Thursday, July 26, 2007

Teaware: The Secret of the Saucer

I like to have a lot of different cups at my disposal. I choose a cup for its function, but I’m big on looks too – I want it to be aesthetically pleasing to look at while I’m sipping out of it, whether it’s a big mug, dainty teacup, or a tiny tasting cup. At work, I use a fairly heavy café mug, to keep my tea warm over an hour or so as I sip at it. For black tea at home, I prefer a really big heavy mug, for the same reason (I’m generally a sipper, which means tea gets cold quickly without the insulating properties of a heavy mug). I have heavy ceramic travel mugs for insulation and the ability to toss them in the dishwasher for cleaning. In the evenings though, I use a glass mug because it cools more quickly & I like to watch the color of the tea. And lately, I’ve been turning to my lovely Lenox teacup and saucer set (pictured above) in the late nights for green, oolongs or rooibos tisanes. Teacups are generally wide and squat, to allow for good cooling and easy drinking.

It’s taken me awhile to come to terms with the traditional teacup and saucer set. When you’re not used to using the set, it seems like a lot to keep track of. It’s not always easy to juggle two pieces of dishware when one might fit better (in which case I use a glass mug). I’ve always sort of wondered what the saucer was for – a spoon, perhaps? But I don’t add anything to my tea, so that’s not needed. Or the teabag? Again, I drink mostly loose leaf tea, and when I do put something in a bag, I have teabag holders by my normal chairs and by the bed for holding teabags, though I normally just let the tea brew in the kitchen and leave the tea/teabag there. I have no need to carry a teabag holder with me.

But lately, I’ve been finding that the handiest use for the saucer is simply to hold the cup. Nothing balances on the arm of my big reading chair like a saucer/cup set…my big mugs wouldn’t stay there, nor would my delicate glass cups. But the saucer creates its own hard surface for the cup to balance on, so if I don’t want to reach all the way to the end table for a sip, I don’t have to. It also makes it possible for me to take my tea to bed without a full tea tray, as I did last night. I had a lovely rooibos blend right before bed, and could sit the cup and saucer right beside me on the bed as I sipped and read without worrying about leaning it against my leg for stability, or keeping it in hand at all times (as I do with mugs).

So finally, I think I’ve discovered the secret of the saucer – and that is simply to hold the cup. Amazing that it took so many years to come to such a revelation, but there it is. The shape & size of the saucer are much more important when you consider this particular use for it. My Lenox saucers are nice and large, and curved upwards to catch any dribbles (another good use for a saucer, though I don’t often have that problem either). I’ll have to use some of my other cup/saucer sets to see if they work as well when they’re smaller too.

In keeping with that train of thought though, people used to actually take their teacup and saucer set with them when visiting friends if the hostess didn’t have enough sets for everyone. What a great idea, really – you’d always use your own set, and I assume everyone would have a different pattern, so you’d always know whose cup was whose as well. Ingenious, when you think about it. I’ve considered buying a tote for my favorite teacup and saucer…perhaps one of these days I’ll splurge. I really like the totes from Sweet Necessi-Teas – a bit expensive, perhaps, but certainly elegant and luxurious.

So find yourself a teacup and saucer set. Don’t get just any set, pick out one that you really like the look and feel of when it’s in your hand. That’s what got me to finally start using (and musing about) mine. I wouldn’t want to be without it now (but I’m not getting rid of my nice big cozy mugs, either!).

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if they make saucers for mugs (so you can have the best of both worlds - heat retention and balance)?


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