I've been using a bamboo tray for 3 or 4 years now. It's 25 x 16 x 6 cm for 500 gram net weight. I find it a very practical tool for everyday gongfu cha. Its functions are:
- Water container: The water that gets spilled drips below through the openings and keeps your teapot and cups relatively dry.
- Tray: it's small, light (500 gram) and easy to carry with you after you've prepared your tea where the hot water is and you want to drink it somewhere else.
- Silence: The bamboo wood absorbs the sounds of the porcelain cups and clay teapots when you put them back on the tray. This helps create a peaceful atmosphere. (A porcelain or metallic tray/table is much more noisy).
- Decoration: When you don't use it, the simple design of this bamboo tray can become a decorative enhancement to display your teapot and cups.
In the following picture, you can see the effect of time and use on my old tray (below) and compare it with a new tray (above). The constant soaking of tea has made the bamboo look darker. The quality is very good and I still haven't noticed any cracks or leaks. The fact that it's made in Taiwan is usually a good sign of quality (as consumers here are more affluent and demanding than on the Mainland). The best way to maintain it is to use it often, which I do! Bamboo loves water because it needs moisture. A mistake would be to put it under direct sunshine (unless you're using it!).