Does it really matter what you drink your tea out of?
Yes, it does!
Just like the kettle you use to heat the water and the teapot you use to brew the tea, the shape and size of the cup and the material used to make it all have a major impact on flavor and odor of your tea.
Not only that, they also impact the entire tea ritual.
If you want to host an English style tea party, you’ll want vintage English tea cups. If you want to brew gongfu style, you’ll want the proper tiny Chinese tea bowls characteristic of this style.
Not sure what type of cup you need? Or even what types or styles are available?
That’s where this buyer’s guide comes in. You’ll find it further down below, complete with tips on how to care for your new teacups.
First, I’ve compared the top teacups on the market to help you find the best one for your needs.
Because there are more styles and designs to choose from than ever before, the best tea cup will vary from person to person. Some prefer an Asian style cup and some western style. Some prefer a simple design, while others want something ornate. I’ve tried to include many different styles below, so that you should be able to find the right one for you.
Top Tea Cups Comparison Chart
|BTäT Cups and Saucers Set
|Best western style||8 ounces||Bone china
|Miya Japanese Tea Cups
|Best Japanese||8 ounces||Ceramic||2||$$$|
|Eileen's Reserve Cup Set
|Best bone china||7 ounces||Bone china||4||$$|
|Jusalpha Porcelain Cup Set
|Best single color||7 ounces||Porcelain
|Kendal Porcelain Cup Set
|Best with spoons||8 ounces||Porcelain
|Yan Hou Tang Chinese Tea Bowl
|Best Chinese||1.6 ounces||Ceramic
|Gracie China Tea Cup Set
|Best floral with
fewer cups (4)
|Kitchables Glass Tea Cups
|Best Glass||8 ounces||Glass||4||$$|
Best Tea Cups: Reviews
Now let’s take a closer look at each of the options from the table above. After that, we’ll get to the buyer’s guide.
BTäT Floral Tea Cups And Saucers Set
Our Verdict: Best Western Style
This set by BTaT is made out of bone china and porcelain and consists of six cup settings, complete with cups and saucers. It features a beautiful, vibrant floral pattern that definitely makes it display-worthy.
The manufacturer claims that these cups are dishwasher safe, but if you want to avoid scratches, chips, and cracks, I strongly recommend washing them by hand. They cannot be used in the microwave, because they have a ten-carat gold trim.
- Made from bone china and porcelain
- Ten-carat gold trim
- Beautiful floral pattern
- Can hold up to eight ounces
- Cannot be used in the microwave
- Should be washed by hand to prevent damage
These eight-ounce cups will quickly become your favorite tea setting and will definitely be the focal point of your next afternoon tea. The bone china and porcelain design, combined with the ten-carat gold trim, give these cups a vintage look and the type of elegance that many tea drinkers are looking for.
Miya 8 Oz Green Sasa Japanese Tea Cups
Our Verdict: Best Japanese Style
This is a simple, set of two Japanese style ceramic tea cups. It is also available as a single cup for around half the price of the set of two.
Each cup stands 4 inches tall and has a diameter of 2 and 3/4 inches. They have a green glaze on the outside, with a painted sasa plant design. The interior is white, which allows you to see the color of your tea This is a great feature if you brew the tea directly in your cup.
There are indents around the outside that make it easier to hold. As is common with Japanese style teacups, the interior does take on the color and flavor of tea over time.
Also common is the lack of a handle. This means you may want to wait until it cools before picking it up. This is better anyway, since drinking your tea too hot can have serious negative effects. You can put them in the dishwasher or microwave, though I would avoid doing either.
Avoid the dishwasher for safety and the microwave, because microwaved tea is not great and microwaving heats the cup up even more, meaning you have to wait longer before you can easily pick it up.
