The drinking vessel matters

I’ll risk sounding like a snob while actually being an illiterate by saying this: drinking from a little porcelain teacup gives a much different, and nicer, feel than drinking from a big tea mug. And I’ll try to dissect the difference.

The teacup on the left was given for free at a colloquium on Korean tea ceremony. The mug on the right was bought for $25 at the Golden Tea Shop.

The enamel of the teacup is smooth on the lips. The shape of the teacup fits the opening of the mouth. When you drink from a teacup, there is plenty of open air surrounding your nose and a little bit of the tea aroma directly under, whereas when you drink from the mug, the entire nose is trapped in the heat and aroma of the tea, which tend to be suffocating. The teacup is shallow, allowing the tea to approach the lip faster than the tea in the mug, this amount of waiting time must also have an effect on the enjoyment.

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5 comments for “The drinking vessel matters

  1. Bob
    March 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Like in wine and beer, the shape of the vessel seriously affects the flavor and feel of any beverage. If you look at most mugs, the rim is thick, rounded, coarse. Look at a fine wine glass, the rim is very thin, slightly edged and very smooth and refined. This allows the fluid to flow and break evenly. You get a cleaner flavor. A wider opening, with a bit of flare can really enhance aroma and this is a huge plus in certain drinks. Like tea.

    • Mai
      March 13, 2012 at 12:21 am

      😀 Thank you Bob :D. As expected from a wine connoisseur. One thing with wine glasses though: there’s very little wine in a very big glass, I can see that the shape of the glass traps the aroma inside, but why make it so big?

  2. Bob
    March 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Unlike tea, which is usually served hot, at least if you are trying to appreciate the quality of the tea and preparation, wine is usually served cool or cold, the aroma needs time to release and open up. This is even more crucial in fine dry whites and reds, where aroma comprises a signigicant part of the appreciation of the wine. Hot beverages release and carry aromas in the steam, whereas, wine must release and volatalize on it’s own. It is a science in it’s own right. I would argue, however, that a larger tea cup, within reason, less filled, would make the aroma of tea even better. The problem would be, if you drink tea from a large bowl, the temperature cools down very fast.

    • Mai
      March 14, 2012 at 2:07 am

      Hmm, so that means the teas that need to cool down before drinking (like oolong and black) should be served in a large bowl, but only in small quantity so that the drinker can finish a bowl just after it becomes the right warmness. Nonetheless, I still think that having some fresh cold air in contrast to the steam makes the aroma more pronounced. With a large bowl, it also seems harder to control how much and when the liquid approaches the mouth, that suddenness catches me off-guard and then I can’t fully analyze the taste.

      • Ankit
        November 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm

        The honesty of your posting shines through

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