Connect with us


The Best Materials for Chinese Tea Sets



As an avid tea drinker, you understand that the vessel you use to steep and serve your tea is just as important as the tea leaves themselves. When it comes to traditional Chinese tea sets, the options for materials are plentiful, from delicate porcelain to sturdy ceramic. However, not all materials are equally suited for the art of tea. The ideal Chinese tea set material enhances the flavor and aroma of the tea, maintains the proper temperature, and is also pleasing to handle and behold. In this article, we explore the most popular and time-honored materials for crafting exquisite Chinese tea sets so you can determine which is most suitable for your tea-drinking needs and sensibilities.

Porcelain vs. Bone China: Understanding the Key Differences

When choosing a material for a Chinese tea set, two of the most popular options are porcelain and bone china. Both are beautiful and functional, but there are some key differences to consider:


Porcelain is made from kaolin clay and feldspar and fired at very high temperatures, around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. This process creates a non-porous, durable material that is chip- and stain-resistant. Porcelain tea sets are often ornately decorated and can be quite affordable. However, lower quality porcelain may contain impurities that can affect the taste of the tea. Higher-end porcelain tea sets are usually perfectly safe and help enhance the tea drinking experience.

Bone China

Bone china is made from kaolin clay, feldspar, and bone ash. The bone ash, which is made from cattle bones, gives bone china a distinctive milky white appearance and increases durability. Bone china tea sets are prized for their beauty and translucence but tend to be more expensive. The bone ash can also influence the flavor of some teas in subtle ways that many tea connoisseurs appreciate. However, bone china may develop hairline cracks over time and requires more delicate handling.

In the end, both porcelain and bone china make wonderful materials for Chinese tea sets. Porcelain may be better for casual use while bone china is ideal for special occasions. Whichever you choose, be sure to select a high-quality set from a reputable brand to ensure years of enjoyable tea drinking. By understanding the differences between these two classic materials, you can find a tea set that perfectly suits your needs, preferences and budget.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Tea Set Materials

When choosing a material for a Chinese tea set, there are several factors to consider:

Porcelain and Bone China

Porcelain and bone china are classic, elegant materials for tea sets. Porcelain, made from kaolin clay, is non-porous, durable, and heat-resistant. Bone china, which contains bone ash, is also non-porous but more translucent and chip-resistant. However, both can be expensive, especially antique or hand-painted sets.


Glass tea sets are an affordable, stylish option but more fragile and not ideal for extremely hot teas as the heat can cause cracks. Double-walled glass helps prevent burns while retaining heat. Glass allows you to see the tea and is easy to clean but not portable. Look for tempered or borosilicate glass which is more durable.

Yixing Clay

Yixing clay, from Jiangsu province, is considered the ideal material for brewing oolong and pu’erh teas. The clay is porous, naturally seasoning over time and improving the flavor of teas. However, the clay is not dishwasher or microwave safe and requires hand washing. Yixing tea sets can also be expensive, depending on the clay quality and craftsmanship.

Additional Considerations

Also consider your budget, tea preferences, ease of care and if you want an antique or modern set. A high-quality set, properly cared for, can last a lifetime and become an heirloom. Do some research on trusted brands and sellers, especially for expensive or antique sets, to ensure authenticity and value. With the right material and style for you, a Chinese tea set can provide years of enjoyment and enrich your tea brewing experience.

Identifying Marks and Labels on Fine China Tea Sets

Fine china tea sets are prized for their beauty and craftsmanship. To identify the quality and provenance of a tea set, check for markings that indicate the material, brand, and place of origin.


Porcelain tea sets are considered the finest. Look for markings like “bone china” or “fine china” to indicate porcelain material. The word “china” itself refers to porcelain. High-quality porcelain will be translucent and emit a clear ringing tone when tapped. Porcelain tea sets originate from China or England.

Brand Names

Prestigious brands like Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, and Spode are indicators of fine quality and craftsmanship. Wedgwood is a renowned English brand established in 1759. Royal Doulton is also a prestigious English company founded in 1815. Spode is an iconic English brand that helped popularize bone china. Brand names may be printed on the underside of pieces.

Made In Labels

The location of origin often signifies the quality and style. “Made in England” indicates an elegant English tea set. “Made in China” suggests a classic Chinese style. Within China, places like Jingdezhen are known for the finest porcelain. Brands will specify the precise location of origin and production.

Additional Marks

Look for markings like a crown, lion or orb symbol which indicate royal warrants of appointment. A date or era mark signifies when the set was made. An individual craftsman’s mark is a hallmark of handcrafted quality. Gold or platinum trim and hand-painted details also indicate a high-quality set.

