According to records, the history of the tea set in China began during the Han Dynasty. In early times, the tea set had two styles. In northern regions, people used a white porcelain tea set, while people in the South used a light blue porcelain tea set. However, the earliest tea set just consisted of a bowl and was not so delicate.
The teapot is a very crucial element of a modern tea set, which is believed to have developed and widely spread during the Song Dynasty. At present, a tea set often includes several tea wares such as a teapot, tea bowl, Cha Hai (a large tea tray made of tree roots, bamboo, or stone with often exquisite carving designs), Gaiwan (tea bowl with cover), teacup and other tea accessories.
Yixing Tea Set
The most famous tea set in China is the Yixing tea set, which is made from purple clay and is called Zi Sha Hu (purple clay pottery teapot). Yixing is a city in Jiangsu province and is famous for its pottery. Yixing still produces the best purple clay pottery tea set in China to this day and has done since the Ming Dynasty.
The purple clay pottery teapot was regarded as the best tea set as after being heated, purple clay maintains its porosity which helps the aroma and flavour of the tea be as strong as possible.
In modern times, the Yixing purple clay tea set is not only a perfect ware for tea-drinking, but also becomes a popular collectable on a worldwide scale. People from all over the world want to get their hands on an antique Yixing tea set.
Blue and White Porcelain Tea Sets
Blue and white porcelain tea sets have been one of the most popular tea set styles in China since the Northern Song Dynasty. It's made from white porcelain under the glaze and is decorated with a blue pigment. During Yuan and Ming Dynasty, the blue and white porcelain tea set rapidly developed and then paced into its golden age in Qing Dynasty. The best blue and white porcelain tea set was made in Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province during the Yuan Dynasty.
Famous Tea Set Kilns
Besides Yixing Kiln and Jingdezhen Kiln, there were a number of famous tea set kilns made during Chinese history. For instance, Yue Kiln in Zhejiang was established in the Han Dynasty and specifically produced celadon. Xing Kiln in Hebei was established in the Sui Dynasty and became popular in the Tang Dynasty, which mainly produced ceramic white ware.
In the Song Dynasty, there emerged five major tea set kilns, which were Ru Kiln (the Royal Kiln of the Nothern Song Dynasty), Jun Kiln, Ding Kiln, Ge Kiln and the Royal Kiln of the Southern Song Dynasty.