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Chinese Tea Set vs English Tea Set: Tea Set For Adults

May 21,2024 | TeaTsy Team

Chinese tea set focuses on the process of making tea and the delicate taste of the tea and usually consists of multiple small utensils such as teapots, teacups, and tea plates. 

English tea sets, on the other hand, are more social and ceremonial, and usually consist of a larger teapot, teacups, and matching sugar bowl and milk jug.

Both types of tea sets are suitable for adults. In this article, we explore the differences between the two different tea cultures.

What is a Chinese Tea Set

A Chinese tea set is a group of utensils and vessels designed specifically to prepare and serve traditional Chinese tea. These sets are an integral part of the practice of Gong Fu tea, a ceremonial and highly refined method of making tea. 

Chinese Tea Set vs English Tea Set

The basic components of a Chinese tea set for adults:

Teapot: The centerpiece of a Chinese tea set, usually made of materials such as Yixing clay, porcelain or glass. The teapot is used to make tea, and its design varies greatly depending on the regional style and type of tea.

Teacups: Teacups are small cups used to hold the tea. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and usually have no handles.

Fairness Cup:A fairness cup is a vessel that is used in order to pour brewed tea into and then share with others. The main function of the fairness cup is to create an equal distribution of tea so that everyone partaking in the ceremony receives an equal portion of the brewed tea.

Tea Tray: a tray used to hold a teapot, teacups, and other utensils. It usually has a built-in drainage system to catch spills and excess water, keeping the tea area clean and organized.

Tea Strainer: A small strainer placed above the teapot to filter out any loose tea leaves or particles when pouring tea from the teapot.

Tea Clips: Used to handle hot cups and tea lids to ensure cleanliness and safety during the tea ceremony.

Tea Caddy: a container used to store loose tea leaves to maintain their freshness and aroma.

Tea Towel: a small cloth used to wipe up spills and keep the tea set dry and clean.

What is GongFu Tea

GongFu Tea, also known as GongFu Cha, is a traditional Chinese method of tea preparation that emphasizes skill, precision, and artistry. The term "GongFu"  means "skill" or "effort," reflecting the meticulous and refined techniques used in this tea ceremony. This method originated in the Chaoshan region of Guangdong Province and has become popular throughout China and beyond.

Gongfu tea is usually made from high quality loose leaf teas such as Oolong tea, Pu'er tea, and sometimes green or black tea.

Gongfu tea requires specific tea utensils to facilitate brewing. For example, the common

Yixing Purple Clay Pot, Gaiwan.

How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea in a Gaiwan?

The Gongfu Tea Ceremony is a demonstration of skill and artistry. Precise control of water temperature, time, and brewing techniques. The preparation of Gung Fu tea involves several steps:

  1. Preheating the Gaiwan

Preheat the gaiwan by adding freshly boiled water to it in order to maintain the temperature of the tea leaves during the brewing process. After that, pour the water into a waste water bowl.

  1. Add Tea

Adjust the amount of tea to suit the type of tea. For lighter teas, add about 20% to the bowl; for heavier teas, add up to 60%.

  1. Rinse Tea Leaves

For roasted oolongs and pu-erhs, cover the tea leaves with freshly boiled water and pour it off immediately to help "wake up" the tea leaves, remove dust, and prepare the tea leaves to release their aroma.

  1. Formal Brewing

Add hot water again until the water level is slightly above the rim of the covered bowl. Cover with the lid, making sure the lid is slightly above the rim to create a seal and lock in the aroma.

  1. Pouring

Before pouring, gently adjust the lid to allow room for pouring and straining the tea. Then, holding the bowl and lid firmly in your hands, tilt and pour into the prepared tea canister.

Antique Style Gaiwan

  1. Dispensing

Pour the tea leaves from the canister evenly into each tea cup to ensure that each tea taster gets the same strength of tea.

  1. Multiple Brews

Place the tea leaves in a covered bowl and add hot water for multiple brews depending on the type of tea. Each brewing time can be extended appropriately.

What is an English Tea Set

An English Tea Set is a complete tea set used for English afternoon tea. The set usually includes components such as a teapot, teacups, saucers, sugar bowls, milk jugs, and tea trays.

  • Teapot: Used for making and pouring tea, it is usually beautifully designed and has a moderate capacity.
  • Teacups and saucers: come in pairs, the teacups are used for drinking tea, and the saucers are used to hold the teacups and prevent spills and burns.
  • Sugar Bowl: Used to hold sugar cubes or granulated sugar.
  • Milk Jug: Used to pour in milk to flavor the tea.
  • Tea Tray: Used to hold the entire tea set, making it easy to carry and display.

