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Gong Fu Set Materials: Pros and Cons of Clay, Porcelain and Glass

As an enthusiast of Chinese tea culture, you likely know the importance of using the proper tea set for gong fu cha. Selecting the right gong fu tea set, such as the ones found on, is crucial to unlocking the full experience of this ceremonial tea practice. In your search for the ideal vessel, you will encounter sets made from clay, porcelain, and glass. Each material provides unique benefits and drawbacks. Understanding these key differences will empower you to find the gong fu tea set that aligns with your preferences and budget. With this foundation, you can fully immerse yourself in the rich traditions of gong fu tea.

What Is a Gong Fu Tea Set?


Gong fu tea sets are typically made of clay, porcelain or glass. Clay and porcelain sets are traditional and provide excellent heat retention, allowing the tea leaves to unfurl slowly, releasing their aroma and flavor. Porcelain sets are high-quality and durable. Glass sets are contemporary and allow you to see the tea leaves dancing in the pot.


Gong fu tea sets consist of a teapot and several small teacups, as gong fu cha is meant to be a shared social experience. The teapot typically has a wide base and narrow mouth to give the tea leaves maximum room to expand and move around. Fairness pitchers are used to decant the brewed tea into teacups. The set may also include tools like a tea pick for scooping spent leaves from the pot, a tea funnel for adding loose leaf tea to the pot without spilling, and a tea paddle for stirring the leaves.

Brewing Method

The gong fu method uses a high tea leaf to water ratio and multiple short steeps to produce a strong, flavorful tea. Start with about 5 grams of loose leaf tea per 4 ounce teapot. Bring water to the proper temperature for your tea type and fill the pot. Let the tea steep for around 10-15 seconds and pour the liquor into fairness pitchers, then teacups. Continue steeping the same tea leaves with additional water for up to 10 infusions. The tea will become smokey and sweet.

Using a gong fu set provides the perfect vessel for this elaborate brewing method, allowing for an immersive tea experience and a chance to appreciate the complexity of fine loose leaf tea. With the proper set up and technique, you'll be enjoying gong fu cha in no time.

Gong Fu Tea Set Materials: Clay, Porcelain, and Glass


Clay tea sets are highly prized for their natural, organic feel and excellent heat retention. Made from raw materials like zisha, zhuni, and duanni clay, these sets allow for a traditional gong fu cha experience. However, clay sets tend to be more expensive and fragile. They require gentle handling and seasoning to achieve their full flavor potential. For casual use or inexperience, clay may not be the most practical option.


Porcelain tea sets offer an elegant and affordable choice. Made from refined clay and fired at high temperatures, porcelain acquires a glassy, non-porous surface that is durable and easy to clean. Fine porcelain sets with hand-painted details can still achieve a traditional aesthetic at a lower cost than clay. However, porcelain is less insulating and may not retain heat as well for keeping tea warm. For large gatherings or casual use, porcelain tea sets are a versatile and approachable alternative to clay.


At the lower end of the price spectrum, glass tea sets provide an ultra-modern and minimalist option for gong fu cha. Borosilicate glass is non-porous, odorless, and thermal shock-resistant, though not as effective an insulator as clay or porcelain. Glass sets are a contemporary choice well-suited to urban living spaces. Their transparency also offers a unique view into the steeping process. However, glass is more prone to breaking if mishandled and may not appeal to traditionalists.

In summary, the choice of clay, porcelain or glass for a gong fu tea set comes down to your priorities - tradition, practicality, aesthetics or cost. With the variety of beautiful and functional options now available, you can confidently select a material to suit your personal tea brewing needs.

Price Ranges for Gong Fu Tea Sets

Gong fu tea sets are available at a range of price points depending on the materials used. At the lower end of the spectrum are basic sets made of glass or ceramic, which typically range from $20 to $60. These inexpensive options are ideal for those just getting started with gong fu cha, as they provide the essential components without a major investment.

Porcelain Sets

Mid-range sets made of high-quality porcelain generally range from $60 to $200. Porcelain is a traditional and popular choice for gong fu tea sets. It retains heat well and has an attractive, glossy finish. Porcelain sets in this range may include additional pieces like a tea pet or tray and often feature decorative designs that enhance the ambiance of the tea preparation and drinking experience.

