There are obvious differences between a mug and a cup in terms of shapes, materials, sizes and styles, but one of the main ones is that a cup is usually used with a saucer and a mug without it. However, I personally think the differences go a bit further…
For me a mug is synonymous of comfort; it is the experience of just making the usual cup of tea –even sometimes half awake, half asleep- early in the mornings. It is also the choice for a lazy Sunday when you are reading the newspaper of just checking emails, staying late in bed and having a tasty brunch. I pick a mug when it is cold outside and I need a big “cup of tea” to warm me up or when I want to carry it with me while working around the house.
I choose a cup when I want to think about my tea, when I want the experience of drinking it to be special and delicate. It is like a boost as it definitely makes it taste better. A cup involves choosing the “right” one for that special tea or occasion and then serving it. It is a more sophisticated pleasure I guess. In a cup every sip counts, the brightness and the sound of the porcelain make everything even more special.
Cups and mugs are there to please our palate and mood, as they are a great complement to our tea. I believe that, although it might feel automatic, we are very careful about our choice, as we know it will “define” the way we drink and enjoy our tea.