English tea sets are usually made of fine china or bone china, decorated with elegant patterns and motifs that reflect British tradition and craftsmanship.

There is also our common English tea set for adults. It is a complete tea set designed for adults (as shown above).

English tea sets for adults are not only used at formal afternoon tea parties but also at family gatherings and small gatherings of friends, as a way to show off the owner's taste and lifestyle.

What is British Tea

British Tea refers to a culture and way of drinking tea, like the above mentioned GongFu Cha. British Tea includes various types of tea leaves, tea brewing methods, and tea-drinking habits.

In Britain, one of the most famous tea-drinking habits is Afternoon Tea, along with Morning Tea and High Tea.

English Tea Set Tea

Types of tea commonly drunk in the UK include:

  • Earl Grey
  • Assam
  • Darjeeling
  • English Breakfast Tea

How to make British Tea with an English Tea Set?

How To Make British Tea

In the process of using an English tea set to make tea, there are many other things to pay attention to, such as the temperature of the water, the steps to make tea and so on, the following will step by step introduce you to how to correctly use the English tea set to make tea.

Step 1: Preheat the Teapot

Boil 212°F (100°C) water in an electric kettle or on the stovetop. Pour a small amount of hot water into the teapot and turn the teapot to get the water flowing. This will preheat the teapot and keep the tea hot for a longer period of time.

Step 2: Add The Tea Leaves

Generally speaking, English teas are usually made from black tea leaves and are often referred to simply as "black tea".

And English teas are stronger than most American teas, containing more bitterness and caffeine. Some of the more classic varieties include Earl Grey and breakfast tea. 

Typically, use one teaspoon of tea leaves per cup of tea brewed, and add an extra teaspoon to the pot to ensure a thicker tea.

Step 3: Steep The Tea

Pour hot water over the tea leaves, covering them completely. Allow the tea leaves to steep for an appropriate amount of time. Generally, black tea should steep for about 3-5 minutes, but you can adjust the time depending on how strong you like your tea.

Step 4: Strain and Cup

When using loose leaf tea, if your teapot does not have a built-in strainer, use an external strainer when pouring the tea into the cup.

Step 5: Add Sugar Cubes or Milk

Due to the strength and bitterness of English teas, milk or sugar is often used to dilute and enhance the overall flavor of the tea. You can add the right amount of milk or sugar to suit your personal preference. However, always add the tea before adding the milk.

Step 6: Enjoy

In the UK, cookies, cakes, muffins, and other pastries are often served with tea, especially when having tea with friends or family.

English Tea Sets vs Chinese Tea Sets

There are some differences between each style of tea set because they have their own unique cultural heritage and tea-drinking tradition. Below is a brief description of the differences between English tea sets and Chinese tea sets:

Design and Aesthetics

English Tea Set: English tea sets are usually made of porcelain or bone china and feature elaborate designs with floral motifs, gilded edges, and intricate detailing. Tea sets usually include teapots, stemmed teacups, tea trays, as well as milk jugs and sugar pots.

Chinese Tea Ware: Chinese tea sets are generally made from materials such as porcelain, terra cotta (especially Yixing terra cotta), and even glass. The exterior design tends to be more minimalist, focusing on the natural beauty of the materials. Chinese tea sets usually include smaller teapots and stemless teacups.

Tea Making Tips

English Tea Set: Preheat the teapot, then add tea leaves to the teapot and pour boiling water into the teapot to steep. Also, it should be drunk with milk and sugar.

Chinese Tea Ware: Preparation is very meticulous, the process of brewing tea requires several short brews of tea leaves to extract various flavors and aromas through temperature control and timing.


English Tea Set: A standard English tea set consists of a large teapot, teacups with handles, a tea tray, and other items such as a sugar bowl and milk jug. Ideal for serving tea to multiple people at the same time.

Chinese Tea Set: Usually comes with a smaller teapot and smaller handleless teacups. Typically, it is suitable for one person only. Some tea sets come with a tea tray and other items such as incense cups.

If you need a new Chinese tea set or Japanese tea set, visit Teatsy where we offer a wide selection of tea sets to choose from.

Here are some suggestions to help you choosing the perfect tea set.


By reading this article, you can get a better understanding of how to make tea using an English tea set.

If you are interested in making tea, please visit TeaTsy, where we offer the best selection of Chinese tea sets and Japanese tea sets for you to choose from.