Turmeric Tea

February 8th, 2011

While this is departing a little from the more traditional teas that I have been writing about, I am going to continue with another herbal tea; only this time it is turmeric tea. Turmeric is used in many dishes–it is a mainstay of many Indian curries for example–and it is also used in commercial preparations of mustard. However, its use is not as widespread as other spices or herbs; in fact Americans do not generally use it when preparing their foods very much at all. It is a shame, really, as recent studies have shown that it does have some rather spectacular benefits.

For example, did you know that elderly people in India have a far less chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease? This is attributed to the fact that one of the active ingredients in turmeric is curcumin, something that is supposed to be beneficial for many different maladies. In fact, the branch of Indian Ayurvedic medicine has long used turmeric in curing various diseases and illnesses. In light of this, clinical trials on humans have been conducted and though it should not be a surprise, they have revealed that there is a reason they are considered an important ingredient in Ayuryedic medicines. These studies showed that it may well be beneficial in treating people suffering not only from Alzheimer’s disease but also that it has antioxidant properties, anti tumor properties, and anti inflammatory properties. It is also possible that it has anti-depressive benefits as well as helping to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Of course, in order to benefit from turmeric one would have to consume it on a fairly regular basis. Not everyone loves a good, rich yellow curry and there is really a limit as to how much commercially prepared mustard one can eat on a regular basis. So, how can you adapt so that you can include this very healthy spice into your daily diet? As you may be aware, people living in Okinawa, Japan have been found to have the longest average life-span when compared to people from other countries and areas. Guess what is different about people in Okinawa? Probably quite a few things, however one interesting fact is that they drink a lot of turmeric tea Okinawa style. Some prepare it using fresh turmeric while others simply buy prepared turmeric tea powder from their local tea store. In this way, they are able to take in a large amount of curcumin on a daily basis, complete with its antioxidants which are well known for the part they play in slowing down aging. You can experience the same turmeric tea benefits as well fairly easily.

Preparing Turmeric Tea From Fresh Turmeric
This is probably the simplest turmeric tea recipe. All you need do is take a teaspoon of ground turmeric–just as you buy it from the spice section of your local supermarket–and add it to three cups of water. Let it simmer gently for around ten minutes then take it off the heat. Strain the liquid through a very fine strainer so you remove all of the powder from the tea, and enjoy your drink. You may want to add some honey or maple syrup to sweeten it, along with a dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Alternatively, other people like to add a little grated or powdered ginger to the mix while it is simmering. It can also be prepared using milk instead of water–though be careful not to boil the milk, just let it gradually heat up, till it is hot but not boiling.

There are quite a few other variations on recipes for preparing it so you can get the most benefits of turmeric tea. You can find quite a few suggestions for preparing it online; though basically you can prepare it in a number of different ways depending on your particular preferences.

Where to Buy Turmeric Tea
Obviously, if you are taking a trip to Okinawa you should be able to fairly easily pick up some tea there. But it can be a little difficult to locate good quality turmeric tea products online and at health stores. You do have to be careful, as some that is sold as ‘tea’ is merely repackaged turmeric which you could probably buy for a lot less money at your supermarket. If you cannot find any actual tea products you may want to look into buying turmeric or curcumin capsules instead. These are also helpful if you do not care for the taste of turmeric yet want to benefit from taking it. I was able to locate some turmeric tea bags, Yogi Joint Comfort, Herbal Tea Supplement, 16-Count Tea Bags (Pack of 6) online, as well as some Jarrow Formulas Curcumin 95, 500mg, 120 Capsules and Botanic Choice Turmeric, 500 mg, 90 Capsules (Pack of 5) all of which seem to be great products for those who do not wish to go to all the trouble of brewing up a cup of turmeric tea.

