At first, the tea basket was a utensil to collect and store tea made of bamboo. In the Qing Dynasty, it was also used to store teawares, similar to teaware containers mentioned in Lu Yu’s The Classic of Tea.
Gao Lian, a dramatist in the Ming Dynasty, enjoyed the sights of mountain and rivers and loved tea and teawares. In order to make drinking tea conveniently outside, Gao Lian designed a basket with handle himself. This was the tea basket. It had the tea pot, stove and charcoal inside, so people could enjoy tea at any time in any place. In ordinary days, it could be used to set teawares. In the Qing palace, drinking tea was very popular. Thus various teawares were welcomed by them. Emperor QianLong was very fond of tea. He had several tours in the south. In order to make it easy to take, he asked people to make a whole set of teaware which was convenient for tours. In addition, he also asked people to design tea basket (also called teaware box) to store all the teawares, including the tea pot, tea bowls, tea jar, stove and water wares. The tea baskets in the Imperial Palace were either made of rosewood only or bamboo together with wood. These tea baskets were delicate and each one was a very creative piece of art work.