Childhood tea parties have an iconic place in the modern history of play — toy tea sets have been a popular gift for encouraging creative and social play since all the way back in the 19th century, when porcelain became mass-produced. Today’s options are diverse, ranging from charming classic porcelain to eco-friendly plastic and durable wood, but some sets are safer and feature more accessories than others.
We’ve put together a run down of the best toy tea sets available, and we’re also ready to spill the tea on what makes a set ideal for your kiddo, so read on. Pinkies up, please!
In this article:
What factors should I consider when buying a toy tea set for my child?
Although tea sets may seem like fairly straightforward gifts, there are a lot of options out there ranging from the very basic to fun twists on the basics with extra accessories to enjoy. They are also available in several different materials with varying durability levels, and some sets are geared specifically toward older or younger kids.
If your child already has many play kitchen accessories, a basic tea set may be all they need, and older kids may have the motor skills and responsibility needed to care for a nicer porcelain tea set. Younger kids who are just starting out may be more likely to benefit from a plastic set with plenty of accessories that can be dropped and banged around without fear and allows room for the fine motor skill development they still need.
To summarize, focus on the big three:
- Age appropriateness: All toys, games, and gear for kids should be age-appropriate — it’s a good way to be sure a pick will be entertaining and safe. When it comes to tea sets, keeping things age appropriate means choosing safe and durable non-breakable sets for young users, while avoiding those geared toward preschoolers when buying for an older child.
- Safety: Choosing a safe tea set is a twofold decision. First, it should be made of a material that’s safe for kids to handle. Younger children often lack the dexterity for a traditional porcelain tea set, making a wooden or plastic option a better choice. However, as they may want to pretend by putting water or juice in their teacups and teapot, they should also always be made of material that’s food safe, such as BPA-free plastic and non-toxic finished wood.
- Durability: Although the most obvious component of choosing a durable tea set is picking a material that holds up to rougher play, this doesn’t absolve wood and plastic tea sets from the question of durability. A durable wood or plastic tea set should be made from thick, smooth material that doesn’t easily bend or form cracks.
In what ways can playing with a tea set benefit my child?
- Creative/pretend play: Taking on a role during pretend play is an important way that children learn empathy, acquaint themselves with basic life skills, and develop their ability to communicate. Toys like tea sets and play kitchens prompt kids to tell their own stories through play, giving them props to act out scenarios alone or with others.
- Social play: Tea sets are ideal picks for social play, and they make a great centerpiece for a play date. They inspire kids to pretend in a way that mimics a real social setting, practicing manners, taking turns, and sharing.
- Motor skill development: Carrying, placing, and pouring are all important motor skills that younger children are still working on developing, and playing with a tea set can prompt them to do all three. As they’re grasping little saucers and handles and setting up an elegant tea service, they’re also improving their dexterity.
What kinds of toy tea sets are available?
- Porcelain: Porcelain tea sets are a classic, beautiful gift that’s been at the center of many a childhood high tea, but the flip side of these sweet sets is that they’re quite vulnerable to chips and breakage because of their fragile construction. They’re lovely for older kids, but may be better off as a display item for the toddler set.
- Wood: Smooth, non-toxic, finished wooden toys are exceptionally safe for kids; most childhood favorite toys are available in wood, including tea sets. Ideal wooden tea sets are smooth and splinter-free and have the same food-friendly finish as wooden cups and plates.
- Plastic: Durable and inexpensive, there are tons of plastic tea sets available for purchase, but some are far better than others. They’re often likely to include other play kitchen accessories, so look for a set that doesn’t skimp, is too thick to bend easily, and is safe for food consumption.
Our top picks for the best toy tea sets
If you’re looking for a classic porcelain tea set that looks like it’s been pulled straight from the pages of the past, you’ll want to take a look at this lovely pick. The Pink Chintz Children’s Tea Set for Two (check price on Amazon) is enclosed in a white wicker carrying case with a gold-adorned buckle, the white floral-print porcelain pieces are nestled safely in a recessed cushion lined with pretty pink gingham chintz. They’ll find a lidded teapot, sugar and creamer set, and a tea service for two including saucers, plates, forks, and spoons in their case. It’s a beautiful gift for an older child that makes a nice upgrade from plastic sets.
What we love
- The design, which is elegant from the gingham-lined wicker case to the pristine floral-print porcelain
- It’s a real porcelain set, so it’s vulnerable to chips and breakage
She’ll be ready for a tea party anywhere with this sweet pink and white classic porcelain tea set, which is neatly packed in a wicker basket that clasps to close and has a handle for carrying. The Schylling Tea Set Basket (check price on Amazon) is decorated with tiny butterflies, includes a tea service for four including a teapot, sugar and creamer set spoons, cups, saucers, napkins, and a precious gingham tablecloth. This porcelain set is an ideal pick for older kids because of its delicate construction, but it’s safe for real food and can be washed in the dishwasher.
What we love
- It’s safe for real food, can go in the dishwasher, and comes in a sturdy wicker basket that makes for easy transportation
- It’s porcelain, so it’s vulnerable to chips and breakage
Best Budget Buy
They’ll be ready to get the (tea) party started with this budget-friendly, brightly-colored tin Fruity Tea Party Set (check price on Amazon) from Liberty Imports, which features a fun and fruity pattern that fits right into their play kitchen. It’s safe to use this set for eating and drinking, so they’ll have lots of fun serving up and sharing a snack with this 14-piece set. Up to four people can join in the party, as the colorful teapot and large serving tray are accompanied by four teacups with large and small plates.