My Recommendation
In summary, I would recommend that you try to buy some organic turmeric, such as this Simply Organic Turmeric Root Ground Certified Organic, 0.53-Ounce Containers (Pack of 6) and make your own tea. You should be able to find a way to prepare it that is palatable and even enjoyable, by experimenting with some of the different recipes you can find online.

Alternatively, if you really cannot stomach the thought of drinking turmeric tea, you may want to look for some supplements that contain this ingredient. It has been well researched, and well documented that many of the claims made regarding the benefits of drinking turmeric tea (or taking turmeric supplements) are validated and well worth considering.

Simply Organic Turmeric Root Ground Certified Organic, 0.53-Ounce Containers (Pack of 6) Yogi Joint Comfort, Herbal Tea Supplement, 16-Count Tea Bags (Pack of 6)
Jarrow Formulas Curcumin 95, 500mg, 120 Capsules Botanic Choice Turmeric, 500 mg, 90 Capsules (Pack of 5)

Side Effects
As with any herbal or natural remedy, it is important to exercise caution regarding the amount of tea you drink. Some people have experienced nausea or diarrhea when drinking it. If you have circulatory system problems you may also want to be cautious with your intake and check with your doctor beforehand–it may increase the risk of bleeding, and it has been known to lower blood pressure too. Pregnant women are generally not encouraged to drink it either as it may stimulate the uterus. Finally, it apparently can cause your gall bladder to constrict; something which would end up being very painful if you have gallstones.

Don’t forget the other herbal teas either. When it comes to health benefits chamomile tea also has a lot to offer, as do many other different types of herbal teas. Hopefully I can highlight some others on site from time to time.

Chamomile Tea Benefits

February 5th, 2011

Probably everyone has heard about Chamomile tea. It is well known for being beneficial to drink before bed as it will help promote better sleep at night. However, there are many other uses for the different types of chamomile teas as well, some of which may be less well known than others.

About Chamomile
First of all though, here are some facts about the Chamomile flower that is mainly used for brewing this fine cup of tea.
There are two main types of Chamomile grown to use as herbal aids; German Chamomile and Roman Chamomile. Both are relatively easy to grow, though most tea that you buy is made from the German Chamomile. The German variety needs to be replanted each year, however Roman Chamomile is a perennial. The jury is still out regarding which type of flower is the most beneficial; however the general consensus seems to be that they are both great to use. If you would like to grow your own, and have it on hand when needed you may want to opt for the Roman variety as that way you will not have to worry about replanting it.

Harvesting the Flowers

Photo By: Toshiyuki IMAI

It is very simple to harvest the flowers. All you need to do is clip them off the plant once they are in full bloom. You do not needs to do anything with the flowers, such as dry them, if you do not wish to—the flowers can be used fresh, just as they are snipped off the plant, and you will receive a full benefit from the tea.

Making Chamomile Tea
If you are using fresh flowers, you should use a ratio of one cup of flower heads to a pint of water. If you are using dried flowers, two tablespoons in a cup of boiling water is sufficient. Of course, you can also use a tea infuser to brew a cup of Chamomile tea with as well. All you need do is open up the infuser and place the dried flowers inside, then close it back up again and let it steep in a cup of boiling water.

Benefits of Drinking This Tea
Sedative Properties: Studies have proved that Chamomile does indeed have sedative properties. Therefore it is great to use to help calm nerves and to promote a good night’s sleep. Simply brew up and drink one cup at night before heading off to bed and enjoy the Camomile tea benefits!

When it comes to other benefits Chamomile tea is also useful for anyone who is suffering with any stomach ailments, including an upset stomach or irritable bowel syndrome. It is often mixed with peppermint when being used for medicinal purposes in this way.

Antibacterial Properties: It has also been proved to have good antibacterial, anti-fungal and and anti-viral qualities as well. So, if you have a sore throat, or sores in your mouth you may find using it as a mouthwash is both refreshing, soothing and it will help you to heal faster. You will also find creams made with Chamomile oil. It can also be used externally as a poultice for any skin disorders or infections. However, if making it for external use the tea should be a lot at least three times as strong as if you were making it to drink.

How Much Should You Drink?
It is recommended that adults drink no more than two or three cups of tea a day. Children younger than five should be limited to only half a cup a day, if necessary to calm an upset stomach for example. Those between the ages of five years old and eighteen should limit themselves to one cup of tea per day.

Unlike green tea or wulong tea, or regular black tea, it is possible to overdose with this particular tea, so be careful. If used judiciously and wisely it can provide real health benefits but, just as with regular medication, if used in excess it can cause problems.

Side Effects-Chamomile Tea and Pregnancy, Other Precautions
It also has some known side-effects; again the need for caution when treating yourself with this tea. If you are allergic to daisies, ragweed, asters, chrysanthemums, or marigolds you should not drink the tea as you may have a severe allergic reaction to the tea. As far as drinking camomile tea pregnancy effects, pregnant women, anyone taking blood thinning medication or anyone with a blood related disorder should not drink this tea either. If you take birth control pills, or any other regular medication you will want to confirm with your doctor that it is safe for you to drink Chamomile tea before you go ahead and do so as it can react with quite a few different medications.

Buying The Tea
It is carried by many different health stores as well as tea distributors making it fairly easy to discover the benefits of chamomile tea. If you are no so keen about drinking tea made from the flowers you can also find it available in powdered form in many places. It is relatively easy to buy tea online. It is also very easy to grow your own chamomile—it is said to help your other plants be more healthy and strong too!

You can find it as loose tea or in tea bags. I would highly recommend, if you intend purchasing some, to look for the organic variety as you can be sure that it is free of pesticides and other dangerous substances. Here are some of my favorite teas, including the Choice Organic Chamomile Herb Tea, 16-Count Box (Pack of 6) and the Octavia Tea Calming Chamomile (Organic, Caffeine-Free Herbal Tea), Loose Tea, 0.92-Ounce Tins (Pack of 2). If you use K-cups, you can also find Bigelow Cozy Chamomile Herbal Tea, 12-Count K-Cups for Keurig Brewers (Pack of 3). As you see, there is something for everyone!

Bigelow Cozy Chamomile Herbal Tea, 12-Count K-Cups for Keurig Brewers (Pack of 3)
Choice Organic Chamomile Herb Tea, 16-Count Box (Pack of 6)
Octavia Tea Calming Chamomile (Organic, Caffeine-Free Herbal Tea), Loose Tea, 0.92-Ounce Tins (Pack of 2)

How to Drink Green Tea Like a Japanese–Drinking Tea With a Difference

January 25th, 2011

In the western world and America especially, seemingly ordinary things get cloaked in an air of mystery; the mundane becomes an enormous mountain to overcome. Take bicycle commuting for example. You’ll find forum after forum and site after site, discussing the intricacies of what type of bicycle to use, the best clothing, how to lock your bike up, what to do if it rains, should you cycle in the snow and on and on. The result is that a childhood method of transportation has been transformed into a grandiose event and in this same vein, so has Japanese green tea risen to mythical status. I mean you’d almost have to be blind to not see some of the claims being made about this beverage, everything from green tea for weight loss to green tea killing cancer. Whether the claims are true, is not what is being sought here though.

Photo By: JoshBerglund

But did you ever stop and think, how do Japanese people really drink green tea? I mean on a day to day basis because, while it is true, there are customs and ceremonies for drinking tea, as well as special preparations that have to be made, if we stick to those adherents, then green tea becomes restrictive and unenjoyable—kinda like having to use a $3000 espresso machine to make a cup of joe in the morning. Well it’s the, “everyday,” green tea, that this article is about.

