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Japanese Tea Sets

Updated on June 4, 2011

Tea pot manufacturing developed into a science in Japan

Today tea is one of the most popular drinks the world over. In consumption, tea stands only second to water. What started as a local beverage for consumption in China around 200 B.C., has today, captured the spirit, mind and body of the world’s population. After being confined to China for more than 900 years, the Chinese tea travelled to Japan to capture the palates of the enterprising Japanese people. Although today, tea is the most popular drink, it took several years for the Japanese to accept it and develop this exotic drink to what it is today.

Along with their state of the art brewing technology, grew another aspect of tea – tea pots and tea sets. Tea pot manufacturing developed into a science in Japan with their ever growing innovations in making tea pots from cast iron to clay and then to ceramics.

Apart from just being a tea set, it became a part of Japanese culture, history, aesthetics and practice. As the pot is held in your left hand in Japanese tea ceremonies, the decoration is made innovatively on the side where its spout faces to your right.

Photo by Zestbienbeautouza
Photo by Zestbienbeautouza

Tetsubin is a type of antique tea pot made from cast iron in Japan

Japanese cast iron tea pots are an attraction in any home. The structure, size, shape and the quality of elaborate design works can only be done by the Japanese artisans. The tea pot design and technology had to wait in Japan, until they adopted tea as their own drink. Once tea became popular, many regions of Japan became centres for tea pot design. Their inimitable art works and technology in tea pot design created pots with incised and excised features, distinct designs, colour variations and unusual handles and unique embellishments. Tetsubin is a type of antique tea pot made from cast iron in Japan. This has a ceramic interior and flame resistant exterior. The interior enamel protects the hot tea from getting a metallic taste while brewing. Today tea sets are status symbols in Japanese houses.

Photo by JoshBerglund
Photo by JoshBerglund

Antique tea pots and tea sets of Japan

In many countries, tea is considered as just a beverage. But in Japan where brewing and drinking is a status symbol, serving is an art, as serving is done in such a way that it captures the flavour and smell of the beverage for a long time in specially designed tea pots.

Antique tea pots and tea sets of Japan are very expensive. Satsuma pottery of Japan is world famous for its earthen ware tea sets. Invariably, these tea sets will have 20 pieces. They are tastefully hand painted by trained Japanese women. The price may be beyond the imagination of even an ordinary wealthy person, but the quality and brand adequately meet the price, a fact only a connoisseur or a collector of such antique pieces of valuable items may understand.

If you are an avid collector of Japanese art or other collectibles, tea sets can be an excellent addition. Most people have multiple Japanese tea sets that they use both for casual use and for formal use. Depending on the kind of gathering that you are going to have at your home, and the kind of tea you are going to serve to your guests, you may choose one kind of tea set over another. Some people choose to keep their tea sets in a display cabinet or hutch, where they are protected but still able to be displayed. Whatever your style is for tea sets, there are a lot of beautiful and hand crafted Japanese tea sets that are available to start collecting.

Cast Iron Teapots

Owning and collecting tea sets

If you want to learn more about collecting Japanese tea sets and about the culture and history of making them, you can search online for resources. There are a lot of web sites where you can find out a lot of information about what to look for when selecting a tea set, which ones hold the most value and the different materials that are used in making each tea set. Tea has long been a strong cultural activity in Japan, and you can bring that tradition into your home and your gatherings by owning and collecting tea sets. If you get the chance to check out an antique show, or other trade show that exhibits Japanese art and collectibles, you can see all of the different styles and types of tea sets that are available. You can talk to other collectors and see what kinds of things they look for when they are picking out their selections and get some advice on what is valuable.


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    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 8 years ago from Delaware

      Loved the information about cast iron tea pots since my best friend loves tea. Thanks for a great hub and amazon ads that accompany it.

    • The Old Hack profile image

      The Old Hack 8 years ago

      Good hub. Well written, informative and a subject close to my heart, as I drink about eight pints of tea a day.

    • profile image

      Tea Japanese 8 years ago

      Great article! I just got back from the Philly Muesum of Art and still in awe of the craftsmanship of some of the tea utensils and tools.