There are those among us who are … uh … well … less than fastidious about keeping their teacup or mug clean between uses. Let’s face it — we have busy lives and sometimes we are in situations where such cleaning is not very practical. Hubby used to work in a small office (four people) where their tiny lunch room (actually, a corner of the storage room) had no sink. So, his cup would get a bit crusty and would need to be brought home for a run (or two or three) through the dishwasher that we had then. “Why bother?” you might ask. Several reasons, as you will see below.
1 Minimize Staining
Tea and coffee tend to stain ceramic, enamel (such as on your teeth), and porcelain, especially in any areas that are cracked or where the glazing is thin. I have even had stains build up on stainless steel. Tea stains are a type of tannin stain that build up over time. They cause discoloration and should be removed to ensure a flavorful cup of tea. Common household substances can be used to remove these stains. One method is to use a little baking soda (add a bit of table salt for more scrubbing power) on a damp cloth (dampen the inside of the teacup or mug first), scrubbing, rinsing thoroughly and then washing normally with dish soap.
2 Avoid Cross Flavoring
Those same tannins in the tea build up a residue that can alter the flavor of future cups of tea. This is especially important if you enjoy various flavored teas. If you have cup of Earl Grey tea and then a cup of Holiday Spice tea, your Holiday Spice will taste like Earl Grey. The same is true if the order is reversed. Also, jasmines, Moroccan Mint, and other fairly strongly flavored teas will flavor whatever tea you have in the cup or mug next.
3 Prevent Bacterial Growth
That crusty residue, especially if you put milk in your tea, can end up being a haven for bacteria. Plus your lips leave a residue on the rim of the cup/mug. Of course, if you wash the cup/mug at the office break room sink, avoid that germ-laden sponge or scrub brush. I found that washing with hot water and soap and drying with a paper towel removes most residue and that a weekly washing at home (in the dishwasher and using the dry cycle if possible) will keep the cup fairly germ free.
4 Consideration for Family and Co-Workers
In either your home or workplace, a totally grody cup or mug can cause those around you to become nauseated and even lose their appetites. They might develop the habit of scurrying away whenever you approach carrying that cup/mug or at least averting their gaze away from the offending vessel. They might even designate a corner just for you to enjoy your cuppa without them having to see and imagine the gunk inside that cup/mug. Ugh!
5 Preserve the Cup/Mug for Future Generations
Depending on how special that cup/mug is, you may have thoughts of preserving it for posterity, bequeathing it to a son, daughter, niece, nephew, or some other special person in your life. Passing on to them something grotesquely layered with tea residue is hardly thoughtful!
Well, I hope this has convinced those of you (and you know who you are) who have let their cups/mugs become so unsightly and disgraceful to “clean up your act” for the sake of your tea taste, your health, and those around you.
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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