Ceramic Tea Set Review
Porcelain Teaware Compared

From red clay to porcelain, a ceramic tea set offers a huge varieties of colors and designs. Here I review a traditional Brown Betty and a Botanic Blue tea set.

The Wikipedia defines the word "ceramic" as derived from the Greek word keramikos, referring to inorganic and non-metallic materials which are formed by the action of heat.

So when we talk about the ceramic teaware, it really encompasses the entire spectrum of non metallic teaware, which includes teaware made of clay, bone china and porcelain.

Ceramic tea sets were first made in China during the Han Dynasty, which lasted from 206-220 BC. These tea sets were made of porcelain, but they were strikingly different in appearance from the tea sets of today.

Instead of the familiar assembly of a tea pot, cups, trays, saucers and assorted other dishes, these ancient tea sets consisted of bowls for both brewing and serving the tea.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the first tea pot was made in Yixing, China, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D). The ceramic tea set continued to evolve as tastes changed over the centuries in China.

Brown Betty Tea Pot

After tea became all the rage in Europe, Europeans clamored for tea pots of their own.

The first tea pots in Europe came from China, since Europe didn’t have the right technology to make a good quality tea set. Europe’s desire to produce tea sets instead of importing them led to a couple of important discoveries.

In 1695, a special type of red clay was discovered in Stokes-on-Trent in England.

This red clay produced sturdy tea pots that retained heat wonderfully, and the tea pots produced from it became known as Brown Betty tea pots.

The traditional Brown Betty Teapot with Cups is still beloved today, as the red clay and the distinctive shape brew up a wonderful cup of tea.

Porcelain tea pots

The second important discovery was the process for manufacturing porcelain, a secret China had jealously guarded. In 1710, craftsmen in Germany finally figured it out for themselves.

The traditional European 6-piece ceramic tea set reached its final form during the Victorian Age, and consists of tea pot, tea kettle, coffee pot, sugar bowl, creamer pot and a waste bowl to hide used tea bags and those unsightly squeezed-out pieces of lemon.

However, in today’s global marketplace, you can get tea sets from just about anywhere, ranging from Chinese Yixing sets to Korean Celadon to fine British China.

They can be extremely expensive, but you don’t have to pay through the nose to get a good value.

Botanic Blue Teacup and Saucer Set

If you are looking for something a little more British, this Botanic Blue Teacup and Saucer Set available from Amazon.com is another good choice.

Although this set only has service for two, you can expand it by buying additional cups and saucers.

Further Tips

When looking for tea sets, look for products that are attractive and well-made. For example, make sure the lid fits firmly on the tea pot, and that the spout doesn’t dribble (most annoying, especially in front of guests!)

Also, if you are as clumsy as I am, the ability to order replacement pieces for your tea set may be an important consideration!

Do you have to worry about lead in ceramic? I recommend getting something that says it is lead-free. Here is something to think about.

Lead in Ceramic and Porcelain Cup (Gaiwan) - Safe or Danger?

Finally, think about how often you will be using the tea set, and under what conditions.

Delicate china is probably best for guests and special occasions, while a sturdy clay set may be better for everyday. Whatever you are looking for, there is certain to be a ceramic tea set that meets your needs!

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