The Tea
The most common tea drunk in Japan is called sencha, which is produced from tea plants exposed to full sunlight. Usually, this tea will be in loose form, meaning you’ll need a tea pot to brew it and that’s just how most Japanese people drink it. Sencha is also commonly available in tea bags, which are also widely accepted. There are other Japanese tea drinks, however. Another common tea is called mugicha. Mugicha isn’t really a tea, since it’s made from barley, but it is a popular brewed, tea-like (Japanese people don’t really differentiate) drink, especially during the summer months and enjoyed on ice. Finally, one other really common tea, you’ll see is genmaicha, which is sencha with roasted brown rice added. These are the different green tea drink that you will find in Japan.

The Equipment
If you’re going to drink green tea from tea bags, you won’t need anything other than the tea bags themselves. You’ll find tea that is meant to be served cold, sencha and mugicha, in convenient large-sized bags that make enough tea for a pitcher full.

If you’re going to be using loose-leaf tea, you’ll need a special tea pot called a kyushu. These are usually made out of ceramic and have a large side handle (yokode kyushu), a lid and a mesh screen inside the pot to prevent teas leaves from getting into the tea. Thin-walled tea cups are optional.

The Process
This is where everyday practicality and oriental romanticism start to diverge. By that, I mean I have never seen a Japanese person, go through a process for preparing green tea, like what I’ve seen on a lot of websites. The usual process when they want to drink tea goes something like this:

  1. Pour some green tea leaves into the tea pot using the pre-measured scoop included with the tea.
  2. Pour boiling water (usually from an electric kettle) on the tea.
  3. Serve.

That’s it, simple instructions on how to drink tea. No heating pots and bowls or temperature checking or timing, just add hot water and serve. I will add though, that if you’re serving tea for more than two people, you don’t fill one glass completely before filling the next but rather fill one cup partially, then the next partially and so on. Oh and don’t forget to keep your hand on the tea pot lid while serving, otherwise, it’ll fall off.

The purpose of this article wasn’t to belittle the importance of the Japanese tea ceremony or any Japanese custom for that matter. Nor am I suggesting that green tea doesn’t have a legitimate place among other exalted beverages like coffee, other teas, wine or beer. The purpose here was to give you a glimpse into how Japanese people enjoy tea on a daily basis because there truly is a parallel between the Japanese and their green tea and you and your daily cup of Joe.

Tea is a High Living Delight

January 24th, 2011

Perhaps tea was always destined to be today’s perfect way of coping with the current high cost of living. As a beverage, tea has so much going for it.

  • It’s economical. At a cost of mere pennies a cup, what a splendid alternative to those more expensive packaged and manufactured drinks.
  • It’s convenient. No need to lug huge jugs or cartons home from the store. Tea tins, packs, and canisters are small and convenient to purchase.
  • It’s flexible. This little taste of heaven can be consumed warm, cold, or at room temperature according to your preferences.
  • It’s tasty. If you favor it sweet, use your preferred honey, sugar, or artificial sweetener. Want a little tartness? Add a slice of aromatic lemon.
  • It’s subtle. Each variety of tea has its own unique quiet charm. Getting to know the many flavors of tea is one of life’s most exciting armchair adventures.
  • It is responsive to your preferences. Tea allows you to make it weak or strong, steeped or boiled. Whether you like it light straw amber color or prefer it as dark as molasses, it’s just a matter of how much time you leave the tea bag infusing and being hydrated in water.

    Photo By: Chris Makarsky

  • It’s friendly. When your neighbor from downstairs pops in, offering her a cup of tea shows hospitality. We appreciate tea as the perfect conversation beverage to accompany little chats about all matters great and small.
  • It’s genteel. Teapots are items of beauty and aesthetic wonder. Having a classic afternoon tea time break during the day allows us focus on the lost art of etiquette and the beauty of the serving pieces and cups. Even casual tea mugs gain special stature in our hearts because only they are the ones chosen to hold this favorite beverage.
  • It’s liquid joy. A simple pleasure.
  • It’s romantic. With a cup of tea in hand, all is right in the universe. We are able to see the gentle glory of life. One is not often in a negative mood drinking tea.
  • It’s a royal moment. Back in the day, tea merchants like the Dutch East India Company, imported tea only for kings and queens, for the wealthy and the famous. Now it is accessible for enjoyment by all who purchase it, and still retains noble character and special uniqueness.

