– extra small, porcelain : for savouring fine teas such as gyokuro
– medium: for sencha
– large, earthenware: for genmaicha, hojicha, bancha, kukicha, which can be easily drunk in large quantities
Furthermore, gyokuro is brewed at 50°C (high-grade gyokuro) or 60°C (medium-grade), so it won’t be too hot to hold thin, fine porcelain cups. On the other hand, genmaicha, hojicha, bancha, kukicha are brewed with boiling water, so thick earthenware pots & cups which retain heat are better.
To stock my kitchen cupboard quickly and very cheaply, I headed to Daiso. [7/9/07 update: Oyamake Stoneware from Kobe blog about ceramic dishware in Daiso.] I felt giddy by the time I had chosen two different earthenware designs & sizes of cups from among the dozens of types available (Made in China, Made in Thailand, Made in Vietnam and also 日本製 Made in Japan!) – all at $2 a piece of course! pretty functional and attractive.
(The bamboo coasters and plastic tray also from Daiso.)
One of my earthenware teapots, which the teacups go nicely with. Japanese teapots with metal mesh infuser inside can sometimes be found for $10-$15 on sale at Isetan (and in the past Daimaru too).This is the Arita-Yaki porcelain set (total of 5 teacups) I already had from before, just nice for sencha, with clear white insides to enjoy the colour of the tea. $25 at Isetan and Takashimaya :).
1/12/07 update: see my new glass tea cups here.