History tells us that tea first came into existence in China in 206 B.C. At this time, tea ware was made of porcelain and during this time, the tea set was made only of porcelain either white or light blue in color.
Later ceramics was invented and Chinese ceramic tea sets were also being made aside from porcelain. These ceramic teapots and tea bowls were usually glazed in blue, black or brown to make them exquisitely attractive for the tea ceremony.
The Yixing teapot was used early on
Although tea was discovered much earlier, historians believed that it was already in 960 AD that the teapot was used following an archaeological find of a Yixing teapot. This kind of teapots is unique in color because of a combination of iron ore in the material used and it was fired in the kiln unglazed.
Now, the Yixing tea sets are produced in different styles and forms and reflect the classic characteristic of culture and taste. It is said that a good tea set embodies the ancient art of Chinese sculpture and painting.
Because of its distinctive appearance and use, the Yixing teapot has been known worldwide and in the U.S., it is called Purple Sand teapots In China people call it Zi Sha Hu and named for the City in Jiangsu Province where it was first made.
The Chinese tea sets come in various types of materials such as porcelain, ceramics, metal, wood, etc. A rare example of a metal tea set is the gilded one possessed by Emperor Xizong of the Tang Dynasty discovered in Shaanxi Province.
Basically, the components of a Chinese Tea Set are as follows: Teapots, Teacups, Tea strainers, Tea trays, or draining trays, Tea bags and tea balls, and Tea caddies. They actually haven’t changed a lot since the olden times.
Japanese tea sets came beforehand
On the other hand, Japanese tea sets came much later but the Japanese people have easily and most naturally adapted to the Chinese tradition as if it was their own. That’s why sometimes a person not familiar to the historical facts would easily think that teapots and tea sets were originally Japanese.
So, despite the fact that China started tea drinking, Japan also developed a product of tea sets unique in design which can be identified as truly their own. Tea was eventually considered as a national beverage and the teapot a status symbol.
Japanese ceramics were produced in early time either unglazed or ash-glazed earthenwares. Glazed ware was introduced later in the Middle Ages known as Seto ware and was heavily influenced by Chinese style wares. http://www.holymtn.com/catalog/teapots-japan-ceramic-teapots-tea-ware-c-114_119
With the popularity of the Tea Ceremony during the 16th century, as the teapots and tea sets became in demand. Because of this full-scale production of porcelain was pushed towards the end of the period and towards the end of the century, brands and trademarks such as Hizen, Ko-Kutani wares, etc also came to rise.
Today, Japanese tea sets are made in different shapes and styles and come from different regions of Japan and by merely looking at them, one can hardly distinguish whether they are Japanese or Chinese wares. But antique Japanese teapots are hardly used for tea ceremony but instead placed on shelf for display.
Basically, the composition of a Japanese Tea Set is almost similar to that of a Chinese Tea Set from the Teapot, the cups, the strainer plus accessories.