- Dishwasher safe
- Microwave safe
- Holds up to eight ounces
- Beautiful design
- White interior so you can see the color of your tea
- Cup can get hot to the touch (which is normal with Asian style teacups)
- Interior will stain with time (this is normal and actually a positive for lovers of Asian teaware)
These beautifully designed Japanese tea cups are the perfect way to enjoy your favorite Japanese green tea, like a wonderful gyokuro or a delightful sencha. They are well-made, just the right size (for Asian sizes, but perhaps not for western-style tea with added milk) and sell for a great price. I actually use a cup that I bought at a market in Kyoto many years ago that looks very similar to this one. Mine cost a lot more, though.
Eileen’s Reserve Tea Cup And Saucer Set
Our Verdict: Best Made Only From Bone China
This vintage-style elegant set by Eileen’s Reserve include four cups and four saucers. The manufacturer claims that a durable design prevents the cups from chipping, even in the dishwasher. I would not trust this completely. Since they’re made out of bone china, I recommend washing them by hand and allowing them to air dry on a rack.
The classic floral design features bold colors that will stand out at your next afternoon tea. The cups can hold up to seven ounces of tea, and feature a thin, delicate cup and handle design that’s very reminiscent of the antique cups grandma used.
- Dishwasher safe
- Made out of bone china
- Low price
- Only includes four settings
- Should be washed by hand
- Holds only seven ounces of liquid
These floral cups are elegant and perfect for an afternoon tea party. The durable design gives tea drinkers every reason to buy, but since they’re made out of bone china, they should be washed by hand and stored appropriately. These cups are slightly smaller than the average and can only hold up to seven ounces of liquid.
Jusalpha Porcelain Tea Cup And Saucer Set (4 Color Options)
Our Verdict: Best In A Single Color (No Designs On Outside)
This set of six cups and saucers by Jusalpha is made out of porcelain and features a delicate gold trim. The exterior of the cups is a high gloss light pink (with purple, yellow and blue also available), while the interior is white and features a single delicate rosebud.
The cups are one hundred percent lead-free and are dishwasher safe, but not microwave safe (due to the gold trim). I would recommend not putting them in the dishwasher though, just to be extra careful.
This is the tea set you’ve been looking for if you’ve been searching for the ultimate pastel, antique-inspired set for a party or your next big tea hosting event. Each cup can hold up to seven ounces of liquid, which is slightly less than an average cup.
- Made out of porcelain
- Beautiful pale pink (or purple, blue or yellow) and gold exterior
- Low price
- Set of six
- Should be washed by hand to prevent chipping and cracks
- Each cup only holds seven ounces of liquid
This lovely cup and saucer set can serve up to six guests and it’s available at a reasonable price, so you can order two sets if you’re planning on hosting afternoon tea or an upcoming party. The design is very reminiscent of French antique cups and features the type of feminine elegance that many cup collectors love.
Kendal Porcelain Tea Cup Set With Saucers And Spoons (3 Design Options)
Our Verdict: Best With Spoons
This latest set by Kendal features a total of four cups, saucers, and spoons, made out of high-quality porcelain. They are non-porous, so they will not take on the color and odor of your teas.
The cups can hold up to eight ounces of liquid each and feature floral designs You have a choice of three different ones. The design pictured above in gold, plus two pink floral designs with gold trim: one simple and one a bit more complex.
All are hand-painted, which makes them very delicate and not appropriate for the dishwasher, although the manufacturer does claim that the cups are dishwasher safe. I wouldn’t risk it, especially since it’s pretty quick and easy to clean them by hand. Additionally, the cups are not microwave safe due to the gold trim and they should be stored carefully in order to avoid scratching the delicate finish.
- Can hold up to eight ounces of liquid
- Comes with four spoons and saucers
- Low price
- Cannot be used in the microwave
- Must be stored carefully to prevent scratching the delicate surface
This cup and saucer set is perfect for a casual cup of tea with the family, or you can use them for your next afternoon tea with friends. The delicate hand-painted designs are very elegant and will require some extra TLC on your part to prevent scratches, chips, and cracks.
