12 Teacups (and Saucers) For Posh Entertaining
Much like the warm, comforting beverages poured into them, teacups and their accompanying saucers made their way into Western lifestyles centuries ago via China. For that reason, we call these delicate vessels made from porcelain “fine china.” Despite the many ways we have come to enjoy drinking tea—for example, from mugs or poured over ice—the teacup and saucer still stand on ceremony. Below, Nest Casa has sourced the most inspiring teacups and saucers for your next formal tea drinking session.
The Tradition of the Tea Ceremony
The ritual can be casual and informal. The Irish like to come around for a “cuppa,” which is doublespeak for stopping by for a quick visit and a chat over tea. Even more enduring is the tea ceremony. The Japanese tradition of chado translates to “the way of tea,” which centers around matcha tea preparation. The ceremony, which takes place on a tatami mat on the floor floor while seated at a chabudai table, is a way for the host to express hospitality, leaving guests with a sense of tranquility and harmony.
The Chinese also share rituals around tea. Customs dictate serving tea as a show of respect to elders. It has also been used as a means of apology. In a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony, the bride and groom serve tea to parents and older relatives to show gratitude. Chinese tea houses have been more than a place to quench one's thirst. They have also been class equalizers where healthy political and social discourse can occur. Tea is associated with philosophy, literature, and the arts. Religiously, it plays a significant role in the practices of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
Afternoon tea has been a vital part of the English lifestyle dating back to the 18th century. It became a meal to bridge the gap between lunch and the evening meal at 8 p.m. for the upper classes as well as a reason to socialize. It has always been generally easy to prepare, as servants were typically off the clock in the mid-afternoon. Food served at afternoon teas can include scones, pastries, breads, vegetables, cheese, fruits, and even cold meats (such as pigeon and salmon).
Editor's Picks: Teacups and Saucers
Hermès offers a graphic take on a floral motif. Referred to as "A Walk in the Garden," this abstract pattern hints at Japanese influence and has a vintage feel to it. The luxury house makes this set from porcelain in France.
Raynaud is a French porcelain house founded in 1911 by Martial Raynaud, who traveled the world selling "white gold" (as the fine china was dubbed early on). He set up a porcelain atelier in Limoges for embellishing and decorating. By 1919, he had bought a factory, firmly establishing the porcelain marque. Today, the house is run by the third generation of Raynauds. The Harmonia teacup and saucer demonstrate the brand’s signature vibrant hue with a lively floral print.
London-based LSA International presents this gold chevron pattern, creating a modern take on the teacup and saucer. The family-run business is known for its contemporary glass. This porcelain set evokes an Art Deco mood on a subtle yet statement-making duo.
Quintessential Fornasetti is on display in this teacup and saucer set. Developed in the 2005, the Tema e Variazioni collection was built on Piero Fornasetti’s original designs of muse Lina Cavalieri. The opera singer's sly gaze comes with a wink on the L'antipatico design. Complete the look with a matching teapot.
A favorite of the permanent collection at New York's MAD (Museum of Art and Design), this I-Wares set paints an unexpected pop of color onto a traditional piece. Fashioned in the baroque style, this teacup and saucer have received a modern update that is thanks to manufacturer Seletti (an Italian household product maker since 1964). Shown here in yellow, the three-piece set (including a spoon) comes in multiple shades. It can be mixed and matched with a teapot and creamer from the same collection.
Do you fancy a tea break fit for a king? Harney & Sons master tea blenders offer this spectacularly regal Historic Royal Palaces teacup and saucer set. It draws inspiration from the United Kingdom’s magnificent castles and manor homes. Made in England, this gold-gilded and -detailed combo will make anyone feel like a royal.
The polar opposite of the Historic Royal Palaces teacup set is this minimalist set. The Pilar teacup and saucer set from Blomus sits short and wide to allow tea to open up fully so that one can appreciate the depth of flavor. The high-rimmed saucer can easily hold a spoon and a tea bag (once steeped).
Bring the African plains home for teatime with this Halcyon Days Serengeti zebra teacup and saucer. Handcrafted in the brand's Stoke-on-Trent factory, the set features an idyllic scene from the African national park. A zebra is situated amongst native flora, executed in navy blue. Against the fine white china, this lends a distinguished air to the design.
Dotted with a fine gold banding, this Simply Anna teacup from Anna Weatherly has a restrained and elegant design, suitable for fancy occasions and everyday use. This teacup is part of a larger dinnerware pattern that includes saucers as well as dinner, salad, and dessert plates.
This set from Wedgewood is reminiscent of a typical Japanese hibiscus flower and a popular china pattern. In varying shades of blue (which the fine china and porcelain brand is known for), this teacup and saucer are a classic addition to any tea tray.
Sometimes, one requires a functional design over a complex design. But why should you have to choose? These Kinto Japanese Double-Walled Rim Glasses keep your beverage warm inside while the outside is cool to the touch. They come in four different sizes, the smaller of which make great teacups. Both handy and functional, these glass cups won't leave rings and provide a stylized rim to make gripping it easier.
Another stunner from Hermès is this Carnets d'Equateur Birds teacup and saucer. Evoking a tropical rainforest scene, this set showcases fanciful birds peering through the foliage.