Clay Sets

On the higher end are sets made of Yixing clay, which can range from $200 up to $2,000 or more for an antique set. Yixing clay is considered the premier material for gong fu tea sets. It is porous, which allows the clay to absorb the flavors and aromas of the tea over time and with repeated use. The clay also retains heat and keeps the tea warm. More elaborate Yixing sets feature intricate carvings and come with additional accessories. Due to the premium materials and craftsmanship, Yixing clay sets are an investment, but for serious tea connoisseurs, the enhanced flavor and experience are well worth the cost.

In summary, gong fu tea sets can be found at price points to suit any budget. While a basic glass or ceramic set will provide the essentials, for the ultimate gong fu cha experience, a high-quality porcelain or Yixing clay set is ideal for steeping and serving tea in style. With the variety of available materials and designs, you can choose a set tailored to your needs and personal aesthetic preferences.

The Benefits of Using a Gong Fu Tea Set

A Gong Fu tea set provides several benefits for properly preparing and enjoying tea. The components of a traditional Gong Fu set are specifically designed to maximize the flavor and aroma of the tea leaves during the steeping process.

Enhanced Flavor Extraction

The small Yixing clay teapot used in a Gong Fu set is ideal for steeping tea leaves as it allows for efficient heat retention and distribution. The porous clay material also absorbs the oils and flavors of the tea over time, enhancing the flavor of each subsequent steep. The small size of the teapot means the tea leaves have more contact with the water, resulting in a stronger, fuller flavor.

Aroma Preservation

The lid of the teapot has a small hole which allows the aroma of the steeping tea leaves to escape, while the rest of the lid contains the heat and moisture. The aroma can then be appreciated as part of the overall experience of enjoying the tea. The small cups used also concentrate the aroma, especially when empty cups are placed face down over the filled cups to capture the aroma before drinking.

Focus on the Tea Experience

The Gong Fu preparation process focuses attention on understanding and appreciating the qualities of the tea. The careful measuring and pouring, the waiting between steepings, and the sharing of the tea among smaller cups, all serve to focus attention on experiencing the unique characteristics of the tea - its color, aroma, flavor, and aftertaste. This focused approach leads to a deeper enjoyment and understanding of the subtleties of high-quality loose leaf teas.

In summary, a Gong Fu tea set provides an ideal method for maximizing the flavor, aroma, and experience of drinking premium loose leaf teas. The components work together to create an approach to tea that focuses attention, enhances enjoyment, and unlocks the subtleties of fine teas. For the tea connoisseur, a Gong Fu set is essential equipment for a proper tea preparation and tasting experience.

How to Choose the Right Gong Fu Tea Set for You

When selecting a gong fu tea set, you will need to consider several factors to determine which set is optimal for your needs. The most significant considerations are the material, size, and included pieces.


The three most common materials for gong fu tea sets are clay, porcelain, and glass. Clay and porcelain are traditional and ideal for keeping tea warm, while glass allows you to appreciate the tea's beautiful color.

Clay tea sets are typically the most affordable but require seasoning to remove any clay odor before use and are more difficult to care for. Clay retains heat well but can stain over time.

Porcelain creates a pristine set that does not impact the tea's flavor. It is non-porous, chip-resistant, and dishwasher safe. However, it may be more expensive and does not retain heat as well as clay.

Glass tea sets have a contemporary feel and allow you to see the tea steeping. However, glass does not retain heat as well, may break more easily, and often has plastic components that can affect tea flavor. Glass sets typically cost between clay and porcelain sets.

Size and Included Pieces

Gong fu tea sets typically contain a brewing vessel, drinking cups, a tea strainer or filter, a pitcher, and a tray to catch drips. Consider how many people you want to serve to determine the appropriate size. A larger set will allow you to steep more tea at once but requires more storage space.

For most people, a traditional 3 to 5 piece gong fu set with a capacity of 100 to 300 ml will suit their needs. Such a set would include a brewing vessel, 2 to 4 cups, and a serving pitcher. Additional pieces like a tea strainer, tray, and tongs can be purchased separately as needed.

In summary, selecting a gong fu tea set involves balancing your priorities for material, size, included pieces, and budget. A high-quality set that retains heat well, contains the pieces you need, suits your space constraints, and fits your budget will allow you to fully enjoy the gong fu tea experience.


As you have seen, gong fu tea sets offer a variety of beautiful and functional options to enhance your tea drinking experience. Whether you prefer the natural look of Yixing clay, the delicate translucence of porcelain, or the elegant simplicity of glass, you're sure to find a set to suit your personal taste and budget. With proper care and usage, a quality gong fu set can last a lifetime. So take your time exploring the different materials and designs. And when you're ready, choose the one that feels just right to help you unlock the full depth and nuance of your favorite teas.

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