks ago I was strolling through the Musee D’Orsay’s decorative arts galleries when my eye caught this beauty. Dating from 1904-07, it’s designed by Carlo Bugatti, father of Ettore Bugatti who started the eponymous automobile company.
I confess ignorance of Bugatti Sr’s (1856-1940) work as a designer. He was trained as an architect but apparently never worked as one. Instead he became a highly successful designer of household objects — side-tables, chairs, night-stands, stools, tableware, etc.
Okay, I thought it was a teapot but apparently it’s a watering can! Or at least a model for one. But it’s simply beautiful, yes?
(And I’m sure I could have used it as a teapot although would have called for a rather odd-looking tea cosy.)
Have you ever been to the Remodelista site? Everytime I visit I see something I like and the women who run it have “favorite things” listed that I either have or lust after so naturally I think they have exquisite taste. All to say that when they published something on this flock of tea cosies a few days ago, well, (blush) I just thought that was the cat’s pajamas.
Here’s the link … “Tabletop: Felt Teapot Warmers from a Flock of Tea Cosy”