Some teacups seem to go naturally with certain types of tea. Green tea seems best in a handleless cup, for example, while a hearty English or Irish Breakfast tea isn’t quite the same if not served in a sturdy mug. As I learn more about teas and living the “tea life,” my collection of teacups and mugs grows, along with my bevy of teapots. (All you people out there with a silver teapot, especially if it’s an antique, have my envy. I’ll have one someday!)
Teacups come in an array of shapes and sizes. They are also made from different materials. There’s fine bone china, so delicate that if you hold your cup or saucer up to the light, you can see a glow through it. Glass is another option; I like these for teas such as Keemun, Assam, breakfast blends in which I use milk so, as the milk is slowly added, I can watch the interaction, partly of cold against hot, and partly the heavier, denser “cloud” of milk versus the less dense tea (yes, sometimes I still play with my food). A durable porcelain cup also works well for these teas where milk and possibly sweetener are added; they have an air of delicacy in their design yet give a sturdy feel in the hand, just as the tea seems to fill a void inside as you drink.
Then, there are mugs. What can I say? The variety is seemingly endless, in either porcelain, ceramic, glass, or even some metals (pewter used to be popular). Sizes, shapes, colors, handle size and location, lidded or lidless, and decoration are restricted only by imagination (and certain practical considerations). Brick-and-mortar stores carry limited selections, but online shops seem to offer an infinite variety. Decorations cover holidays, sports, hobbies, professions, humor, and on and on. Small wonder. A nice mug is the quintessential gift. Is a relative having a birthday? Give ’em a mug. Your son or daughter have a favorite teacher? Say “Thanks” with a nice mug. But that’s not the only reason for the popularity of mugs. A mug in the hand, whether filled with coffee, cocoa, or tea, is comforting. It takes away the chill of a Winter’s day, especially after you’ve been outside for hours, raking leaves or shoveling snow. It also fills the hand just right, giving you something homey and solid to hold onto. Just about any of the darker, stronger tasting teas go great in a mug. From hearty PG Tips to Pumpkin Spice Black Tea.
Don’t forget the little handleless cups used in Asian restaurants. Imagine munching on sushi, octopus, dim sum, or other delicacies, and then reaching for a big mug to sip on a delicate Oolong or green tea. Something about this picture doesn’t seem quite right. I just had to have a few of handleless cups at home for when I enjoy one of these teas and an appropriate taste treat.
As for tisanes or a Moroccan mint tea, a tall glass in a silver holder, like the ones seen in the “Poirot” series starring David Suchet in the title role, is for me the definitive container. The style and grace of such vessels sets a teatime tone that says, “Time to pause and enjoy a moment to yourself.”
Time to pick a tea and the right teacup or mug to enjoy it in. Cheers!
A.C.’s blog is a great place to find more advice on living the “tea life.”