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Tea with Jane

Oct 30, 2013

There is something quintessential about a British cottage. Pastoral in setting and charming in scope, they are found throughout Jane Austen's novels: the Dashwood's Barton Cottage, Aunt Norris's cottage in Mansfield Park, and Persuasion's Uppercross Cottage come to mind. Nearly all of Jane Austen's novels were written from her home at Chawton Cottage, where she resided with her dear sister, Cassandra, and their mother. We can only imagine the conversations around the tea table in that place and how their society inspired Jane's beloved literary characters.

Sometimes a project grabs your heart and won't let go. For me, this happened with Cottage Tea Cozy by Joanna Johnson, from Jane Austen Knits 2013. It's so charming. The cozy reminds me of playing with doll houses as a child, which was one of my favorite things to do. Whether it was the Barbie Dream House or the Victorian doll house at my Gramma's, I was all in.

I'll admit that I'm more of a coffee person than a tea person, but I would love to knit the Cottage Tea Cozy, put it on a tea pot, and display it in a prominent place in my china cabinet. It could be the catalyst to a fabulous tea party, too!

Tea Time

Tea was important in Jane Austen's time. It was a time to gather with friends and family, gossip, and catch up with each other. Tea played a large part in society in Jane's life, as it continues to do in the UK, and around the world, today.

In Jane Austen Knits 2013, Bonnie-Lynn Nadzeika researched tea in Jane's time, and her article is fascinating. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

It is well documented that Jane Austen purchased her tea at Twinings. In 1814, while she was staying with her brother Henry in London, she wrote in a letter, "I do not mean to pay Twining until later in the day, when we may order a fresh supply."

In today's mind, the range of tea available then seems limited, but current choices would have overwhelmed Jane and her characters. The menu at Twinings in 1814 would have included Pekoe, Imperial, Bloom and Imperial, Congo, Congo with Pekoe, Congo with Bohea, Green Tea (also known as Hyson), Green Dust, Green and Imperial, Bloom Green, and Finest Hyson. The selection would grow as Twining is credited with introducing the blending of teas to suit different tastes.

You can still purchase tea from Twinings
on the Strand in London where
Jane Austen bought her tea.
While she would have been just another customer in 1814, today Twinings emphatically celebrates Jane Austen and her relationship with tea, declaring on its website, "The undisputed queen of all things tea, however, has to be the Georgian author, Jane Austen, where almost every social situation in her novels revolves around the taking of tea."

Indeed, many of the key scenes in her novels take place during a time when the characters were enjoying tea. After Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley come to an understanding about their feelings for each other in the novel Emma, Austen paints a vivid image: "They sat down to tea—the same party round the same table—how often it had been collected!"

Generations of imaginative readers have felt their pulses quicken as another pair of Austen's lovers engage in the intimate daily ritual of a meal, providing a glimpse of the "happy ever after" that all of her heroines would achieve.

Perhaps that is why Jane Austen and her novels appeal to women even today. Her characters do not exist in an exalted plane beyond the realm of our own experiences. They visited and drank tea. They spent their hours at home engaging in the daily tasks of sewing and mending.

So, make a pot of tea, take up your latest knitting project, and enjoy the company of your most intimate circle.

—Bonnie-Lynn Nadzeika, from Jane Austen Knits 2013

I feel like cozying up with with my knitting and a cup of Earl Grey, don't you? Get your copy of Jane Austen Knits today; there's lots more to learn about tea time in the 1800s, plus fabulous patterns that evoke Jane's lifestyle and literary characters, and life in the Regency era in Britain.


P.S. Do you prefer tea or coffee with your knitting? Leave a comment and cast your vote!

Featured Product

Jane Austen Knits 2013 Digital Edition

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Dive into 31 knitting patterns inspired by Jane Austen and the Regency era in which she lived, discover the history of dorset buttons, and more in the Jane Austen Knits 2013 special issue.


