Ode to a teacup (or two)


A long, long time ago in a city far, far away (Joburg, after all, is much, much further from Cape Town than Cape Town is from Joburg) a very lovely little friend of mine who loves all things that fly – birds, planes, pilots, and even cricket balls – gifted me a set of beautiful porcelain mugs. They were delicate in every way, despite being mugs, and they quickly became my very favourite and exclusive vessels for drinking tea out of.

Now lest you think this a small thing, let me contextualise: I spent several years working in a category that had not one, but two Sri Lankan tea masters in who took the time and care to teach me a wack-load of stuff about tea! So if you know what Camellia Sinensis is; if you have delighted in an Ali High Mountain Taiwanese Oolong; know the difference between Sencha and Chinese style green tea; can tell an Kenyan from a Ceylon by looking at it; and have done a slurp & spit comparative tasting of over 85 teas in one morning, then you may join my club. If not, brace yourself, the lecture and delight are coming your way when next we meet!

So, when I say that these two teacups (yes, they’re mugs, but they’re also teacups – this is my planet) became the favourite, indeed only, cups for daily worship at the tea shrine you will appreciate that in my life this is not a small thing.

And you will also appreciate my utter sadness when one sunny morning not too long ago, I poured freshly boiled water into one of my teacups and a few moments later a ring of lightly tea-flavoured water appeared around the outside edge of the cup and then slowly accumulated and ran off towards the edge of the kitchen counter. My teacup had developed, probably from much love and tea, a hairline fracture so tiny it’s invisible, but large enough to no longer do what teacups must do. My teacup can no longer hold tea.

And sad as I was, it did remind me just how much love and enjoyment and comfort I had gained from this simple thing – a porcelain teacup.

And besides I had another one. Ordinarily they rotated daily, one being used, one in the cupboard. Cleaned with water and effort, never soap.

So I poured out the tea, sadly, and took out it’s mate and had my tea and carried on with my day.

Two days later my barefoot husband was making me a cup of tea – he is lovely that way – and as he reached into the basin to retrieve the remaining tea-cup it knocked against the stone counter top and the handle came clean off. Intact, just separated from the cup. So he dutifully went out the next day, bought glue specifically for the purpose of repairing this most valuable and rare entity, his wife’s beloved tea-cup, and carefully cleaned and glued and left it to rest and set in a safe corner of the kitchen.

With delight he proclaimed it repaired a day or two later, and made tea in it as is customary and then, with much love and happiness picked up the teacup full of tea and watched in horror as the cup slid off the handle he was holding, the glue having melted, and shatter into a million tiny bits of tea-covered white and pink porcelain on the kitchen floor.

The second teacup had given up the ghost just days after the first.

They had worked so hard for me, been so very much loved and cherished and appreciated that the first, with it’s invisible crack, is still sitting on top of my grandmother’s old-fashioned suitcase where it has become part of a collection of things I love. I just can’t bring myself to throw it away. And besides, it’s earned its’ rest.


Rest, too, is a valid state of being, it seems to say to me as it catches my eye from behind my computer. Everything has it’s time for service, and it’s time for rest, perhaps this lesson is one I’m still learning.



4 Responses to “Ode to a teacup (or two)”

Leave a Reply