Tea is a great drink, but it can come with a few less desirable consequences (as can coffee too). It is easy to repeatedly give your teapot and/or cup a cursory wash without noticing a slow, gradual build-up of residue on your favourite teaware. Tea can be used, on occasion for dying clothes, so the stain it produces is resilient to ‘a quick rise’.
Why does tea stain? Without going into PhD Chemistry, what it boils down to is a process known as polymerization. This is where several molecules react together to create one bigger molecule. In tea, this is an organic chemical which just loves oxygen (which is why tea rings develop – the top of the liquid tea reacts with the air – or more precisely the oxygen molecules in the air - around it). If you drink your tea slowly, you can end up with a series of tea rings which develop between sips!
So how to clean it? There are plenty of big, flash and expensive cleaning products on the market, and if you wish to throw money at the problem then feel free. There are, however, plenty of much cheaper products out there which you probably already have in your cupboards which will work – when combined with a little muscle power and patience….
With each of these methods, it is advisable to test on a small area of the cup first to ensure there is no adverse reaction with the cup material or glazing.
Baking Soda – this is a mild abrasive which will remove stains but with little risk of affecting your cup.
Salt and Vinegar – Salt replaces baking soda and vinegar, the water.
There are other methods you can find on the internet for this, including products such as bleach and denture tablets, but these seem a bit extreme to me. I have used all of the above techniques and they work, so why start messing with other, potentially more damaging products.
Of course, the best way to keep your cup / teapot clean is to wash it properly first time / every time, then no stains to build up. Easier said than done though, hence my tips and tricks above.
Good luck, and if you have any other alternative methods please let me know, I would love to try them!