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Tips for Collecting Tea Cups as a Hobby

Updated on December 27, 2017

Collecting Tea Cups is fun

Collecting Tea Cups

Collecting tea cups is a delightful hobby. Very few Americans spend time over afternoon tea, yet the world over tea drinking is a ritual that is relished. Afternoon tea is in particular a British tradition and it has caught on in the colonies where the Raj was omnipresent. Tea tastes best in a tea cup and a beautiful cup adds its own dimension to the taste of tea. Many people collect tea cups. This is not a very common hobby, but people who collect tea cups enjoy it very much.

Introduction of Tea in West

Tea is a comparative recent introduction to the west. It made an appearance in England in the 17th century when King Charles married Catherine of Braganza, who was from Portugal. She loved tea and it was introduced in the royal court. The East India Company added an impetus to tea drinking as it colonized India. It could transport hundreds of kilos of tea to the mother country as the tea plant flourished in the hot and humid climate of Assam and Bengal.

Tea drinking is an eastern phenomenon and the origin of tea has been traced to China. Chinese are thus very fond of tea.

Introduction of the Tea Cup

Along with tea, the tea cup also appeared. Initially tea in England was drunk without handles like in China, where tea was drunk from small bowls. By the beginning of the 18th century the handle appeared on the tea cup. By 1810, the tea cup as we see it today came into fashion. Initially the tea cup was an elite preserve, but gradually the common man also began to use tea cups.

Tea cups were made from either Porcelain or Bone China. Tea cups made from Bone China were more durable. A collector of tea cups will have a collection of tea cups made from both Porcelain and Bone China.

Collection of Tea Cups

The collection of tea cups started from the 19th century. One of the more popular gifts was hand painted tea sets. The cups and saucers had beautiful paintings that gave a beautiful and quaint look. These hand painted tea cups are a rarity now and one will be lucky to lay hands on one of them. Most of the hand painted tea cups had images of birds and flowers. These pictures added to the beauty of the tea cup.

When collecting tea cups, the collector must be aware that antiquated tea cups are in great demand and can be costly. While collecting tea cups, it must be borne in mind that in case a matching set is not available, it’s perfectly normal to have a mismatched set. Care should be taken to ensure that the cup fits the saucer. Tea cups of different colours in a set add to the taste of drinking tea.

Buying and Display ofTea Cups

When buying tea cups many connoisseurs will examine price guides and identification books. But keep in mind that the prices quoted are only indicative. Antique tea cups can only be appraised by an expert.

The tea cups when displayed should not be stacked on top of each other. This will not give an aesthetic look. It’s best to hang the cups on a plate hanger or better still to display them in a glass cupboard. While displaying in a cupboard, ensure that no more than two cups are stacked together.

Tea cups generally measure between 2-2 .5 inches in height with a width of 3 to 3.5 inches. Antique tea cups are taller and narrower. These dimensions will help a collector when tea cups are stored.

Care of Tea Cups

Tea cups need to be regularly hand washed, even if not in use. After washing, wipe the tea cups with a soft cloth. Never stack them when wet. It is advisable not to use a dish washer as it will dull the prints on the tea cups.

Collecting tea cups is a colourful hobby and it will add lustre to the living room. It is a good idea to look for tea cups with paintings of flowers and birds, as they make drinking tea more pleasurable.


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    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Thelma. So nice of you to have commented

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      I have some tea cups which look like yours. The one with pink rose. An inheritance from my mother -in-law. They are beautiful. Thanks for sharing this hub.Have a great day!

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you DDE for your comment

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Collecting of teacups sounds a wonderful idea and I would have to look into this to start a new hobby. I haven't seen these kind of cups in ages.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Jolly for commenting

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Interesting information on tea cups. These days one hardly drinks tea i tea cups. Surely miss those times.

      voted up.