favourite tea mugs

Last week I wrote a blog post about my favourite coffee mugs, so today I present the exciting sequel: tea mugs, this time it’s herbal!

Over a decade ago I was a black tea and coffee drinker. I’d alternate during the day, but my black tea habit was the stronger. In Ireland I often experienced the ‘neverending cup of tea syndrome’ when I visited friends’ houses. Tea cups were constantly refilled, usually accompanied by a biscuit or apple tart, and because there’s no harm in it (as we think), I’d often depart feeling jittery.

I went on a health kick and knocked all caffeine on the head. I also gave up a plethora of other foodstuffs and the following two days resulted in a nightmarish withdrawal period. I remember thinking on the second night in my restless bed ‘if I’m like this tomorrow I’m going back on the tae’, but I didn’t.

I kept my hot drink habit going by indulging in herbal teas. When I returned to college to do a M.A. in screenwriting I went back on coffee suspecting I would need its kick to get me through the long days and study. I’m currently not indulging in caffeine – except for the occasional green tea. Over time I’m sure I’ll return to full strength coffee, but I won’t go back to black tea.

My reasoning is that in Ireland drinking ordinary black tea is more dangerous than coffee. I don’t like milk, so I would have to stick to something like Earl Grey or Darjeeling, which are better without the addition of milk (yes, a contentious subject, but that’s my experience). I’m hardly going to go into someone’s house and ask for a posh tea. Although, most of my friends have cupboards stacked with teas and coffees.

But, who knows what changes will come in the future? So, here are my selection of favourite tea mugs. As I mentioned, there are far more of them than coffee mugs.

Newman teapot

First, my tea pot. This is an Aller Pottery teapot by Bryan Newman. It’s heavy, so once filled with water it has considerable heft, but gosh it makes a fabulous cup of tea.

Giant Miro mug

I refer to this as ‘the bucket’, as it holds a serious quantity of tea. It’s wrapped around with one of Miró’s images, which is colourful and bright. I bought this about nine years ago in a shop in Clarinbridge that no longer exists. It’s one of my firm favourites for when I don’t want to keep adding hot water to a cup. You’ll notice that the red is quite faded from being washed so much.

Cat mug

I bought this mug in a shop that sold pottery in Dublin, when I was a postgrad student. It’s hand-painted, and I liked the cheerful colours. A while after buying this I spotted a TV presenter on RTÉ using the same mug – when I next noticed the mugs in a shop they were no longer hand painted, but printed. I guess I got in during its early popularity.

Heart cup

This is a recent purchase. It’s fine bone china, and upbeat. It’s gone into heavy rotation, but I don’t know if it will ever become dear to me like some of my other mugs. At this point it doesn’t have enough history. We’ll see how it progresses.

Spiral mug

This is one of my rare mugs that’s permissible to use for tea or coffee. I own six of them, and they’re by Jack O’Patsy. It’s nice to be able to lay out a matching set when you have company, so this lot have to be flexible. I have matching plates, and various crockery in this design.

Engraving mug

This is another fine bone china mug. I liked the fit of my hand in the handle, and its classic Victorian-style floral engraving. This is for when I’m feeling refined.

Timorous beastie

This is a hand made, hand painted mug by Highland Stoneware, which I bought when I was in Aberdeen last year for the HiEx Comic Book Expo. On the other side its says ‘Tim’rous Beastie’, which is a reference to the Robert Burns poem, ‘To A Mouse‘. It begins, thus:

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.

I bought the mug at the airport, as a souvenir of my trip. I didn’t pay any attention to the price, and made a silent gulp when I was told (the price was in sterling). I handed my card over too embarrassed to withdraw the purchase, but I’m glad I didn’t. I love my wee tim’rous beastie, and say hello to him often.

Dragon cup and saucer

I bought this dragon mug and matching saucer in Tintagel, Devon many years ago. It’s by Tintagel Pottery, and I because of where I store it in the kitchen I have a tendency to forget about it sometimes. I often use it without the saucer.

As before, this isn’t my entire cohort of tea mugs, but the ones I reach for first.

These objects are some of my most-used items in my house, so many of them are rife with memories and associations with people and places. I could live without them all if I had to, but I would miss many of them, like silent, ever-present friends.

Tea time