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Does Your Teacup Shape Influence Your Tea Drinking Experience?

What do you prefer to drink your tea from? Is it a porcelain teacup with matching saucer? A pottery mug? Or a glass cup through which you can enjoy the tea's colour?

In part one of this two-part article series, we looked at how the colour of your teacup can influence your tea drinking experience. Today we take a look at how the shape, size and material of your cup can impact upon that very same tea drinking experience.

Points to Consider When Choosing a Teacup

A teacup is an indispensable accessory for tea drinking. Not only does it bring tea to your mouth, but it also helps to stimulate your senses. The material your cup is made with, the size, shape and lip thickness all play a role in influencing your tea drinking experience. According to the Tea Guardian, a bigger or wider cup can change the texture of your tea infusion. Heat dissipates quickly on the surface of your infusion in a wider cup, resulting in a lesser quality infusion.

The Tea Guardian also reported that when it comes to the teacup rim, the thinner the rim, the better the tea flows. For example, the classic teacup lip is curved on its rim, fitting perfectly against your lower lip and ensuring a smooth flow of tea. With a wider top half and narrow base, the classic teacup shape is better at cooling your tea, helping to keep the correct infusion texture. A cup that has straight sides or curves inwards though, does hold the aroma better, but can result in a loss of infusion texture. 

Ellementry suggests that a teacup with a tapered thin lip delivers tea to your mouth more favourably, letting the tea glide onto your tongue for maximum taste bud exposure. They also point out that the inner surface of your cup should be smooth and non-porous, in order to ensure the tea retains its distinctive flavours and aroma. A porous cup was found to be more likely to retain some of the tea flavours and aromas, rather reducing the overall experience.

Interestingly enough, the handle on the teacup was not mentioned as playing an impact upon the tea drinking experience for the senses. However, teacup handles were added to European teacups for a few reasons, two of which we'll share with you. The first is that black tea was brewed at higher temperatures than green tea in China. When drinking tea from the saucer (where it was poured to cool down) was no longer fashionable, a handle was added. The second is that as time passed, tea became cheaper in Europe, resulting in an increased cup size. Once again a handle was added to make it easier to hold the cup, but this time for size and comfort rather than cup temperature.

In summary, our thoughts are:

  • a thinner teacup lip assists in tea gliding over your tongue differently and reaching more taste buds
  • a thinner lipped teacup encourages mindful tea drinking, enhancing the experience
  • a cup made with a porous material will capture some of the flavour and aroma of your tea
  • a shallow or wider cup cools tea rapidly
  • handles make it easier to hold the cup, therefore do contribute with the all over tea drinking experience.

We'd love to learn what your favourite tea drinking cup looks like. Feel free to drop us a line and share your teacup thoughts with us.


Posted: Friday 4 December 2020