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Steven Moore is available for private consultations and tutorials in tableware history, placement, correct usage and dining etiquette.

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2 May 2023


Choosing a teacup is a pleasure. It sets the occasion and compliments the guests or gives you that particular pleasure of choosing something purely for yourself.

Even when enjoying afternoon tea in London at a tea salon or hotel, a good teacup can improve things immeasurably for any of our tea etiquette courses. 

As hard as it is to choose, here are three of my favourite teacups.

Pemberly pattern Royal Crown Derby teacup

A special Royal Crown Derby ‘mongrel’

When I worked as creative consultant for Royal Crown Derby, I always made a point to visit the factory shop. One day I spied two single cups in the ‘Pemberly’ pattern priced at £1 each. I was tempted, but there were no saucers.

Just then, someone came from the warehouse with a box of ‘Ashbourne’ pattern saucers. I grabbed two and took them to the counter. ‘Don’t suppose these can be £1 each, too?’ I asked. ‘Well, as it’s you, Steven,’ they flatteringly replied, ‘let’s call it staff discount’.

They don’t match, but they’re both blue and gold, and I use them every morning for breakfast. It’s a daily reminder of happy years helping a noble British pottery get back on its feet.

Royal China Company teacup

A bargain six

When I first saw this set, I assumed it was Italian due to the Empire style.  To my pleasant surprise, it was made in Korea by the Royal China Company.

I love the shape and pattern and the contrast of the bright gold and matte gold. The quality is second to none and likely aimed at the gifting market which is very much part of Korean culture. 

As for the price? £12 for six. How could I say ‘no?’ A gift to me!

Rococo revival style teacup

Perfect for a tisane

This part set by Samuel Alcock dates to about 1840.

All hand-painted and gilded Rococo revival style is typical of its period. I tend to use these when I enjoy a herbal tea (tisane) as the open shape cools the tea down, which is much better for herbal teas.

Don’t be frightened by using antique cups. So long as they’re not cracked, no harm will come. I always wash (or at least rinse) them after use by hand.

Learn more from Steven Moore by enrolling today for our self-guided online training course in Afternoon Tea Etiquette and History.

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