Yan Hou Tang Chinese JianZhan Tea Bowl (5 Different Designs For Each Of The 5 Chinese Elements)
Our Verdict: Best Chinese Style
These JianZhan (aka Tenmoku or Tianmu) Royal Sole tea bowls from Yan Hou Tang come in 5 different colors and designs, one for each of the 5 Chinese elements. The blue indigo bowl pictured above is water. There is also a rose gold one for fire, a dark brown one for earth, a black gray one for metal and a red brown one for wood.
It is important to note that, as Chinese style cups,these are much smaller than western-sized ones. Each cup only holds 45 ml, which is around 1.6 ounces. You also need to be ware that you only get one of these bowls with your purchase, not all 5 elements.
But what you do get is a stunningly beautiful tea bowl in a gorgeous gift box. It is a cup that will chage color as you continue to use it, because it is designed to take on the color an essence of the tea you put in it. This is a unique characteristic of Chinese style tea bowls and you do not want to wash them with soap, because of it. Just wipe clean with a cloth.
- 5 beautifulk designs
- Will change color with prolonged use
- No need to wash; just wipe clean with a cloth
- Stays cool enough to touch, even with hot tea inside
- May be too small for western tastes
- Should not be put in a dishwasher or microwave
All 5 elements are equally beautiful. Whichever one you choose (or if you choose all 5), make sure you know what you are getting. These are not standard tea cups from which to a a cup of morning tea. They are far too small for that.
These are works of art and tea cups for drinking Chinese gongfu style. This means small cups that are slightly larger than a shot, and pouring several from a similarly small teapot. You are often served tea in this manner when entering a traditional Chinese shop. Tea shops in particular, so that you can sample the tea, but many other types of shops as well. I remember getting tea like that when I took my laptop in to get the fan replaced in a computer store in Shenzhen.
Coastline Imports Gracie China 33708B Tea Cup And Saucer Set
Our Verdict: Best Western Type With Floral Designs And Fewer Cups (4 Instead of 6)
This floral set consists of four cups and saucers and includes an assortment of the popular rose chintz pattern style. Each cup may have a different rose chintz floral pattern, but each one does feature the same delicate gold trim and can hold up to eight ounces of liquid. The cups and saucers are made out of fine porcelain and should be washed by hand and stored carefully.
- Mix and match rose chintz pattern
- Gold trim
- Made out of fine porcelain
- Low price
- Set of four
- Not microwave or dishwasher-safe
- Each cup has a different rose chintz pattern
If you’re looking for a matching set of cups and saucers, then the fact that each cup features a different type of rose chintz pattern may be a deal-breaker for you. However, tea drinkers who are looking for a unique cup and saucer set will love this mix and match set by Coastline Imports.
Kitchables Double Wall Thermal Insulated Glass Tea Cups
Our Verdict: Best Made From Glass
These glass tea cups by Kitchables are double walled, for thermal insulation. Your hot drink stays hot longer and the cups do not get too hot to the touch. Not that it matters, since they have handles anyway.
The borosilicate glass is scratch-resistant and shatter-proof. You can put these glasses in the microwave or the dishwasher, making them easy to clean. Each glass holds 8 ounces, which is 236 ml. Kitchables also give you a lifetime guarantee and have a generous return policy.
- Dishwasher safe
- Scratch-resistant and shatterproof
- Microwave safe
- Double wall design keeps drinks hot and fingers cool
- Plain design; not as beautiful as other options
- Water can get inside the double wall
This set of four glasses does not feature any hand painted design like the other options on this list, but the double wall design insulates your drink better and they are more resistant to scratches and shattering. If you’re not looking for a vintage or traditional cup, these Kitchables are a great option.
Tea Cup Buyer’s Guide
You’re already aware of the benefits of drinking tea, how long to steep it for, and what type of tea is loaded with the nutrients you need to power you through the day, but did you know that your teaware can also impact the quality of your favorite hot beverage?
