Ask Tippy: How Can I Start a Teacup Collection

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Ask Tippy is a series where you get to take control of the blog, and ask me questions about tea! Do you have a question about tea types? Tea preparation? Teaware? Ask away! I received the following question from twitter friend Carolina:

Q. Tippy, I just love the look of mismatched vintage teacups but I have no idea how to start collecting them. Do you have any advice?

A. Well my dear, you have come to the right place! Being a teacup, I have tea ware friends far and wide that I’ve met in all sorts of places. I think the first thing you should decide is if you’d like to go modern, vintage, or both. If you’re looking for vintage pieces try auctions, garage sales thrift stores, and antique shops. Look for estate sale listings too. Flea markets are also a fun way to shop for teacups. There are usually quite a few vendors with inexpensive tea ware. Online auctions are also a great way to browse, just make sure you look carefully at pictures and read all the descriptions. Used tea ware can often have chips or cracks and if you are unsure based on the pictures given, be sure to ask to see more photos.

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You’ll have to decide what ‘look’ is right for you. Are you interested in fancy china cups, sleek art deco styles, or something else? Do you like minimalist style or something more ornate? There is also an entire range of art pottery out there that you can find on Etsy or even Instagram. Or perhaps you like all of it! We certainly do. Kat’s collection of teacups is always growing. I feel like such a proud mother to our colorful brood!

Another tip is to look for teacups while you travel. Many cultures drink tea and have unique tea ware. For example, you can get tulip shaped glass cups in Turkey, and yixing clay cups in China. Kat likes to pick up pretty bone china cups in London, especially in the antique markets there. Or even just around the US you can find various potters working locally that make beautiful tea ware. Kat was in a little beach town and came across a local potter who makes beautiful tiny teacups. Keep your eyes open while you walk about town! Bigger cities will of course have even more to choose from.

Once you start collecting, you can display your cups anywhere you like. Kat likes to keep hers in a china cabinet, to make sure her little niece Camille doesn’t accidentally break one of her favorites. But she also pulls out her mismatched china cups and saucers for tea parties. She has every day useable art pottery for special tea sessions alone or with friends. And of course she has me! Her trusty friend and tea addict. But I’m one of a kind, of course!

Dearies, do you have a burning tea question you’d like answered? Tag me on twitter @TheLovelyTeaCup!

Drinking Tea In Bowls

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Dearies, it seems everywhere I look these days, people are posting pictures of food in bowls. Noodle bowls, rice bowls, breakfast bowls with all sorts of healthy ingredients. Dearies, I’m proud to be a cup that is of the larger variety- you can wrap your hands around me as you sip, just like a bowl! Kat loves using both hands while she drinks, she says she is comforted by cradling the warmth of the tea in both hands.

Did you know that drinking tea from bowls dates all the way back to Lu Yu’s The Classic of Tea, written during the Tang dynasty? Lu Yu actually lists a few different styles of tea bowl and prefers the beautiful celadon glazed bowls best. Tea cups did not get handles until the 1700s!

For all you matcha lovers out there, do you have a chawan? A chawan is a Japanese tea bowl. It’s used in the Japanese tea ceremony, and is essential in making a traditional matcha. Chawan are wide, with enough room to whisk up your matcha. Matcha bowls can range in design and be quite minimal, or have beautiful artisanal pottery glazes. Kat and I often get lost in online searches for handmade tea bowls. I often have to stop her from purchasing every one she sees! If you study the art of the Japanese tea ceremony, you’ll learn all the proper ways to handle the tea bowl, and how to present it to the drinker. It’s quite beautiful. You can learn a little bit more about the tea ceremony in my previous post here.

Kat thought it would be funny to have an ‘all bowl’ brunch for her friends. Perhaps a yogurt and granola bowl, fruit bowl, and of course a bowl of tea! A bowl of fruity tea-infused sorbet would be a lovely ending to the meal. Have you tried making any of the ice creams or sorbets in my post about DIY tea ice cream?

Dearies, isn’t it comforting to have a large, satisfying bowl of tea? Please don’t tell anyone I said that, the other teacups in the kitchen might start to ignore me! Don’t get me wrong, I do love my handle. But sometimes it’s nice to just have that warm bowl nestled in your hands.