How do you start your day? While most Australians start their day with a cup of hot coffee, there are those of us who prefer a nice hot brew of tea, much like they do in Britain. In terms of national tea consumption habits, about 61% of Australians born between 1945 and 1975 enjoy this hot beverage per week. Some like our tea pure, others like it sweetened with their favourite sweetener, mixed with milk or some bickies too.
No matter whether you’re up for some black, green, white, oolong, herbal, mate, rooibos or pu’erh tea, the cup is more important than you think. As a drinking receptacle, it plays a role in the taste of your tea. The convenient and hygienic paper cups cafés offer are all the rage for hot and cold bubble teas, but if you compare them to china, there’s no doubt you’re going to note a difference.
In addition to altering a bit of the taste of your favourite brew, and depending on the paper and the flavour too, most paper cups are actually a health hazard. This is because they have an internal lining of plastic, a thin waterproof film added to prevent the liquid from destroying the paper. Hot beverage takes about 15 minutes to degrade this plastic and release it.
So, if you want to truly make yourself and your health a favour, and enhance your tea-drinking experience, ditch the disposables and pick the reusables. Yes, I’m talking about the good old combo of breakfast cups and saucers that are functional and utterly stylish. So, how do you find the right match?
As mentioned, the paper + plastic pair is a big no-no for your tea-drinking ritual, especially when you’re at home enjoying your breakfast before the hectic daily schedule. Material has a role not only in the drink’s taste and flavour, but its temperature as well, so if you want to let your tastebuds be tempted then what you should be looking for is bone china.
Is bone china good for tea? I hear you asking yourself, and the answer is one big and resounding yes. The versatile shapes, sizes, and delicate and beautifully patterned aesthetics aside, the bone china breakfast cups and saucers are characterised by a smooth surface that may not seem all too important to you but it should.
The smoother the surface, the lesser the risk of tea’s natural caffeine and tannin sticking to the mug and ruining the taste and flavour as there’s no porosity to worry about. Also, whichever other liquid you use the cup for, be it coffee, milk, or even hot cocoa, you can count on the same benefit. Cups with porous surfaces retain the flavour of anything you put in them from the other hot beverages, and these then mix with tea, for example.
Another benefit of the non-porosity of the bone china breakfast cups is the ease of maintenance. Since the surface is very smooth, easy cleaning and washing up are both guaranteed. And, of course, over time, you’d get to appreciate the material for its resistance to stains, so your precious duos of cups and saucers would look good as new for years to come.
This may not be your priority when shopping for the perfect teacups, but it is a factor that also has a say in whether or not you’d get to lose some of the tea’s flavour. The pieces with thicker rims mean there’s more obstacle between you and your favourite drink, so they may not be that easy to slurp from, especially if you’re in a hurry to get the taste and flavour immediately.
A breakfast cup made from bone china has a thinner rim, which further makes it a better option that can make your tea drinking all the more special. Keep in mind this means the rim of the suitable saucer is also thinner, so it’s perfect if you’re in the habit of the age-old practice of drinking your favourite brew from the saucer to better cool it off.
Some like their tea in small quantities, while others prefer to drink up as much of it as they can to bear with the day ahead. Not surprisingly, there are breakfast cups and saucers available in a range of sizes, so the ideal option for you depends on how much capacity it is you’re looking for.
Standard cups go up to 295ml, with some small capacities being as low as 30ml. Mid-size pieces of at least 300ml are perfect if you like to drink up more, large ones can go from 400ml and above, whereas very large ones can even hold up to 500ml or more.
The cup and saucer are simply inseparable because the saucer is what protects your precious furniture from heat stains, as well as your hands from burns, and makes for a more sophisticated form of drinking tea – which is important if you care about drinking etiquette. Holding the cup in one hand and the saucer in the other may not be easy at first, but with a little bit of practice, you too can drink like one of the royals.
If you tend to entertain, it’s also of use to choose the design of the bone china in colour and style that are the right fit for your serving tray, and the rest of the suitable dishware. A creamer for milk, a sugar pot, and some small plates for snacks and pastries in a design and pattern that are harmonious with the cup and saucer would certainly take the experience to a whole other level.
Lastly, depending on how many people there are in your household, and how many visitors you usually receive, you should choose the adequate number. It’s no use investing more upfront only to keep them in the glassware display cabinet for years and years. They’re meant to be enjoyed, much like your tea!