As someone who has been a tea drinker since a relatively young age, I never really thought too much about the specific vessel from which I personally drank my tea.
But there have always been people around me, who need to have their tea in specific cups/mugs.
– My mum has always had a thing where as much as she loves tea, she can only drink it from small cups. These don’t have to be fancy, but just small, dainty-ish cups do the trick. She could drink 3 cups in a row like that, but couldn’t have her tea in a large mug that would hold the same quantity.
– A colleague I used to work with had a similar thing in that she couldn’t drink tea out of large mugs; she needed the lip of the cup/mug to be thin.
– When one of my friends started dating her now husband, I remember her telling me that he would only drink tea from fine china as he couldn’t stand the taste otherwise.
Interestingly, as time goes on and I drink more and more tea, from more and more different types of cups/mugs I can totally get behind a lot of these things. That’s because it’s just really nice to drink from nice tea cups. Ever since I was about 18, I’ve been collecting teacups and teapots, and I try and cycle through most of them in a year period (many get used during winter, of course!), and it’s always such a nice experience. They look beautiful and they’re just so nice to use and drink from.
When I started at my current workplace, just over 3 years ago, we only had big, chunky mugs in our kitchen and whenever I made myself a normal black tea with milk it tasted really bizarre. I couldn’t work it out for ages, until after about 4 months, we needed more mugs, and instead of replacing them with more of the same, we had nice thin mugs with a curved edge to them. I remember my manager saying she’d chosen them because they’re nicer to drink tea from. And she was right! Making tea in those immediately made it taste better than the other chunky mugs.
But how much of this is a psychological thing, and how much is it really the impact of the drinking vessel on the specific tea? Through my research, I could never really find a definitive answer as to whether or not fine china or bone china makes a difference to the taste of tea.
The most common thing I saw was that as fine china is thin, the tea cools quicker, and in doing so allows you to taste the different flavours that may be present in your tea. Similarly, the thinness also can also allow the aroma of a tea to permeate more, which adds to the drinking experience. One article I saw mentioned that as bone china has calcium in the porcelain, this can have a positive impact on the flavour of the tea being released. Overall, there doesn’t seem to be much proven scientific evidence as to why fine china or bone china can make tea taste nicer, but I’m definitely going to keep researching and looking for answers, because I’m very curious!
But the main thing is: if you enjoy drinking tea from a nice cup, just do it!
There’s no harm in having a preference to how you drink your tea. If like my mum, you’d rather have several smaller cups that one large cup, go for it. If having a thin cup like my old colleague, or a fine china cup like my friend’s husband makes the experience nicer, that’s brilliant!
Drinking tea is and has been for many cultures around the world a whole experience and ritual, so if that’s your ritual, embrace it. For me, I’ll be drinking from my lovely teapots and teacups when I can and when I feel like it, but if I want a quick tea, a mug and teabag will also work for me.