Chinese Tea Trays – Gong Fu Tea Tray

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Gong Fu Tea tray

Chinese Tea Tray with Gong Fu Tea set and Electric Hot Water Kettle

The Chinese tea tray is used when making Gong Fu style tea and is an integral component of the Chinese tea ceremony. The Chinese culture has embraced tea and the essential tea making products such as the Gong Fu tea tray and other components for thousands of years. Of Antioxidant course, like most things it has evolved over the years and gone through many changes. The Chinese tea ceremony as it is today is still conducted in very formal settings, but more often than not it is used as a socializing occasion with family, friends, business associates, meeting new people etc. In business circles, it is a key to successful networking and relationship building and many business decisions and deals  are often made while drinking tea together. The event itself can be very formal and follow traditional routines and/or it can also be a very light and fun time of  upbeat and lively conversations in a very casual setting.

Purpose of the Chinese Tea Tray

One of the main purposes of the tea tray, aside from it being a convenient place to keep all the tea ceremony components organized as the tea is brewed and served, is to keep the water splashes and spills contained. Some tea masters, or people serving the tea, pour hot water all over the outside of the teapot a part of the brewing preparation, as well as rinse all the cups and holding pitcher with hot water.

This of course makes for quite a bit of excess hot water which is collected by the tea tray. There are 2 main tea trays types for channeling the hot water and other excess spills of water and tea that may happen during the event. One way is by having a removable spill tray in the bottom of the tea tray – or for some smaller, simpler designs, the water just sits in the bottom of the tray and can be emptied once the tea drinking is finished. The most common way however is to have a small drain hole outlet in the tea tray with a pipe connected to it which runs off into a special container usually placed on on the floor nearby. This is quite practical and allows for plenty of water and tea to be spilled throughout the course of the ceremony without needing to “clean up”.

Standard Bamboo Chinese Tea Tray

Standard Bamboo Gong Fu Tea Tray

Gong Fu Tea tray with drain hole and hose for draining water

Different components of the Chinese tea tray including the drain hose.

Different Styles and Designs

The Chinese tea tray itself can be a simple wooden bamboo tea tray or it  can be a fancy, polished mahogany or ebony designer tray. There are also many other varieties including ceramic trays, metal tea trays and cheaper plastic varieties. I have even seen an expensive ornate wooden table carved out as an elaborate “tea tray on legs”

Ebony Gong Fu Tea Tray

Ebony Wood Chinese Tea Tray

Mahogany Gong Fu Tea Tray

Stylish Mahogany Chinese Tea Tray


There can be a bit of status and significance associated with the elegance and expense of the tea tray and I’ve seen some pretty awesome private tea rooms during my time in China and even more noticeably in Taiwan.

 Tea Pedestal

Maple Burlwood Tea Pedestal

Maple Burlwood Tea Pedestal

Large Cherry Burlwood Tea Pedestal

Large Cherry Burlwood Tea Pedestal

Here is a slight variation to the Tea Tray. It is called a Tea Pedestal. These artistic blocks are carved out of tree trunks such as the Burlwood tree and give a natural rustic look and feel to the tea experience. Here is shop that sells Tea Pedestals.

A decent looking and practical bamboo tea tray, however is not extravagantly expensive and I would recommend investing in one if you wish to expand your tea expertise and enjoy some of the many Chinese teas to the fullest. For example here is a Tea Tray you can pick up on Amazon for less than $40. If you are looking for a more elaborate tea tray, but can’t  find one, feel free to send a note via the comments below or to our email and we may be able to supply it for you.

Tea trays are primarily used for Gongfu tea ceremony, but can be used for any tea brewing and serving styles. I’ve noticed a lot of tea connoisseurs (myself included) tend to be “collectors” and are always adding not only new teas, but also new tea ware products and tea accessories to their tea room or tea portfolio. It’s all a part of the fun and experience of the tea journey!

Where are you up to on your tea journey?

Discover Finest Chinese Teas


2 thoughts on “Chinese Tea Trays – Gong Fu Tea Tray

  1. Armand

    Hi Peter,

    This is an interesting read about the Chinese Tea Tray. I have never known that the tray serves a ceremony in the Chinese culture. I guess in the western world, the tea ceremony is an equivalent to having dinner where everyone gathers around the table and socializing by talking about their everyday lives. The part that I like is that one of the trays can collect the slippage of water should it ever happen.

    This post is very informative about the Chinese Tea Trays, and you have done a great job in going into detail about them. I have bookmarked your site as I didn’t know that there were different variations of tea.
    To answer your question about where I am up to in my tea journey. My answer is, “Drinking the green tea on an (almost) daily basis.” I was wondering if you can tell me if you recommend the green tea that’s from Kirkland because it’s the type of tea that I drink most often.


    1. Peter Post author

      Thanks for your comments Armand. I haven’t tried Kirkland green tea, but I understand the brand is made by Ito En which is a well known Japanese tea producer. My preference is always for loose leaf teas whenever possible. If the Kirkland tea is loose leaf tea or stone ground natural (if Matcha) then you cant go far wrong with that. Even tea bagged teas and bottled tea drinks have some of the health properties of loose leaf teas – usually just not to the same degree or concentration. But, hey it still is way more healthy than drinking sodas!
      By the way we have just recently opened our Amazon Tea Store and are starting with some nice Oolong teas. We will have more teas – including green teas and Matcha available soon.


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