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Beautiful tea towels from eight top designers

By Michele Foley

Tea towel, dishtowel, kitchen towel: Whatever you call it, it’s definitely part towel. The name tea towel originated in England, referring to linen cloths used to dry delicate and expensive china—mostly pieces of tea services.

Dishtowel and kitchen towel are more self-explanatory. Whichever term you prefer, it always refers to a cloth (usually rectangular in shape) made from natural fabrics, like linen or cotton, that’s used to dry china and other dishes, or your hands. Today, a new crop of designers is reinventing the humble cloth. Below are CHOW’s selections of some of the prettiest tea towels on the market. We’ll leave it to you to decide if they’re cleanup tools or pieces of art.

Michele Foley is CHOW’s editorial assistant.