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on Nov 10, 2013 10:28 PM

Tea, thank you. A pot of British blend in the morning and Twinings decaf Earl Grey while I'm knitting. If I need a cup of comfort, I drink Twinings Pure Peppermint out of a huge cat mug that belonged to my Granny. Knitting and tea to soothe the soul!

on Nov 10, 2013 10:28 PM

Tea, thank you. A pot of British blend in the morning and Twinings decaf Earl Grey while I'm knitting. If I need a cup of comfort, I drink Twinings Pure Peppermint out of a huge cat mug that belonged to my Granny. Knitting and tea to soothe the soul!

on Nov 10, 2013 10:27 PM

Tea, thank you. A pot of British blend in the morning and Twinings decaf Earl Grey while I'm knitting. If I need a cup of comfort, I drink Twinings Pure Peppermint out of a huge cat mug that belonged to my Granny. Knitting and tea to soothe the soul!

bnadz wrote
on Nov 5, 2013 12:49 PM

Thank you so much for your kind words. Joanna and I have been friends for nearly 20 years so we both got a kick out of being featured together! As for me, I generally drink coffee, but when I'm reading British novels or knitting tea seems more apropos!

SeattleSuze wrote
on Nov 4, 2013 4:17 AM

Tea indeed.  Whether it's Irish Breakfast in the morning, Lapsang Souchong by the fire, or Earl Grey in the afternoon, I'm all about tea.  My favorites lately have been Chai to sip at the dog park on Saturday mornings, Ginger for good health, and Peppermint.  My favorite iced tea, Black Currant from Freed's in San Francisco, has disappeared with their retirement.  Nothing compares.

on Nov 3, 2013 8:15 AM

I like a big cup of tea to my knitting in winter. In summer it has to be icetea.

joy jhugroo wrote
on Nov 3, 2013 4:16 AM

I forwarded this post to a friend who lectures in Jane Austen at Leiden University. She was astounded at the existence of Jane Austen inspired knits. Her legacy of romance, social etiquette and parlour room gossip goes on forever.

rosemckinney wrote
on Nov 2, 2013 4:42 PM

I love the tea cozy. Is there a tea cozy knitting book you can recommend?

Gwen@29 wrote
on Nov 2, 2013 3:00 PM

I, like Jane Austen, prefer Twinings tea. A cup of Earl Grey upon waking and while I'm knitting.

csklenaR wrote
on Nov 2, 2013 12:05 PM

When cold outside - Hot chocolate.  When it's hot or warm outside, then it's Pepsi or Lemonade.

hknbbaird wrote
on Nov 2, 2013 11:36 AM

I'm sipping from my tea tumbler of Russian Caravan as I read through this week's Knitting Daily posts.

Mhorgan wrote
on Nov 2, 2013 11:21 AM

Reminds me of home

Sharon1220 wrote
on Oct 30, 2013 11:59 PM

Tea, please.  I cannot abide the smell of coffee, let alone try to drink it.  I've been enjoying Twinning's Pumpkin Spice tea the last few days.

ssswolfe wrote
on Oct 30, 2013 6:27 PM

Coffee!  Java!  Joe!  Kona!  

Home-made cappuccino to start the day, black coffee to keep the juices running smoothly.  

mandyangela wrote
on Oct 30, 2013 5:46 PM

Tea!!  I love Assam tea.

Suzibee wrote
on Oct 30, 2013 3:46 PM

I love hot tea.

And love the tea cozy!! Will just have to make it.

JoyceM@15 wrote
on Oct 30, 2013 3:08 PM

I am definitely a tea person.  I prefer Lady Grey to Earl Grey, though...

on Oct 30, 2013 2:59 PM

I love my tea and I love it hot

on Oct 30, 2013 12:31 PM

Actually, I would probably have to vote for tea. I don't mind if my tea gets cold, but cold coffee doesn't do it for me.

Charlotte25 wrote
on Oct 30, 2013 11:57 AM

Kathleen, I am a confirmed tea drinker, several cups every day.  Of course, I love both knitting and Jane Austen.  By the way, where did the reference to 1840's come from?  Jane Austen was Regency, 1775-1815.   I am packing to move house but now I want to stop and reread Persuasion.  Oh, dear, what you did!  Best, Charlotte