If you are having issues brewing a proper cup of tea, your tea cup may be the source of your troubles. Not all tea cups are the same. The general consensus among the tea community is that a tea cup in measurement terms is 6.0 ounces. However, here are three topics that came to mind.
1) Size: As you can see in the photo above, not all tea cups are the same size.
If you are directly infusing your tea into the teacup, then knowledge of the tea cup size is essential in the calculation of how much tea to use. It should also be noted that although a cup may hold 7 ounces of fluid. most people do not fill the cup to the brim, so in reality there would be 6 ounces of fluid.
However if you have brewed your tea in another vessel and then pour and strain tea into the cup the cup size should not be much of an issue in brewing a proper cup of tea.
2) Material: The material of your cup is also important to think about when drinking your tea.
Bone China - Bone china tea cups are my personal cups of choice. They are regal, sophisticated, and O’ so British, but they are also delicate and porous. If you let your tea sit too long (20+ min) in a bone china cup, then the cup may absorb the color of the tea. If this happens, you will need to hand wash the cup to try to remove the stain. Unfortunately, for the cup below, it was to late to fix the damage.
Porcelain - I don’t have much to say about porcelain. It’s a good alternative to bone china and quite versatile for the most part. One thing that is great about porcelain is the variety of handmade designs available on the market.
Glass - I find glass to be aesthetically pleasing. It’s nice to see through your cup of tea and it is a good compromise between the experience of bone china and the convenience of porcelain. One area of caution to keep in mind when using a glass cup is that hot glass and cold glass look exactly the same, so be cautious when picking up a glass tea cup.
Stainless Steel - Well, one of the first things to keep in mind about stainless steel is that metal conducts heat very well, therefore it does not insulate very well and your cup of tea will cool down faster. Some people may or may not want this. However, if you are looking for a stainless steel cup that does offer some insulation protection, I recommend the double walled stainless steel espresso cup (featured in the photo at the top of this post), which is available at crate and barrel.
Cast Iron - It looks great and resonates with feudal lux, but it may not be the most practical drinking vessel for daily use. When you do use them, hand wash these cups and dry them immediately. Also, use caution when using chemicals to clean the cups. The tea cups do a great job of insulating your tea and I specifically drink out of them when I’m in the mood to down a whole pot of tea.
Clay - These are the choice cups for chai tea street carts in India and can add a unique, earthy undertone to your cup of tea. It should be noted that clay is porous and will absorb the flavor of the tea you are drinking, so it is best to always use the same tea for the same cup or you may risk inviting unwanted flavors. As a side note, clay has natural antibacterial properties due to it’s unique structure where bacteria have a very difficult time physically adhering themselves to clay. The research on the clay-antibacterial connection is on-going. Here is link to a article with more on the topic
Bamboo/gourds - Using natural fiber cups as a tea cup are usually regional favorites (i.e. Argentina, China etc ), but they serve their purpose. Mate gourds are almost mandatory for mate drinkers in South America. These natural fiber drinking vessels are like clay - they are porous and add a woody undertone to your tea. I will be going more into the subtleties of bamboo cups and gourds in a future post.3) Cold cup + Hot tea = a not so hot cup of tea
This is pretty simple. To brew a proper cup of tea, first, give your tea cup a gentle rinse with hot water before pouring tea into the cup. That way you will now have a warm cup for your hot tea, which equals a perfect cup of tea.
Brew Tea, Make Friends,
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Curious about what tea cup cools the fastest? Click here to read about tea cup thermoconductivity.