The Difference Between a Coffee Cup and Tea Cup

You’re picking up your coffee cup to take a sip, and then you realize something- you have a teacup! Granted, the coffee and tea cups look almost identical, though each has a different purpose. So what is the difference between a coffee and a teacup that we should be aware of?

The Difference Between a Coffee Cup and Tea Cup

The teacup is primarily framed to be light and graceful and to cool the liquid in it fast as you politely drink tea with its rules and regulations in mind. Coffee cups are larger than tea cups and are made for cupping in hand for long periods and retaining heat.

A black ceramic mug is placed on a white and gold coaster beside a book and a gray blanket is on top of a white bed

Since tea vessels can’t be served alone, tea sets are generally sold in sets, whereas coffee mugs can be purchased individually. As a result, individuals have the freedom to select the material, size, and design that is right for them.

These two types of cups have different uses as well. A coffee cup is for drinking hot beverages like coffee or hot chocolate, while a teacup can be used for both hot or cold beverages such as iced water!

How to Distinguish Between Coffee and Tea Cups

Coffee and tea are two of the most popular drinks in the world. They are both served in cups, but they have different features. In order to better understand how the two types of vessels differ from one another, let’s take a closer look.

Cup Size

Coffee cups hold around 6 – 8 ounces of liquid, while tea cups only hold about 4 ounces. In addition to this, coffee cups tend to be taller than tea cups and have a larger diameter at the top than at the bottom.

The size of the cup also makes a difference in how it’s used. Coffee cups tend to be larger than tea ones, so you don’t have to refill them often when drinking coffee. The larger size also allows for more space between the liquid and your nose, which is important if you’re sensitive to the smell or taste of coffee or tea.


Coffee cups and tea cups use different types of handles. Coffee cups have handles that are sturdy, straight, and round. Teacups have handles that are delicate, curved, and thin.

This difference is because of how we use our hands when holding each type of cup. We grip the cup tightly when we drink coffee, with our fingers wrapped around the handle. This allows us to hold the hot beverage safely while we drink from it without burning ourselves.

However, we do not need to maintain such a grip on our cups when we drink tea because tea is usually served at room temperature. As such, most tea drinkers prefer to gently grip their cups from underneath.


Coffee cups are usually thicker than tea cups as they need to maintain heat for a longer period, allowing people to cradle them with their hands and drink from them for longer periods.  A thin teacup helps a beverage cool down quickly while allowing mindful sipping.

The difference between the two types of cups has to do with their development. The first coffee cups were made in Italy in the 16th century. These cups, or “caffettiera,” which means “coffee brewer.” were used to brew coffee and drink it from the same container.

In ancient China, people drank tea from bowls held with two hands when drinking from them. Eventually, these bowls became smaller and more refined until they resembled the teacups we know today—delicate porcelain cups on saucers that could be easily held in one hand while sipping tea from them.

A floral-designed teacup with a matching floral coaster beside purple flowers on top of a brown placemat

Tips to Consider Before Choosing a Coffee Cup or Tea Cup

If you are a coffee or tea lover, you know the importance of having a good cup. As such, you need to choose wisely before deciding on the right coffee cup or tea cup for your needs:


  • Its purpose
  • Hand size
  • Durability
  • Budget

Think About Its Purpose

If it is just for personal use at home, you can get any type of cup that suits your needs. However, if you work in an office environment, you will need to find something that fits your working environment and meets health and safety requirements.

In this case, it is best to go for something made from stainless steel because this material is very durable, so it will last for a long time without needing replacement or repair.

Consider the Size of Your Hand

If you have small hands, you must ensure that the coffee cup and teacup are not too big to hold comfortably. If they are too big, it will be difficult for you to drink from them. The same goes for people with large hands, who may find the cups too small.

Think of Durability

One important thing you need to consider before buying a coffee or tea cup is its durability. If a cup is not durable enough, it may break easily when accidentally dropped or if accidentally hit by something hard like metal objects or hard surfaces.

Consider Your Budget

You should consider how much money you want to spend on your new coffee or tea cup. If you are on a budget, you may want to search for cheap coffee or the cheapest tea cups available on the market today.

It’s important to remember that some cheap products may not last long due to poor quality materials used in manufacturing them. However, if you have more money at your disposal, this is not an issue since you can buy higher-quality products that will last longer and cost less over time because they won’t break easily!

Different colored mugs are arranged on a brown wooden floating rack placed on a brick wall

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Preferable: Porcelain or Fine Bone?

Porcelain is preferred over bone china for making coffee and tea as it’s more robust and durable, though it can also be more expensive! Porcelain cups also come in different colors and patterns to find something that perfectly matches your style. The color of a porcelain cup does not fade easily either, so it will look good even after repeated use over time.

Can You Drink Tea From a Coffee Mug?

You can drink tea from a coffee mug, though it’s not recommended. Tea is more sensitive to temperature than coffee, so the tea will be more likely to get cold faster than if you used a mug with greater thermal mass.


Teacups are designed to be light and graceful, quickly cooling the liquid inside them, while coffee cups are for convenience, with handles made so you can cup them tightly for long periods. Other differences exist in material, size, shape, and how you hold them.