When it comes to cups, there’s no shortage of sizes and styles to choose from, whether you prefer a more classic look or a modern design. But a good cup isn’t only about aesthetics. Did you know that the quality of the cup can actually have an impact on the tea itself?
There are some factors you’ll want to take into consideration before you hit the buy now button. This includes the type of material used, the construction, and the design.
Considering there are so many styles to choose from, you want to take the same type of care in choosing the cups for serving your tea as you do in choosing the tea itself. You want to make sure the cups do not have negative impact on the aroma, temperature, and taste of your tea. Here are the most important factors to consider.
Porous Versus Non-Porous
This is an important characteristic to pay attention to. Material that’s porous possesses microscopic cracks and holes that can hang onto flavors.
Asian style cups are often made from porous materials. These cups end up changing color from the tea after repeated use and they also take on the flavor of the tea. This is a prized characteristic in Asia, but not everyone wants this in the west. For that reason, most western style cups are non-porous.
If you plan on drinking many kinds of drinks from your cup, you definitely do not want a porous material. Porous cups should also not be cleaned with soap, since they can absorb some of the soapy flavor into the material. Just wipe them clean with a cloth.
Another interesting fact concerns the cup’s design itself. Did you know the cup’s shape can affect how quickly your drink cools down?
Cups that feature a wider rim cool down faster. Cups that are narrow and tall work to keep your tea hotter for longer. As you probably already know, tea that remains hotter for longer offers a fragrance that’s more concentrated. But if you tea stays hotter longer, it also takes longer to reach a drinkable temperature.
Thickness also has an effect. Thinner cups cool down quicker, while thicker ones keep your drink warm longer. Double walled designs further insulate your drink and keep it hot longer.
Physics also plays a role in the design and construction of tea cups. For example, a thin lip is ideal because it delivers the tea into your mouth more directly and easily, so as to maximize the flavor. Thinner lips allow the drink to gently roll off the cup’s edge directly onto your tongue.
Now, we’ll move onto the type of materials available. Like the shape of the cup, the type of material the cup is made out of can also have an impact on the quality, flavor, and aroma of your tea. So choose carefully.
Remember, materials that are porous hang onto old flavors, which can alter your tea’s flavor and odor over time. Many people consider this a great thing, but if you do not want it, make sure to choose a non-porous material. Below, are the different material options to help you narrow down the type that will work best for your tea drinking needs.
One of the most common materials to use for these cups is ceramic. The term itself is used to describe a cup that’s made from clay pottery then processed in a kiln. This means a cup that’s made of out terracotta, porcelain, and stoneware can also be categorized as ceramic.
The ability to retain heat for a longer period of time is one of the reasons they are so popular. Ceramic is able to hang onto heat efficiently because of the type of heat-resistant material it’s made out of. Firing materials in a kiln can also remove certain tastes from the material such as a metallic taste. Ceramic cups are generally porous, unless a non-porous glaze is applied, in which case they are generally referred to as porcelain.
Porcelain is another great choice and it been used for hundreds of years. Porcelain is also often categorized as a ceramic, but it is generally processed differently to make it non-porous. This means the cups should have a type of vitrified outer glazed shell. This material is made out of kaolin clay that’s combined with other types of ingredients.
Bone china consists of clay mixed with bone ash, which is what makes this type of material non-porous and non-reactive. The smoothness of bone china prevents the tannins in tea from sticking to the sides of the cup, so it will not become stained or retain and flavor or aroma from previous uses.
Glass is another great material to use for production. Vitrified glass is non-reactive. Borosilicate glass is very durable and much less fragile than porcelain or bone china. Many glass cups have a double-walled design. The gap between the outer and inner glass contains air that works as an insulating layer. The outer wall remains cool, while the inner wall keeps your tea nice and hot.
