Getting to Know Your Tea Cup
How to Care For Your Tea Treasures
All tea cups are beautiful and have their own stories behind them. Whether you are a collector or a tea lover, learning about anything tea-related can be fun! However, sometimes things can get confusing when you see words such as "vintage, porcelain, bone china, and fine bone china." Please know that I am not an expert in the production of tea cups but this is what I have found through my online research:
VINTAGE: Refers to an item that is decades old but not antique.
ANTIQUE: An object that is 100 years old or older.
CHINTZ: An all-over floral pattern.
PORCELAIN: We get porcelain as a result of heating ceramic materials at high temperatures. These materials can be molded into various shapes creating beautifully shaped tea cups. The finish of the vessel is harder than bone china but can also be more brittle due to its hotter firing temperatures. This ceramic process results in thicker and heavier tea cups.
BONE & FINE BONE CHINA: Bone china has an interesting history. In 1748, a London man named Thomas Frye began using bone ash from cattle as an ingredient to his porcelain work. He used up to 45% bone ash and produced items of excellent quality. It was not, however, a great success in his business. Years later, Joseph Spode developed a formula with the bone ash that became extremely successful. The higher amount of ash makes the finished cup more chip resistant. The materials and process to make fine bone china are expensive which explains the higher cost of the cup. Bone ash enhances the china by its ivory white appearance. It's also lighter and feels more delicate than porcelain cups. A test to see if your cup is actually bone china is to hold your china up to the light. You should be able to see the light through the china. As far as I can find out, there is no difference between bone china and fine bone china.
DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO MY TEA?
No! Whether you are drinking your tea from a porcelain cup or bone china makes no difference to the flavor of your tea. Neither does it affect how the cup holds the heat. It truly comes down to your personal preference. I use porcelain for daily tea and use my bone china when I want to make a regular moment more special! I wholeheartedly agree with The Tea House Times when they said, "The finest china is bone china with its translucency and a distinct chime unequaled by any other pottery."
CARING FOR YOUR TEA CUP:
Even though some china is considered dishwasher/microwave safe, I recommend that you never put your beautiful tea cup in them because the soap may cause damage to the cup over time. They also may be bounced around and cause cracks or chips. If your cup has gold trim it may become damaged in the microwave. Hand washing your cups in hot water with mild soap is recommended.
FOR STAIN REMOVAL:
Combine 1 gallon of warm/hot water with 1/4 cup baking soda. Fill the tea cup(or teapot) with the water and let it soak for one hour. Do not immerse the cup in dishwater. If it is not clean enough for you then add a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice then rub the inside of the cup with your fingers. Rinse with cool water and let it air dry.