Hello all

“Who decided that we should stop drinking tea out of tea cups?” I lamented to my husband the other morning while drinking tea out of a mug far too large for its own good.

I wanted to know how long has it been since teapots and tea cups went out of fashion for every day use in the home. I wanted to get the person responsible and give him/her a good clip across the ear because I do not like this new (well, it is old now) custom of drinking out of mugs.

A Mug: too big and not fine enough for me.

A Mug: too big and not fine enough for me.

It’s as if drinking your tea in a large mug will save you having to refill your tea perhaps? You know, save you pouring a second cup into dainty little tea cups. But, ‘they’ (and in this post, I will blame the mysterious THEY) didn’t count on the tea becoming cold by the time you get to the bottom of the mug! Something I happen to hate. Cold tea? You never get that in the small tea-cups that I use.

Give me tea served piping hot every time. I love my tea made in a teapot and poured out into a cup most of the time, but in the mornings I do succumb to using a mug for convenience. Am I a snob? I wondered to myself.

My poor husband had no answers for my questions as I issued them non-stop at no one in particular. He does however, share my distaste for large mugs of tea which quickly go cold. On that score we totally agree.

In actual fact, I have a feeling that drinking out of mugs became fashionable when the ‘tea bag’ became popular somewhere in the 1980s. Since then we dangle a tea bag in a cup of hot water for a minute and viola! we have a ‘cup of tea’ … well, it’s a mug of tea actually.

Friends, it does not taste the same I can assure you … and don’t get me started on the difference between using tea bags in teapots instead of loose tea either! Please … we will leave that one well alone. However, I did see an article in a British online newspaper headed “Tea drinking becoming a mug’s game” which was quite upsetting. It said:

“Retailers have warned that the cornerstone of British social manners, the teapot, is dying out. Sales have plummeted as people opt to make tea in their mugs – to the horror of polite society.

Debenhams, which is launching a campaign for “civilised” tea-drinking, said teapot sales had halved in the past five years, while demand for mugs had trebled. Tea served in a teapot and poured into China cups is the traditionally British way, but modern drinkers prefer what the retailer called a “lazier method”.

Ah, this looks good.

Ah, this looks good.

The poor British! They … mostly the ‘fashionably rich’ … have been drinking tea since 1660 so they are appalled. In the 19th century tea drinking really caught on in Britain causing the British to be the largest per capita tea consumer in the world by ALL classes. They must be crying about the demise of the teapot.

And … this is rather interesting. In those days tea WAS  drunk out of a mug but it was commonly known as ‘builders tea.’ In fact, my father who grew up in the East End of London before coming to Australia as a 19-year-old, always took to work an enamel mug  and a flask of hot water with tea leaves. Yes, he was a builder!

So you see, perhaps I am wrong about the humble tea bag causing the entire problem? It turns out that the tea bag was invented in 1908 but did not come to prominence until much later in the century and then it became abused. I think we got lazy as the article above suggests.

However, when Dad was at home, tea was always served in every-day tea cups. Of course, Mum had a collection of fine bone china tea-cups which she kept in a special China Cabinet; she used them whenever guests came to visit.

Perhaps this is where I got my love of drinking tea out of fine china cups? And even today when friends visit, I get the fine china out of the same family China Cabinet that my father built for my mother when they got married.

Violet and me with the China Cabinet that my father built in the back ground

Violet and me with the China Cabinet that my father built, in the back ground

However, as I end this blog post today, I do believe there is hope for the future for tea-cup drinkers. Here in Australia at least, there are speciality Tea Shops opening up selling every kind of loose tea as well as beautiful teapots. And I have friends who regularly have ‘tea parties’ resplendent with all their best china including teapots.

So today folks, I have relegated all my large mugs to the back of the cupboard for my daughter to use when she comes to visit. She LOVES the largest possible mug of tea that you can give her. She actually complained that I did not have big enough mugs … hence the reason I have these large mugs in the first place!

Now my shopping list reads: buy half a dozen small mug-like cups to use with my tea bags when I want convenience. Do you think this should solve my dilemma? I do hope so. How do you like to drink YOUR tea?