The Best English Tea Set
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8 English Tea Set Alternatives
Table of Contents
What Is an English Tea Set?
The formal tea set originated in China. Used for medicinal purposes, early Chinese tea sets consisted of bowls rather than a teapot and cups. In later centuries China developed the Yixing tea set, which includes a teapot and cups as well as a tray, sieve, brush, and other tools. Yixing tea sets are still popular, often sold as either Chinese or Japanese tea sets, since the tradition carried over to China’s island neighbor.
An English tea set is derived from the French silver tea service. A traditional French silver tea service contained a teapot, a coffee pot for guests who preferred coffee to tea, bowls for cream and sugar, a tea caddy for storing dry tea leaves before they were brewed, and a waste bowl for depositing tea leaves after the tea was brewed. Some French tea sets came with a coordinating silver tray, but this piece was not considered essential.
In the Victorian era, the English began to use bone china rather than silver to make tea sets. At this time, manufacturer began to create matching patterns. Households could purchase a tea set and then expand it later by purchasing matching pieces. Trays were traditionally considered part of an English tea set, although modern tea sets may not include a tray.
English tea sets vary in the exact number of pieces included, but generally contain a tea pot, bowls for sugar and cream, a tea caddy for storing the dry tea leaves before they’re brewed, and a waste bowl for depositing the used leaves after the tea is brewed.
How to Choose an English Tea Set
Bear these considerations in mind when choosing the English tea set that’s right for you.
1. How many will you be serving?The Victorian English tea set was designed for the purpose of serving a family or a social gathering. A servant would carry the tray to the room where tea was to be taken, whether this was a sitting room where guests were gathered, the family dining room, or (less formally) a lady’s boudoir or a gentleman’s study.
You probably don’t expect your tea to be brought to you on a tray by a servant, but you probably have an idea of whether you’ll be using the tea set yourself, with your family, or on special occasions when guests are present. If you are the only tea drinker, you might be satisfied with a tea set consisting only of a pot, two cups, and two saucers.
On the other hand, if you plan to host large gatherings and use the tea set to serve those, you’ll probably need a more complete set that includes cream and sugar dishes, and you’ll want to be sure you can add coordinating cups to your set until you arrive at the number of cups you need.
Will this tea set be used by children?
“Tea party” is a favorite game of many children. Sets for children may be made of highly durable materials such as plastic, which children are unlikely to crack or chip. If nothing less than the real thing will do, however, various manufacturers do make child-sized tea sets made of traditional materials, such as porcelain.
2. What type of tea will you serve?
Different types of tea brew best in different pots. A Victorian English family would generally brew hot black tea (perhaps imported from India or Sri Lanka, though Sri Lanka would have been called Ceylon at the time) served with sugar and either milk or cream. The English tea set is designed to be used with black tea, which can be steeped for various lengths of time depending on the drinker’s strength preference.
Other types of tea don’t work as well in an English-style teapot. Oolong tea, for example, is best when brewed in a traditional Yixing tea pot. Green teas, which can easily become bitter when the water is too hot or when steeped too long, are best served from a small pot that makes 1-2 cups that can be poured as soon as the tea is brewed without extra tea left over.
3. Do you want a new or vintage tea set?
English tea sets from the Victorian era rarely survived intact into the 21st century due to the delicate nature of the bone china pieces. However, many beautiful tea sets from England, the United States, and other countries were produced in the 20th century that offer collectors the chance to own and use something historical, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.
These can be found on websites that offer vintage goods, but one must be careful when buying online that the seller can be trusted to pack and ship the tea set properly. Buying from antiques dealers, flea markets, and yard sales is another option, allowing you to oversee packing and shipping yourself.
One caveat about antique ceramic ware: Before the 20th century, ceramic glazes were often made with a level of lead that would be considered unacceptable today. Before drinking out of any ceramic vessel that was made before the late 20th century, you may have to have a sample of the tea set tested for lead to make sure it’s safe for regular use. Lead is especially dangerous for children. If in doubt, use antique tea sets for their decorative value and use a modern tea set for brewing and drinking tea.
Top Rated English Tea Sets
If you're looking into finding the best rated english tea set, you should probable check out the Jusalpha white China Cup and Saucer Coffee Cup Set. We looked at various sources of reviews and found this one to have the best mix between review count and average rating stars.
The Lowest Price We Could Find
Often, going for the best price is a simple but good option. With a price of $26.34 (last checked this morning), we do not list any other english tea set cheaper than the Royal Albert Old Country Roses Teacup & Saucer Set. Just remember that it's not always the best option to go for the cheapest one.
The English Tea Set With the Most Reviews
With at least 309 reviews and counting, the Jusalpha white China Cup and Saucer Coffee Cup Set might be another option to consider. This large amount of reviews signalizes that many people are using it, with most of them beeing satisfied.
The English Tea Set With the Most Clicks
If you trust us and our users, feel free to check out the Lenox Butterfly Meadow 8-Piece Set. Our statistics say that it is the most favorite English Tea Set from the list above.
If you're still undecided, I would recommend that you go with the masses and choose the top selling english tea set: The Lenox Butterfly Meadow 8-Piece Set is the hottest bestseller in this category right now.
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