Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Small Bamboo Tea Tray

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!).

6 comments:

exst said...

Oh, lovely, I already own one of those. It deffinitely is quite handy.

Imen said...

Stephane,

Does yours come with a layer of sheer glaze protective material?

Mine is made in mainland, everything is well done, however, the layer of glaze emits a chemical smell when a HOT tea pot has sat on it for a little while. It's a turn off even though I can only detect it once in a few days.

Imen

Stephane said...

Imen,

Bamboo tray all receive several layers of protective glaze (I'm not sure this is the correct word. In French we say 'laque').
This is one of the important difference in quality between the different makers. The best trays will apply up to 8 or 10 fine layers, while the cheaper ones only use a few layers of cheaper glaze.

The result is either a very smooth bamboo or a wood with a rough feel.

Also, some smell is unavoidable in the beginning, even with the high end makers. But after a while it should disappear. But if it's the heat that creates the smell, then I'd say that the glaze used is not high quality enough for gongfu cha use. I'd consider using it only for display. Chemical smell is the last thing you want when you make tea!

Ann McCormick said...

Your tea tray is lovely, and I appreciate what you shared about issues of purchasing a tea tray. Can you tell me where to find a tray and tea pot like your new ones? Thanks so much. If you come to California, there is a lovely tea shop in Palo Alto that also has a web site, neotte.com. Matthew, the Chief Tea Officer (this is Silicon Valley) warmly shares tea knowlege that is transforming how I enjoy tea. I look forward to more posts from you!

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about formaldehyde in my tea tray , as it has a strong smell. Any trays without formaldehyde out there?

Awkwardly Passionate Japanese Girl Who Meditates A lot or Awkwardly asexual schoolboy picks too many flowers said...

where did you get it?