What we love
- It’s a durable tea set they can really eat and drink with, and there are lots of fruits for them to learn about and identify
- Although kids can safely eat and drink with this set, it needs to be washed by hand, as the dishwasher can damage the cute finish
Best ecological tea set
As awareness of the far-reaching effects of climate change becomes part of the public consciousness, more and more parents are reaching for eco-conscious toys like those made by Green Toys.
The charming primary-colored Green Toys Tea Set (check price on Amazon) is made from sturdy 100% recycled plastic, and even the recycled packaging has a minimal impact on the environment. The set contains a lidded tea pot, a creamer and sugar set, and four teacups with ridged saucers and spoons. It’s suitable for food contact, and it’s dishwasher safe, so cleaning up after cucumber sandwiches and petit fours is a breeze.
At a glance
- It’s made by eco-conscious toy manufacturer Green Toys, so the environmental impact is limited
- It’s an extremely durable set that’s safe for food contact and can go in the dishwasher
Best for travel
Many toy sets used in creative play are a struggle to take along on trips and to play dates, because toting them means finding all their pieces as well as a place to stash them. Not so with the fun and funky Pretend Tea Set from Alex (check price on Amazon), which comes with its very own carrying case to make transporting the set simple. Included are a lidded teapot, four cups for tea with saucers and spoons, four larger plates, and a charming serving tray, all of which feature a pink and green floral theme with striped and polka-dotted accents.
What we love
- It’s simple to bring this set along to show and tell or a friend’s house thanks to the convenient carrying case, which latches shut and has a handle
- It features an extra set of plates and a serving tray, making it a great addition to a play kitchen
- Although kids can safely eat and drink with this set, it needs to be washed by hand, as the dishwasher can damage the finish
Best wooden tea set
We love simple wooden toys for toddlers – they don’t overstimulate, but they do prompt imagination and motor skill development. The Tender Leaf Toys Wooden Tea Tray (check price on Amazon) is an ideal introductory pick, featuring pieces made of thick, finished wood that is perfectly sized for small hands.
The daisy-themed set includes a teapot with a lid, four rosy teacups with saucers, a natural wood-toned serving spoon, a serving tray with a painted-on doily, two wooden cookies for serving, and a teabag they can pretend to dunk to their heart’s content.
What we love
- It’s a perfect size for kids around age 3, with designs that are appropriate for their motor skills
- Real food and drinks shouldn’t be used with this set
Best magical tea set
When a tea party combines with a teaching tool that’s ideal for toddlers, a perfect first tea set is born! Fisher-Price are experts at toys that encourage healthy, age-appropriate child development, and the magical teapot in this set features lights, songs, and sounds that will engage your child as they learn about how to share and use their manners.
The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Tea Set (check price on Walmart) comes with a tray with five treat shapes that form a puzzle, encouraging fine motor skill development and critical thinking. Two tea cups and a sugar bowl with a lifting lid complete this set, which isn’t ideal for real food but is awesome at facilitating learning.
What we love
- It can be used for pretend tea parties, but it’s also geared toward learning, featuring songs and sounds with lessons about manners
- Real food shouldn’t be used with this set
Best ceramic tea set
Parents looking for a tea set that feels like porcelain without the high price tag will find a lot to love in this set from Toysmith, which is made of real ceramic and features a classic floral design.
The Toysmith 17-Piece Li’l Tea Tote Set (check price on Sears) features a service for four, including cups, spoons, saucers, and plates, as well as a sugar and creamer set and a charming lidded teapot, all of which come in a reusable zip-up storage case with a handle. It’s suitable for use with real food, and it’s even dishwasher safe, so snack time clean-up is low hassle — the flip side is that it’s better reserved for older kids, because ceramic is breakable.
What we love
- The set comes in a reusable zip-up storage case with a handle
- It’s safe for use with real food and drink, and can even be put in the dishwasher
- It’s ceramic, which is vulnerable to chips and breaks
Best ceramic tea set
This set is, by far, the upper echelon of the offerings on our list. The ornate The Burto Mini Porcelain Tea Set (check price on Walmart) features a beautiful vintage-style teapot, two cups with saucers, a sugar and creamer set, and a platter so lovely you’ll wish it was in your kitchen and not theirs.
The white-trimmed set is adorned and classic illustrations of flowers creating a timeless look that could fit in easily at the fanciest of tea parties. It’s a beautiful but delicate pick that’s ideal for older children, and can look beautiful on display when they’ve outgrown playing with the set.
What we love
- The vintage design, which is leaps and bounds more elegant than most children’s tea sets
- It’s porcelain, so it’s vulnerable to chips or breakage
And our winner is…
Combining value with quality, the Pink Chintz Children’s Tea Set for Two (check price on Amazon) is a perfect pick for her first porcelain tea set. The charming white wicker basket makes storing and transporting the set easy, and the floral accents of the plates and cups are a classic design choice. The pink gingham lining and picnic basket-style storage of the set inside the basket add even more charm to this kit, which can be used for real tea times and will become a quick favorite.