Tea has been a popular afternoon practice in Europe, especially in England, for centuries. The practice of sitting down for hot tea with some sort of finger food (tea cakes, dainty trifles, etc) did not become a popular practice in America until the early to mid 1800s. This practice was surrounded by showing off your social and economic status. For instance, having nicer dishes, more intricate appetizers and nicer clothes clearly stated you were a person of higher status and had the means to entertain your friends and to the tee.
The tea cups below (two different hand painted sprigware patternse) were nice dishes at the time of 1844 in Apalachicola, and might have belonged to the middle to upper class. During this time, usually the upper class would have had more intricate hand painted designs on their dishes, often with gold leaf hand painted around the edges and bases of the teacups and saucers.
It should be noted that these teacups are not for the lower class. The lower class would either not have had teacups or had plain ceramics (such a whiteware, creamware, or pearlware), with no patterns on them, especially hand painted.
First two pictures: This is the same teacup.
The last three pictures: Are fragments from different teacups with a slightly different magenta flower pattern. Notice the flowers are smaller (perhaps buds) and there are multiple flowers. Please excuse the masking tape wad in the middle of the cup, we were looking for something to hold up the fragments 🙂