The English word “tea towel” is now pretty much a synonym for kitchen towel or dish towel. It is made of linen or cotton.
Tea towels were invented in England in the 18th century. At the time it was an accessory for the wealthy.
People would use them to dry and clean teaware, as well as wrapping teapots so that the tea would keep warm.
But nowadays there isn’t a specialized towel for tea in the West.
Japanese tea towels
There are two cloths used in the Japanese tea ceremony: the chakin and the fukusa.
Chakin (茶巾) means tea towel. It’s used for wiping tea bowls.
The fukusa (帛紗, 袱紗) is used for wiping tea utensils such as the chashaku and the natsume.
However, these towels aren’t used in casual tea drinking.
For my tea sessions, I always have a kitchen towel by my side. My favorite one is green.
You never know when you’ll spill some tea or need to clean your teaware. For example, after preparing matcha I wipe the chashaku with the kitchen towel.
If one would like to be more authentic when preparing Japanese tea, perhaps a Japanese hand towel called tenugui could be useful.
Click here to see a good one that I found Amazon.
Do you use a tea towel?