The history of tea cups spans hundreds of years and several continents as the popularity of tea spread from China and India to England and the West. Over time, tea cup designs changed as different cultures embraced tea. The original vessels used for preparing tea in China were made out of porcelain in two colours: white and blue and had no handles. In modern China and Japan the bowl shape, made out of porcelain and clay is still employed in the making of tea cups.
Silver tea cups without handles arrived in Europe during the reign of George II. The nobility used silver or pewter for their tea but the heat made the metal hot and impossible to hold. Not until the mid 1750s was a small handle added to prevent the ladies form burning their fingers. As the custom of tea spread to Europe, the teaware range included the tea pot, sugar holders, milk/creamer containers, and even tea spoons to match.
In Britain tea cups began as dainty little porcelain cups with hand painted flowers and pale pink backgrounds. Hand painted tea cups were produced frequently right up until the 1920s when more commercialised mass production of tea cups evolved.
Some of the most consistently popular manufacturers of tea cups are: Limoges, Meissen, Haviland, Royal Doulton and Wedgwood.
Here at Grays you will find a great selection of tea cups and saucers in various styles and colours. Here are our favourite picks:
Chinese tea bowl decorated with European design from Guest and Gray
An Art Nouveau silver four piece tea set from Van Den Bosch
This lovely English Rose Cup and Saucer is available from Olympic Antiquer
Shelley Baloon Tree Cup and Saucer from Deco Etcetera
18th century Meissen Cup and Saucer from K & M Antiques
Visit Grays to pick your favourite cup and saucer.