Enjoying one or more tea moments each day is the way to relax and appreciate the world around you. Whether you opt for Darjeeling or yorkshire gold tea, or any other favorites remember to relax and savor the moment!

Green Tea Benefits Heart Health

January 21st, 2011

One of the great things about green tea is that there is no dispute that it is good for you. There has been so much research studying green tea that there is no doubt that the abundance of antioxidants found in this healthy beverage promote a whole range of natural benefits. There are now literally 100’s of papers published that support the health benefits of green tea, and heart health is one of these fundamental benefits.

The results of large-scale studies clearly show that those who drink green tea daily are considerably less likely to develop heart disease and all of its symptoms than those who do not drink green tea, or drink it infrequently. The results of one such study, conducted by Y. Mineharu, was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Y. Mineharu and colleagues studied the drinking habits of over 70,000 people in an effort to find a correlation between drinking caffeine-based beverages and heart disease. They discovered that men who drink green teas and oolong teas daily were 38% less likely to die of heart disease, and women were 22% less likely.

Photo By: Shirokazan

Researchers state that it is the antioxidants in green tea called polyphenols that produce the heart healthy benefits of this drink. Polyphenols help protect LDL cholesterol in our blood stream from oxidative damage, and this is important for the health of the main arteries leading to the heart. Once LDL cholesterol falls victim to oxidative damage it binds to the artery wall, and as this process continues the LDL cholesterol builds into a plaque. This plaque is arteriosclerosis, a health condition that is the #1 cause of heart disease!

Plaque in the arteries decreases the amount of room for blood flow, reducing the amount of blood that moves through the heart, if it gets bad enough a heart attack will result. Limited blood flow also increases blood pressure levels because the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body. In addition to this, plaque build-ups also harden the arteries, taking away their elasticity and natural ability to expand and contract. When this elasticity is compromised, blood pressure level rise significantly.

So it is then no surprise then that many studies show that drinking green tea helps lower high blood pressure, slows down or even reverses arteriosclerosis and lowers high blood cholesterol levels. Based on the results of these health tea studies, it is recommend to drink 2 or 3 cups daily for the best green tea benefits for the heart.

Health Benefits Plus Weight Loss Green Tea

January 14th, 2011

Many of us are now aware of the health benefits of green tea; the health promoting properties of this beverage have been making headline news consistently for the past 5 years. Drinking green tea really does help to ward of cancers and heart disease, but the benefit that really catches people’s attention is green tea and weight loss.

Green Tea and Weight Loss
There are now many studies that show that drinking green tea genuinely does help with weight loss because it contain antioxidants called polyphenols that dissolve fat in the blood before it gets a chance to deposit on our bodies. These polyphenol antioxidants also increase our metabolic rate so that we burn up extra calories each day. However, these weight loss effects are very slow if consuming green tea is not combined with a moderate exercise plan and/or sensible eating plan, but it still works. Combined with healthy eating and exercise, the weight loss benefits of green tea are increased. So it is important to note when discussing green tea weight loss that drinking green tea is not a miracle weight loss cure, but it really is a useful aid.

Photo By: Dan McKay

One study In Japan that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1999, found that volunteers who were put on an exercise plan that included 3 x 30 minutes of cardio sessions each week (for 12 weeks) and given 690mg of green tea antioxidants daily lost considerably more weight (especially belly fat) than those who just did the exercise! Another related study found that drinking green tea helped increase the amount of time people could exercise for before fatiguing, therefore helping them to burn more calories while working out. Researchers believe that the metabolism boosting effects are what increases this exercise endurance.

