Most tea lovers will delight in their favorite libation no matter what type of vessel in which it’s presented to them. Paper cup, fine china, or dollar store mug, anyone who adores tea won’t scoff at the cup. However, did you know that your tea cup can make a difference in how you enjoy your favorite brew?

You probably have your “comfort cup” that mug or tea cup that makes you feel cozy and good inside. The chipped and stained cup that brings you as much pleasure at the end of a long day as a well-worn pair of house shoes, or a ratty-tatty sweater. Your favorite mug holds so much more than tea. When you need to be comforted, assured and slip into the feeling of home-and-hearth you reach for your special cup without a second thought.

For those times when you serve up your leafy libation to others, say your best friend, your mother-in-law, or Her Majesty, The Queen of England, you may want to pack your tea party with a little more panache. Put away your “World’s Greatest Boss” or Snoopy and Woodstock mug for your private celebrations, and bring out the appropriate vessels that won’t only make you look like you know a thing or two about serving tea, but will actually make your tea taste better.

What Not to Use and Why

Plastic:  Plastic cups are never a good option for hot liquids. They possess inert toxins which can release and leach into your tea. No tea drinker with his pekoe would ever serve tea from a plastic cup. Even a traveling mug should be made from something other than plastic or metal.

Stainless Steel:  Although the right kind of stainless steel can make for a wonderful tea vessel, it’s usually a hit-and-miss opportunity when it comes to finding a worthy stainless steel tea cup. The less expensive variety of stainless steel can leach nickel and iron into your tea, altering the flavor most unappealingly. Given stainless steel’s ability to conduct heat you may risk a serious burn, especially to your lips and fingers.

Use With Care

Ceramic Tea Cups:  Ceramic cups and mugs are ideal for your coffee. They come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. The rough-hewn style of handle-free ceramic cups are really gaining in popularity among tea drinkers. They have a hipster-holistic appeal and hold just the right amount of tea. Just make sure your ceramic tea cup isn’t too porous, or only use it for one kind of tea. You don’t want to revisit the ghosts of teas past that may stay tucked inside the pores of the cup and leach into your next cuppa.

The Best Tea Cups to Use

Glass:  Glass is one of the best options for serving up the perfect cuppa. Because of the nature of this material your tea will not react to glass. Glass tea cups, especially the double walled variety, maintain the temperature of your tea, and a glass cup of tea is pretty aesthetically pleasing. Glass looks clean in appearance, it’s simplicity lends a beauty to your tea presentation. Glass tea pots are also very popular right now.

Porcelain and Bone China:  Porcelain and bone china have been used for centuries and are the pinnacle of class when it comes to serving up a cuppa. The thin lip, non-porous nature, and non-reactive glaze exemplifies the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Porcelain and bone china are somewhat interchangeable as they possess the same beneficial properties. However, if you are serving tea to your vegan pal, refrain from using the bone china. (Yes, it is actually made from pulverized bone.)

Points to Consider When Choosing Your Perfect Tea Cup

  • Choose a Non-Porous Material:  While your comfort mug is probably made of some kind of stone wear, this porous material really isn’t suitable for tea. Porous cups can impart the flavors of liquids which have been consumed from such vessels over time. So today’s Japanese Jade may indeed absorb the flavor of Uncle Harold’s rum-infused Christmas Nog from months ago. Even if you’ve only used your stone wear exclusively for tea, you can impart flavors of different teas without meaning to.


  • Thin-Edged Cups Prevent Dribbles:  There’s nothing quite as unbecoming as a “slurper” at a tea party. Slurping to avoid dribbling your tea down the front of your shirt is necessary when the lip of the cup is too thick. Always choose a thin-edged cup.


  • Made From Pure Materials:  Unless you’re serving teddy bears and baby dolls it’s doubtful you would use plastic cups in which to serve your tea. Please refrain from using any kind of artificial materials. Not only can these cups impart chemicals into your beverage, they aren’t very appealing.

Serving the perfect tea in the perfect tea cup is rather simple. Follow these practical examples and rules of thumb and you should be able to entertain anyone from royalty to regular folk with confidence. You might even find yourself trading up your cozy mug for a lovely antique porcelain tea cup the next time you need some potable comfort.