Porcelain is a hard, durable, fine-grained, nonporous ceramic ware that originated in China. It is very white and unlike most other types of ceramic ware, it is also translucent. This characteristic is of value when steeping tea because it allows a tea enthusiast to discern and appreciate the color of the steeped liquor more easily than most other materials.
Bone china is a special type of porcelain. Because of its precise clay formula, bone china is finer, more thinly-walled, lighter in weight, and even more translucent than porcelain. Many consider it the most perfect material for glazed tea wares.
A classic example of this medium is the ‘rice-pattern ware’ aka ‘rice grain porcelain’, that has been very popular both in East Asia and the West for at least one hundred years.
A porcelain or bone china teapot is suitable for steeping any type of tea – a teapot made of either of these materials is fully-glazed inside and so is impervious to absorbing flavors from the tea being steeped within it.
The minimal maintenance required for this material is either just a quick rinse to wash away traces of the most recently steeped tea or a more thorough washing, being careful to not scrub the surface and cause scratching in the glaze.