Green Tea and Appetite
Another key green tea and weight loss benefit is a result of this beverages effect upon our appetite. It contains plant chemicals that inhibit some of our carbohydrate digestive enzymes, therefore slowing the rate at which we digest carbohydrates (especially complex carbohydrates). This helps us feel fuller for longer and it also helps to keep our blood sugar levels stable. Stable blood sugar keeps the brain working properly which helps us maintain our focus, concentration and will power during our weight loss efforts. If blood sugar levels spike and dip it affects our brain chemistry and signals to the body that it needs to eat more sugar to deal with the blood sugar level dips! To me and you that translates as a hunger pang that looks for sugary snacks!

If you are looking at different weight loss teas and trying to decide if one weight loss tea is better than another, you may want to first of all consider green tea plus exercise and a healthy diet. The green tea health benefits alone are tremendous but of all the green tea benefits weight loss seems to be one of the most desired plus there are very few calories in a cup of tea made from green tea leaves.

Cups, Saucers and Basic Table Décor

October 17th, 2010

Not everyone not everyone grabs a matching cup and saucer when they want to have a cup of tea. In fact many people seem to enjoy drinking tea from a mug instead. I can understand that, as you can certainly get a lot more tea into a mug than into a regular sized teacup. However, it is nice upon occasion to set out matching cups and saucers, especially if you are entertaining guests or even if you feel like treating yourself to a special afternoon tea.

While it may be surprising to some people, you do need to get some thought and attention to the types of cups, saucers and other tea accessories you use. Clearly, you should never use saucers that do not match the cup that is sitting on them–for example a gold tea cup on a blue saucer–unless it is really a set! While that may seem a little ludicrous to some people I have actually seen it happen. However there is more to basic table décor than merely using matching cups and saucers or in the placement of the cup saucer and other tea ware.

For example, you may need to pay particular attention to what is on your crockery sets. If, for example, you have beautiful, floral cups and saucers you may want to avoid laying down any floral tablecloth as the whole table can look simply far too busy. If you do have a floral or a patterned tablecloth it is far better to use plain colored cups and saucers, preferably trying to match the color of the cup and saucer with one of the colors present on the tablecloth. Choosing a cups and saucers carefully and matching them with your other dining ware and your table setting can really be quite a lot of fun, sometimes challenging but always very effective. There are times when you could use patterned cups and saucers and a patterned tablecloth, you would just need to be sure that the patterns enhance each other and did not clash.

You should also try to match your napkins and napkin rings with your tea cups as well. If you have the type of teacups that have either a silver or a gold rim around the top of the teacup you really should try to make sure your napkin rings are the same metallic color, usually either gold or silver. Little touches like this will really make a difference in your overall table setting.

Another way to really accentuate the design of the tea sets is to make use of a centerpiece in the middle of the table. Make sure the centerpiece is not overly tall as you will want people to be able to see across it and converse without having to try to dodge around the centerpiece in order to be able to see the other person. Small floral displays often make great centerpieces. If you use a floral display, try to have the colors of the flowers match the colors of the cups and saucers. Or at least have them complement the colors used on the cups and saucers.

If you are entertaining quite a few guests you may not have enough of the same patterned cups and saucers, considering that you often only buy cups & saucers in sets of two, four or six. It is perfectly acceptable to have two different sets of cups and saucers on the table at the same time. It is best if they do match or at least complement each other. In other words it is nice if you can find a set of saucer cup and perhaps even bread plate with a floral design and then use another different floral design set as opposed to having one floral design set and one with fish or birds on the side of the cup. You can also mix and intermingle sets that are patterned and that are singularly colored. In fact this is something to keep in mind if you ever buy sets of cups and saucers. Always remember that there may be circumstances when you will be using the tea cup and saucer set with your other sets and try to see if you can at least buy sets that match with your other sets. Of course, sometimes you do not have any control over the sets of cups and saucers that you receive; maybe someone gives them to you as a gift or maybe they are inherited and passed down from your mother or grandmother for example. In these cases you simply have to do the best you can with what you have, but if you ever buy any other sets tried to look for sets that you can use with what you currently have.  Just remember, matching cups on matching saucers.

