What is bone china and why do we love drinking tea from it?
Posted on June 25 2020
It's 10am in suburban Perth circa 1991, and five elderly ladies are getting ready for battle. They park their white Honda/Mazda/Toyota sedans kerbside, and make their grand entrance into the 'Good Room'. Pastel outfits prevail.
The scent of rose and lavender hang thick in the air.
Does this sound at all familiar? Welcome to my Grandmother's fortnightly Bridge & Tea gatherings, when the foldable card table was covered in white linen, the bone china teacups and saucers appeared, and we'd be politely encouraged to find somewhere else to linger.
It has to be the origin of my love of bone china. The Bridge part never really caught on..
So what is bone china, and why is it so great to drink tea from?
Bone china is a porcelain, but the ingredient that differentiates it from other porcelains is the addition of cow bone ash. Yep, the stuff from the bones of real cows. This special ingredient makes bone china thinner and smoother than regular porcelain, giving it a creamy, white color and opaqueness.
The smooth surface of a bone china cup or mug keeps the natural tannins in the tea from sticking to the side, so the flavour of the tea itself doesn't leach out as they would in a more porous drinking vessel.
Try it out yourself tea lovers, and let me know your thoughts.