A Brief History of Tea Cups

So this week’s blog post will be on the history of tea cups, some rather interesting objects which, depending on where and when they have been used, come in different shapes and sizes. For starters, the common mug and recognisable tea-cup (with handles) and saucer have not always been that way. Indeed, when tea cups first came to Europe, during the time of George II, they were much like those in the Middle East, with no handles. The actual beginnings of tea cups can be traced back to China and India where cups were made out of porcelain and had no handles, often being called tea bowls, which remain in those countries today. These were originally made by potters in white or light blue and were used in China during the period 206-220 BC.

According to another source, tea cups were first introduced to us in the seventeenth century by the French, who originally drank from wooden tea cups. Due to the expensive nature of tea when it was first available in Britain, only the wealthiest Brits drank it. As a result, tea cups began in this country as dainty little porcelain cups with hand painted flowers and sometimes even gold leaf paint was also used. Tea cups were available with hand painted designs until the 1920s, when mass production took over. Nowadays, specially designed tea cups can only be found in vintage auctions or some British specialty shops. Royal Worcester china is also famous for making tea cups and other bone china items.

Another popular type of tea-cup is the amusement ride which is run by a motor that spins each individual tea cup in a gradually increasing speed, whilst the whole ride turns. This ride is popular in many countries and has also been adapted to features other than tea cups.

Back to drinking tea cups, in modern China and Japan the bowl shape, made out of porcelain and clay is still employed in the making of tea cups. In India however, a completely different glass or stainless steel tumbler style is used today, even some European designs still have no handles and as many of us are aware the American addition of the mug is often used in England today.






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