You can also become very creative with your use of cups and saucers. While they are primarily used of course for drinking tea there may be times when you only have one cup and saucer left in a set. Sometimes, rather than using this for drinking tea you can set it out as a decorative item. If the cup & saucer is decorative enough it can stand alone as its own declaration, or you could try some really unusual and creative ideas. For example you could use it as a small pot plant holder and set it on the window seal of your kitchen. Or you can fill it with potpourri or even use it to hold a decorative wax candle.

While I love the convenience of tea bags and k cups nothing is quite the same as a well set out matching tea set!

Collecting Cups And Saucers

September 23rd, 2010

Collecting cups and saucers can be very rewarding. While many people think of antiques when the topic of collecting tea cups and saucers is broached there are actually many other ways or methods, or even types of teacups and saucers to collect. For example, some people like to collect sets of children’s cups and saucers. Other people will have a fine collection of Chinese teacups, while others may prefer to collect tea cups saucers with a specific design such as floral cups and saucers, espresso cups and saucers, coffee cups and saucers, or cups and saucers with pastoral scenes. Still others diligently search for hand-painted tea cup and saucers.

It is said that tea always tastes best when sipped from a porcelain or bone china cup, though some people such as those who are fans of the Brown Betty tea pot insist it is the type of teapot used that makes all the difference. Of course, lovers of Chinese tea believe that it tastes best when sipped from thick clay cups which tend to absorb the odor and the taste of the tea served in them. Whether the tea actually tastes better or not, it is a great experience to serve tea in fine china cups.

The humble teacup has certainly developed throughout the ages. Originally, tea came from China. The Chinese drank their tea in thick small cups without handles. When tea was first exported to Europe, these types of cups were also used for drinking tea. However, the gentile  English and French nobility who were the only ones who could afford to drink tea those days found teacups too hot to handle. Soon saucers accompanied these teacups, in an effort to make the teacup easier to hold. Unfortunately, people thought that these saucers were to be used to help cool down the tea. They would pour a little tea into the saucer and then sip from the saucer. Eventually, handles were added to the teacups and everyone was happy that they could now hold the teacup without getting their fingers burned. Tea cups and saucers have remained this way ever since; at least those commonly used in Western countries for drinking black tea such as bone china tea cups.

Many people like to collect either antique or vintage cups and saucers. While these collectible cups and saucers can be bought online from various auction sites such as eBay, or even from antique dealers online you can also often find them by searching yourself in secondhand stores or at local fairs. While you may not unearth anything that is terribly valuable you can certainly have a lot of fun collecting and then learning how to identify the cups and saucers. Sometimes you may have the good luck of finding a saucer and cup that match, in different locations. Of course it is possible that every now and then you may truly find something that is genuinely worth quite a lot of money.

An interesting tidbit: Prior to making cups out of porcelain some are also made out of silver. However, it is much more difficult to find antique silver cups. The reason for this is that silver can be melted down and new items made from it. This frequently happened, making antique silver cups quite a bit more rare than antique porcelain cups.

Collecting Antique Cups and Saucers

If you are genuinely interested in collecting antique and vintage crockery you will probably need to invest in a good book that lists all the porcelain and ceramic marks that can be found on crockery. There are several of these types of books that can be bought online for fairly reasonable prices below are links to a couple that are currently sold on Amazon.

This books, “Cups and Saucers” by Jim and Susan Harran is highly recommended by collectors. It not only contains specifics on many antique cups and saucers, but it also has very clear, detailed pictures which will help identify different antique cups and saucers. It also details European and American tea ware, thus is very useful.

