Science reveals why tea tastes better from a mug not a cup

Mugs have been proven to be the tea drinking vessel of choice [Photo: Getty]
Mugs have been proven to be the tea drinking vessel of choice [Photo: Getty]

Cup or mug? What we choose to have our tea out of is a highly divisive matter.

But those in the cup camp might want to read on as it’s been proven once and for all that tea tastes better when its served in a mug rather than out of a paper cup.

It’s all to do with a trick of the mind you see.

During last night’s Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped psychologist Charles Spence from the University of Oxford explained that the heaviness of a mug makes us believe that the drink inside is of better quality.

That’s because we tend to associate drinks in paper cups as coming from cheaper, less high-end places.

In order to test his theory, Professor Spence asked a group of volunteers to try out a cuppa from one table marked A and another from a table marked B.

The volunteers all claimed to prefer drink A, which they described as “sweeter’ while labelling drink B as being “bland.”

But professor Spence went on to reveal that the two teas were exactly the same, the only difference was that he’d added a 30g weight to the bottom of drink A, which was the drink of choice.

“What we feel in our hands can have as much influence as what’s in the cup or the mug in determining what we taste,” he explained.

He went on to say that we associate a heavier weight of a mug as a sign of quality and therefore think our teas taste better when they come in a heavier vessel.

“People can’t separate the tea from the container, it’s almost as if your brain takes that weight as a sign of quality, which in many categories it is.”

Cups: look pretty but tea tastes better from a mug [Photo: Getty]
Cups: look pretty but tea tastes better from a mug [Photo: Getty]

It isn’t the first time tea drinking vessels have been discussed on TV. Last year Dr Stuart Farrimond, an expert in the science of tea making, showed TV presenter Cherry Healey how to brew the perfect cup of Rosie on a new series of ‘Inside the Factory’ on BBC Two.

Within his recommendations Dr Farrimond explained why he believes the colour of your tea drinking vessel of choice can actually make a difference to the taste.

Research has shown that tea drunk from a red or pink mug will taste sweeter than from a white or blue one. It’s all about psychology you see, and studies have revealed that saltiness is associated with the colours white and blue, while sweetness is associated with red and pink.

And as for the material of your mug, Dr Farrimond says we should never drink tea from a styrofoam cup.

That’s because the styrofoam absorbs the flavour molecules which in turn reduces the tastiness of the tea.

So there you have it folks, for the optimum tea drinking experience your tea needs to be in a pink or red mug. Still not convinced? Here’s our expert tips on brewing the perfect cuppa.

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