While cups made out of steel can easily outlast any other type, they do have some serious issues. First off, because of the steel’s ability to conduct heat, the cups and even the handles tend to run hot. Additionally, if the steel is scratched, it can leach nickel and iron into your tea.
There is one design feature that is more noticeable at first glance than any other:handle or no handle.
Cups that don’t have a handle are referred to as tea bowls. This style is big in Asian culture and they’re usually much smaller than western-style cups with handles. Tea bowls are made out of a variety of materials including wood or iron. They also possess unique shapes ranging from round to square.
When it comes to cups with handles, the design of the handle can vary greatly from model to model. You’ll come across some pretty basic designs and also much more ornate designs. Cups that are designed for a formal tea often have more ornate handles and designs.
Tea cups have been collected and displayed since the early nineteenth century. Back then, they were very popular gifts and often featured beautiful hand-painted designs. If you’ve decided to start your own collection, there’s really no right or wrong way of going about it. If you plan on using yours from drinking, you want one that will not impact the quality of your tea. For collecting only, that doesn’t really matter.
One of the best things about these cups is that you don’t have to have a full set to serve your favorite hot beverage. In fact, some people collect these cups not in sets, but individually, in order to find unique cups to create an eclectic set that can truly showcase their style.
But if you want to purchase a full set of matching cups, then you’ll find that there’s no shortage of designs, styles, and types to choose from. A full western-style set usually comes with matching saucers, and perhaps spoons. Asian style sets never include saucers.
Basic Tea Cup Care
Many modern cups are labeled as dishwasher safe, but putting a cup in the dishwasher is not usually a great idea. They’re easy to clean, so there’s no real need, and every time you do it, you risk damage.
As mentioned, even if the manufacturer has labeled the cups as dishwasher safe, don’t do it. Washing your cups by hand extends their life. Additionally, if you’ve purchased a set that has a metal or gold trim, or a cup that’s made out of bone china, they should never be placed in the microwave either.
To wash your cup by hand, use a soft cloth and warm soapy water. Use a gentle cleanser and avoid abrasive cleaners at all costs. If you have a cup made from porous material, don’t use any type of soap or cleaner at all, since the soap will seep into the cup. Simply wipe the inside clean using a cloth.
Tea cups should be washed separately from other dishes. Avoid crowding the sink with several cups since you’ll risk the cups banging into each other, which can lead to chips, scratches, and cracks.
When you’re washing the cups, make sure you allow them to completely cool down before placing them in the water. Aside from avoiding harsh and abrasive cleaners, you also want to avoid using abrasive sponges. The cups should be completely dry before being placed in the cupboard. You can place them on a drying rack and allow them to air dry.
If you’ve purchased a set that’s made out of porcelain, you’ll want to wash them in warm salt water before using them for the first time. That said, it’s always a good idea to wash your cups before you use them for the first time, regardless of what type of material they’re made out of. But with porcelain, you want to add salt to the warm water in order to extend the cup’s life.
Aside from how the cups are washed, how they’re stored is also important. If you’re short on cupboard space then you may be tempted to stack your cups to conserve space. You’d do best to avoid this, in order to keep from damaging your cup collection.
As a general rule, you should never stack more than two cups together. Even when cups are stacked in this manner, you should still use a piece of tissue placed between the two cups to provide much-needed protection against scratches and chipping.
The cups should be stored somewhere safe, away from the dishes you use every day. They should be stored away from dust, commonly used dishware, and away from other items that may accidentally damage them.
Best Teacups: Final Thoughts
The best tea cups are made out of materials that won’t have a negative impact on the flavor, aroma, and temperature of your tea. But they should also possess a unique design that matches your style.
If you’re looking for cups that suit your tea drinking needs and a set that’s display-worthy, then I’m confident you’ll find the perfect among the options above. I hope the buyer’s guide has helped you pinpoint what type and style of cups you need and that you find and a set that’s unique, stylish, durable, and one that won’t hit your wallet too hard.