This particular book also includes a lot of good information for any collector. Unfortunately, it is a little difficult to find as it is out of print at the moment. However, second hand books are sometimes available online, or you may be able to pick it up fairly cheaply at a second hand book store.

This is a full color antique guide, written by a master in antiques, Martin Miller. This gives a very realistic appraisal of antiques and their actual worth, based on retail outlets not on auctions where prices can be highly inflated. Available in paperback, it is the perfect companion for your antique hunting ventures as you can take it with you as an instant reference guide.

The potter’s marks are usually found on the bottom of the cup and the bottom of the saucer. You simply turn the item over and you should see the manufacturer’s markings. This will include most likely the name of the manufacturer, the location where the crockery was made and the date made. Sometimes these marks are underneath the glaze sometimes they are scratched into the bottom of the cup and sometimes they have been painted on. Of course it is very possible to copy these marks and there are many fake antiques available so while these marks can be used to help determine the age of the piece of crockery, there also are the indications of the pieces and each that must be taken into consideration. If you really think you have found a genuine antique, one that may be worth some money, it would be best to have it evaluated by a professional antique dealer.

A Teacup Timeline

Here is a brief summary of some interesting tidbits I have unearthed about tea and tea cups.

In the early 1600s tea was exported from what is now known as Indonesia to Holland. This tea was sold by Chinese merchants and it quickly became a very popular drink in Holland as well as soon in other parts of Europe. Only a couple of decades later some of the first coffee and tea houses in London began selling tea. Tea was at first drunk by the nobility as it was very expensive and the average working-class family couldn’t
afford it.

Ever wondered where the custom of adding milk to tea began? Apparently a fine French lady Mme. de la Sabliere decided that tea was too hot to pour directly into her fine porcelain cups, it caused the glaze to crack and sometimes caused the very fine china to break. Adding a little milk to the tea however cooled it down considerably, made it easier to drink and most of all protected her fine porcelain ware. It should be noted that the Chinese do not add milk to their tea.

December 16, 1773 is a well-known date. Tea was exported from England to the American colonists. Rising up to show their disapproval with the heavy taxes levied on them, American colonists in Boston dumped tea chests filled with tea into the harbor. I would imagine some people were quite upset at the loss of all that fine tea, however the statement was made — one which has gone down into history, and has become a famous part of the history of tea also.

In England, nobility and the upper class usually dined quite late in the evening. Some women found the very long wait between lunch and dinner left them feeling quite faint and hungry. Consequently, the institution of afternoon tea was born. Tea was served along with fine cakes and pastries, proving a satisfying and filling snack that would hold them over until dinner.

A couple of other notable dates in tea history: Tea was first planted in Darjeeling in North India in 1856. Since that time, tea has been a major commodity exported from India and is famed worldwide for its quality.

Iced tea was apparently invented in 1904 at the St. Louis world’s fair in an effort to counteract the sweltering heat at the time. It has become a staple drink worldwide and is now commonly available in many convenience stores, as well as served regularly during the hot months of summer.

The tea bag was an accidental discovery. A certain merchant transported tea in small qualities inside fine cloth bags. Apparently those on the receiving end thought this was intentional, and with great delight dipped the small bags into boiled water. The resultant tea was delightful and best of all there were no tea leaves floating around in the tea. As the small bags were so much easier to use, they became very popular and hence the tea bag was born.

It is to be noted that teacups differ in shape and size from coffee cups. Teacups flare out and have a wider rim than coffee cups. Coffee cups are generally more cylindrical in shape; they do not flare out at the rim as teacups to. Both coffee cups and teacups should sit on saucers. These saucers are used to prevent tea or coffee from staining fine table cloths, and you’re also supposed to set your teaspoon neatly on the saucer.

If you simply love the idea of drinking from cups and saucers but do not feel it necessary to buy expensive items, you can also find many cheap cups and saucers online. While they may not be as costly, I am sure the tea will taste just as good as if you were drinking from an expensive antique cup.