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”.
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”
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.
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?