What do you drink your tea from? Do you use a clay mug? A Styrofoam cup? A bone-china teacup? There are almost as many different types of containers suited to drinking your tea from as there are types of tea!

Ceramic cups or mugs tend to be either hand-formed (thrown) from clay, dried, glazed, and then fired for strength & finish, or machine-formed. The process of drying, glazing, and firing tends to be the same in a factory-made cup or mug, but it is usually automated and done on conveyor belts and machines that make the process relatively no-touch from a human perspective.

Styrofoam, although the bane of the existence of environmentally-conscious people everywhere, is still used commonly today. It is an extruded polystyrene product that resists moisture and retains heat, making it perfect for housing hot beverages like tea. It is disposable, although not recyclable, and its presence in landfills and the landscape today is enough to raise the ire of those who prefer a “greener” type of warm-beverage container.

Bone china, as the name might suggest, contains bone, or rather calcined cattle bone, which is a fancy way of saying bone ash from cremation of cattle remains. While that may not be the most glamorous way of discussing cattle-remains, the bone ash is characterized by strength, translucency, and a white-colour when fired into china. Unlike many clay or ceramic pieces that are first air-dried and then fired after glazing, bone china undergoes a two-stage firing. The first firing is done without a glaze at temperatures of 1280°C (which is 2336°F), and then fired again at a lower temperature (1080°C/1976°F) after glazing. Bone china is often hand-painted in the glazing stage as well, employing the fine art of those skilled with a brush & paints to create unique, hand-crafted pieces. The resulting china is not only beautiful, but is strong and resistant to wear, although most people I know who own bone china do not wash their teacups, saucers, or dishes in automatic dishwashers with a desire to prevent microscopic scratches that can occur from the abrasives in dishwasher detergent.

No matter how you drink your tea or what you drink it from, cheers! Enjoy the sippable warmth and flavour that comes from your tea, regardless of the container.

Check Sue out on her blog, A Mother’s Heart.

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