Why the oldest tea cups don’t have handles

Today is Wednesday, but yesterday over on my Instagram it was Teaching Tuesday!

Did you know that the oldest tea cups don’t have handles? These have been in my family since the late 1700s/early 1800s. Here’s why they don’t have handles:


These are known as tea bowls or sipper cups. The English began drinking tea like the Chinese, but wanted theirs served piping hot. The tea bowls were too hot to hold, so they came up with a solution – saucers! They’d actually pour their tea into the saucers to cool it before drinking. Handles weren’t commonly added to tea cups until 1810. After which, using your saucer to cool your tea became vulgar. During the time of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution, this is how the colonists’ tea cups would’ve looked!

The proper way to hold a sipper tea cup is to place your first two fingers on the bottom of the cup and your thumb on the rim.

As you can see from the picture above, saucers were originally shaped more like a bowl. The rim is much higher than the saucers you see today. This was so it would hold the tea poured into it. Today we can use a saucer to hold a used tea spoon, tea bag, or to prevent drips from staining the table.

I hope you found this informative! You never know what will pop up over on my Instagram. Join me!

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