In some countries, it is more coffee than tea, that is obvious, but this does not prevent us from accommodating different concepts related to this infusion on our website, “cousin” of coffee and enjoyed in a similar way.
To make tea, all you need is an electric kettle or at least one of the kettles we have already talked about at length on this website.
And to taste it, a tea set. A set of cups, plates and normally a pitcher, which has many similarities with our classic coffee sets, but also notable differences, as we will see below. We can also find them as tea services. And here are some examples to get you started:
What does a tea set consist of?
Tea sets differ from coffee sets mainly in their composition. All tea sets can contain cups (in some cases, glasses), which could usually also be used to drink coffee.
But what really distinguishes a tea set is the presence of the teapot or container for preparing the brew (unlike coffee sets, which only serve to drink the beverage, not to prepare it).
As is almost always the case, this has nuances. There are many types of tea sets, depending on their material, their style, but especially their origin.
And according to this last classification, tea sets can present some elements or others. For example, Arabian or Moroccan tea sets consist only of a tray and glasses with a spoon. Oriental tea sets, on the other hand, tend to place much more emphasis on teapots. These are just a few examples, but we will now discuss them all in more detail:
Chinese tea sets
There is one essential characteristic of Chinese tea sets, and that is undoubtedly the decoration. We can recognize a Chinese tea set simply by looking at its ornamental motifs based on the ancient and millenary Chinese culture.
But there is a further detail that many people do not notice: when we go to buy a Chinese tea set, we will always be taking home a set of porcelain and bone pieces. Its essential composition consists of several cups of tea (normally six) and a teapot with a filter of about 500 ml capacity, which complements the service.
Turkish tea sets
Turkish tea sets consist of spoons, glasses and coasters (the equivalent of our coffee plates), which are usually made of glass and have a fairly recognisable design. Sometimes these pieces have some silver or gold-plated decorations.
In a Turkish tea set, you may miss the teapot; as in Turkish culture, tea is usually prepared first and then served to guests in these sets. Also optional is the tray, which is usually made of silver and is an iconic element of Ottoman culture. There is not a Turkish tea set that is not served at the table on one of these trays; hence many include it directly.
Moroccan tea sets
Moroccan tea sets, and by extension Arab tea sets, look very similar to the Turkish ones we have just seen. It is not surprising to confuse them if we are not used to dealing with elements of these cultures.
A Moroccan tea set consists of a silver tray and crystal glasses. The glasses are usually profusely decorated and wired, but what most distinguishes these Arabian tea sets from Turkish ones is the presence of a small silver teapot (matching the tray).
A Moroccan tea set can be purchased in larger or smaller sizes depending on the number of glasses it contains. The tray and the teapot usually come in all, as we have already said, and the only difference will be the number of guests that can be served with the glasses. There are very small ones, with only 2 glasses (tea sets for 2) up to models with 6, 8 or even 12 glasses of tea.
As you may have noticed, in Arab and Turkish tea sets, there are no cups, only glasses.
Original tea sets
Well, enough with the classicism, right? All the outfits we have seen so far in this guide are characterised by a markedly classical air, not necessarily retro tea sets, but cut from the same cloth. In this section, however, we will talk about modern tea sets, and above all, about original tea sets.
The tea ceremony is traditionally associated with ancestral rites and deeply rooted customs in some societies. But this does not mean that there is no room for innovation and modernity in tea sets. The models presented in this section are a good proof of this:
As you can see, an original tea set can be defined by its decoration or by the form chosen for its pieces. They can also have bright colours or unconventional ornamental elements, even if they are still a set of teacups in the end.
On the other hand, a very original tea set (especially as a gift) can be a very traditional tea set. What about a real Chinese tea set, Kung Fu style?
Vintage tea sets
OK, the contrast to the previous ones is these retro tea sets or vintage air sets. Lifelong lovers will no doubt opt for this alternative, which does not necessarily have to be antique tea sets, but modern sets with classic decoration.
Another concept that defines a vintage tea set is its composition: we are talking about European tea sets, with a cup (not a glass), a saucer and a small teapot. Nothing else. Any other distribution of elements would not fit with what we traditionally know as a vintage tea set.
Classic tea sets may not appeal to us much in the first place, but they are undoubtedly more helpful and practical in the long run because they go well with any situation. We highlight the white ceramic ones, with no more adornment than the ones that can be worn in their lines (not in their design), but you can always opt for the slightly more elaborate vintage tea sets with floral motifs.
In the following gallery, you can find some examples of retro style tea sets, but in this section, more than in any other, the options are numerous, and you can say that the variety is the taste.
Porcelain Tea Sets
Let’s go now with the materials. Nobody escapes the fact that the main material used to make tea sets, just as in any other area of the home furnishings, is ceramics. We are not going to talk about the ceramic tea sets in particular since they constitute the vast majority of sets that we can see in the shops, especially if we look for cheap tea sets.
Yes, we are, from the porcelain tea sets that are normally included in the high range of this type of piece. That means they are of higher quality, more delicate, and also more expensive, of course.
Usually, a porcelain tea set will come with a traditional design and composition. These sets are an iconic instrument of European culture (who has not heard of the sacred British tea time?) and therefore do not leave much room for modernity in their aesthetics. Porcelain, my friend, is a very serious and refined thing.
Silver Tea Sets
Silver tea sets are more exclusive; they can even be considered more attractive, but they do not fit in all decorations and environments. They are more expensive and more laborious to maintain (silver has to be cleaned from time to time so that it does not get dark).
A silver tea set can be made entirely of silver or have silver on the inside walls of the cups (the outside will be made of ceramic to avoid burning our fingers when handling it). We can also find silver tea infusers or other loose elements made of this material, almost always inspired by designs from the Middle East.
If you are thinking of buying a silver tea set for your home, here we show you some options that have caught our attention:
Japanese tea sets
The classic Japanese tea set consists of glasses (not cups) and a teapot, although there are many variations. And to be more precise, we should talk about Japanese inspired tea sets. Because many of those we find on Amazon have certain Japanese motifs or are influenced by the culture there, but are far from the type of containers that are actually used to drink tea in the land of the rising sun.
Most of the ones you will see if you go to buy a Japanese tea set online are actually Japanese style tea sets. To enjoy an authentic Japanese tea set, you should opt for the spectacular cast-iron teapots. These are discussed in the next section:
Iron tea sets
These are a very particular subset of the Japanese tea sets we have seen before. All the cast iron tea sets are of Japanese origin. They are invariably composed of the iron teapot (very large and with a very characteristic shape) and a series of cups with their corresponding plates. However, not all Japanese tea sets have to be made of iron. We have already seen in the previous section some examples of ceramics.
A cast iron tea set is expensive and very heavy, but you are assured of elegance and durability—ideal for everyday use of your tea service.
Toy tea sets
The latter is not standard tea services, but even the little ones have the right to enjoy playing tea-drinking sets, right? They love doing simulations! And that’s why we have this wide variety of toy tea sets, themed with fashionable characters and perfectly complemented by the toy coffee machines we have already presented on our website.
The vast majority of these toys are aluminium tea sets for girls (mainly because of the orientation of their motifs and the predominance of pink colours). Still, some models are also made of plastic.
When buying a toy tea set for girls, we can choose from the classic characters (the ones in fashion at the time) or simpler models with bright colours and cheerful designs, which are totally timeless.
Special mention should be made of the Beauty and the Beast tea sets, inspired by a popular mug dance scene from this Disney film. Chip, the cute little cup that also appears in the film, is largely to blame for the link between the tea sets and Beauty and the Beast. Please find out more in our Beauty and the Beast teapot guide.