Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hot tea - china or mug?

Yesterday I blogged about curling up with a blanket, a book and cup of tea - the perfect combination for a perfect Saturday afternoon of rainy weather.  I even have a sweet husband who brewed a perfect pot of tea.  However, he poured it in a big mug which made the perfect pot of tea less than perfect in my opinion.  I immediately poured it back in the pot and delicately poured it in a bone china cup which made it once again - perfect.  (I think I'm using too many "perfect" words here.)

When he asked what I was doing, I answered "everyone knows that tea tastes better out of a china cup!".  "It's all in your head", he said.  I immediately went to Google for an answer.  It had to be there - I was sure I wasn't the only  one who wanted confirmation - like maybe a scientific explanation or something. "Tea in a china cup", I typed.  Immediately a long string of  "does tea taste better in a china cup" threads appeared on my screen.  Although clicking the links to each of them was going to be time consuming, I trudged along looking for the "perfect" answer.  There wasn't one.  I found everything from "No, it's all in your head" to "it's the presentation that counts".  But wait!  There it is!  Or at least it was the answer that I liked the best - not scientific but it makes sense - sort of.  Here's the proof:
It really, really does taste better out of a china cup (or mug). I think it's the width of the rim. China is so thin, so the mouth doesn't have to be so 'open' as you drink. With mugs, the rims are so wide, your lips are further apart, so you lose a lot of the taste. Plastic cups, whilst having a thin rim, have a hollow rim, so as well as getting that nasty plastic taste, you drink to the sound of gurgling (as the liquid gets stuck in the rim). It also cools down quicker. A polystyrene cup is just awful to drink tea out of. The whole texture of the thing is dreadful. It's like drinking tea out of a knitted woollen sock!

Well, it's a little of a stretch to say it's the "proof", but it sounds good to me.  At least I'm not the only one who thinks so.  I also think that iced tea or soda tastes better out of a real glass versus plastic and coffee is better out of a mug that turns in a bit at the lip versus out.  But I'm not so rigid about my coffee - just give it to me black and strong and I'm good to go.  But I'm really, really fussy about my hot tea - china or not at all.  On cold days when my granddaughters come over, they want hot tea.  And of course they have their favorite china cups.  Genevieve always wants hers out of the Christmas china cup.

I realize that everyone also has their preferences about what they put into hot tea.  I like mine with a little sugar and lemon but since we don't do sugar at our house, I settle for Splenda or Truvia.  Henry was sweetening his with Sweet 'n Low.  I told him that Splenda is better for hot drinks and Sweet  'n Low is better for cold.  Again, he just shook his head.  "I know, I know, it's all in my head", I say.

But really!  How do you like your hot tea?  China cup or mug?  Sweet or unsweet?  Cream or Lemon?  I would also like to hear from my friends from other countries.  Weigh in on this one with your comments please - it's important that I get some confirmations here.
Photo of me and friends at a Christmas Tea last December


  1. Thank you for coming to my blog and signing up to be follower #54! Mrs. RWP and I drink plenty of The Southern National Drink, iced cold sweet tea, but our morning favorite is hot, green, decaffeinated tea (sadly, in mugs). Sometimes we put honey in it and sometimes we put Splenda.

    This is from someone in England: You Americans are so strange. You boil tea to make it hot, then you put ice in it to make it cold. You put sugar in it to make it sweet, then you put lemon in it to make it sour. And then you say, "No, thanks, I think I'll have coffee instead!"

  2. Thank you for this funny little post about china cups and tea. I just arrived home with a bag full of china cups and saucers as part of a Christmas tradition I'm starting. You see, I own 24 tea cups--all different. I have my favorite and I use them for tea parties with my friends. They have their favorites too. My 28 year old daughter likes to barrow my cups to entertain at her place. I was thinking that my daughters and nieces needed sets like mine. So, I've decided to start them off with a couple of cups/saucers each and then add to their sets as time goes on.

    I ended up at my computer looking up why tea tastes better in china cups, just like you. Glad I finally found some proof!

    1. Thank you for your comment Holly! I have lots of vintage cups and saucers too. That's a wonderful idea for gifts - most everyone loves a pretty teacup!

  3. I know your blog is getting on a little but i was doing the same thing asking why tea tastes better in china

    this is what i came across

    "There are actually a couple of real-world reasons as to why tea does taste better in a bone-china teacup. First, the thinness of the bone china lets the tea cool down much quicker and you can definitely taste some of the subtleties of various teas much easier. Also, the broad rim of a teacup let you smell the tea a lot easier. The aromas are integral in the final taste that you experience. So there you go. Unpack those old teacups and enjoy a 'better' cup of tea!"

  4. I compared tea in a bone china mug that was three inches across to the outside of the flared top to another mug that was also three inches across. Both mugs are pretty and I am fond of them; neither makes me fantasize that I am dining with the Queen.

    I really like the bone china taste better. I notice this at the start when the tea is closer to the top, hotter and I am less sated. The effect seems less at the bottom.

  5. Hi There, thanks for your ruminations about tea in china cup -v- mug. I thought I'd share my tea preferences. I like to drink green tea in the morning with breakfast out of my favorite Emile Henry classic mug. Then in the afternoon at around 4 pm I like to brew a porcelain pot of black tea and pour it into the lovely china tea cups and saucers that my mother gave me. It's all about the "tradition" of having that afternoon cup of tea...the pouring into the teacups, the sipping, having another cup, etc. The tea stays hot in the teapot under a "tea cozy" Sometimes I add milk, sometimes I just drink it black...I never add sweetener (especially not those poisons like splenda and sweet 'n low!!)
    And I agree with you about styrofoam cups--it does taste like drinking out of a woolen sock...ha ha!!
    Thanks! Enjoy your tea traditions!


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