You May Also Like  Risks of Staking Crypto

By checking for these identifying marks and labels, you can determine the material, brand, origin and era of a fine china tea set. With this knowledge, you can properly care for, value and appreciate a prized tea set.

Top Porcelain Tea Set Brands From China

Among the most prestigious porcelain tea set brands from China are:

Gong Fu Cha

Gong Fu Cha is a highly revered brand that produces high-quality porcelain tea sets. Their products are renowned for superior craftsmanship and artistic designs inspired by Chinese culture. Some of their most well-known collections include the Blue and White Porcelain series featuring classic motifs, and the Ru Kiln series with a rustic antique finish. Gong Fu Cha tea sets are moderately priced, ranging from $50 to $300 depending on the collection and number of pieces.

Tang Ying Chinaware

Tang Ying is a reputable brand that has been producing fine chinaware for over 50 years. They are known for innovative and contemporary designs that incorporate traditional Chinese elements. Their products also use high-grade porcelain clay and glazes to achieve a delicate and translucent quality. Some recommended collections are the Floral series with colorful flower motifs and the Zen series with a minimalist style. Tang Ying tea sets tend to range from $100 to $500.

Wedgwood China

Wedgwood is a prestigious English brand that also offers high-quality porcelain tea sets inspired by Chinese designs. Wedgwood china is renowned for its flawless craftsmanship, beauty and durability. Their Oriental-themed collections feature motifs such as pagodas, dragons and cherry blossoms. Although Wedgwood tea sets are at a premium price point, ranging from $200 up to $2000 and beyond for their most intricate sets, their china is considered an investment and heirloom-quality.

Tea Set Box

Tea Set Box is a leading authority in Chinese tea sets, and its website is It offers a wide range of premium tea sets sourced from China, including Chinese-style tea sets, Japanese tea sets, and English afternoon tea sets. Tea Set Box is renowned for the diversity, high quality, and aesthetic appeal of its tea products. One of its standout features is the Blue and White porcelain series. Despite the exceptional quality of Tea Set Box’s tea sets, they are affordably priced, ranging from $100 to $300, making them accessible compared to similar sets on other platforms that often cost twice as much.

When selecting a porcelain tea set, consider factors like your budget, the number of pieces needed, the desired design and style, as well as the reputation and quality of the brand. With proper care and occasional use, a fine porcelain tea set can provide many years of tea enjoyment and become a cherished part of your collection.

Care and Maintenance Tips for Porcelain China Tea Set

To properly care for your porcelain china tea set, follow these maintenance tips:

Hand Wash Only

Porcelain china is not dishwasher safe and should be hand washed after each use. Gently wash each piece in warm, soapy water using a soft sponge or cloth. Rinse well with water to remove all soap residue and air dry completely upside down on a rack away from direct heat. The high heat and harsh detergents of a dishwasher can cause crazing, fading, and damage to the delicate glaze and patterns.

Avoid Abrasive Cleaners

Do not use abrasive cleaners, strong detergents, or abrasive sponges which can scratch the surface. Baking soda is a natural and gentle alternative for stuck-on stains. For stubborn stains, soak the item in a diluted bleach solution (one part bleach to three parts water) for no more than 5 minutes before washing as usual.

Prevent Chips and Cracks

Exercise caution when handling and storing your tea set. Dropping items can cause chips, cracks and breaks. Stack pieces carefully and pad with felt separators. Do not overstack heavy items on top.

Display and Storage

When not in use, display your tea set in a china cabinet away from extreme heat or cold. This will prevent damage and keep pieces dust-free. For long term storage, wrap each item individually in acid-free paper and pack in a sturdy box with dividers. Label the box with the pattern name and manufacturer in case you need replacements in the future.

Avoid Metal Polish and Silver Dip

Do not use metal polish, silver dip or any chemical dips on porcelain china. These products are designed for silver and can permanently damage the delicate glaze and decoration.

By following these care and maintenance tips, your prized porcelain china tea set will provide you with years of enjoyment and service. Proper care and handling will help retain its beauty and value, allowing you to pass it down as an heirloom for generations.


So now you have the insights to make an informed choice when purchasing a tea set to complement your tea enjoyment. Whether you opt for the delicate translucency of porcelain, the weighted luxury of bone china, or the elegant simplicity of glass, choose a material that resonates with you. Consider how the properties of each material will interact with and elevate your tea drinking experience. And be sure to choose a set from a reputable brand using high-quality, food-grade materials. With the proper care and handling, a fine Chinese tea set can become an heirloom to pass down for generations, allowing others to share in the timeless art of Chinese tea.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply