Monday, November 26, 2007

Tea Utensils - The Basic Stuff

For gong-fu tea, you need a few basic, but essential tea utensils to facilitate a perfect brew and enjoyment of the tea you prepare. Here is a list of just the absolute basic tea utensils:

Gaiwan: these are all-purpose brewing vessels and it is handy to have several on hand for brewing a number of teas in one tea tasting session. They normally consist of 3 parts: a lid, a cup, and a saucer. But for pouring tea, you would use the lid and cup only. (Substitution: porcelain teapot or cebei or zisha teapot.)

Porcelain teapot: these are small teapots, normally globular in shape, with a handle, lid, and curved spout. They add interest to the tea brewing experience.

Cebei: is a small porcelain teapot that is convenient to use. They generally have more of a cylindrical shape, and triangular shaped spouts. They may be used instead of a gaiwan or porcelain teapot. A gaiwan may sometimes scald the fingers when used repeatedly. So it’s handy to have a cebei when things get too hot.

Zisha teapot: is a special type of teapot that after an initial seasoning and repeated brewing of the same tea, gives an improved flavor to tea. They are unique in the hand-made nature and design. Many are collectible.

Chahai: (also called gong dao bei) is a serving pitcher used to pour into each individual small tasting cup. (Substitution: a spare, unused porcelain teapot, cebei, or zisha teapot)

Tasting cups: (also called gongfu cups). These are fairly small cups used to savor the taste and aroma of the tea.

Chapan: is a tea tray of wood or bamboo. They typically have a brass spigot for a hose attachment. The hose drains away excess liquids into a bucket below.

Tea Strainer: these are very fine mesh strainers that will stain out the leaf bits, making the tea you drink more enjoyable. They are commonly made of aluminum, stainless steel, porcelain, or gourd.

Strainer rest: generally made of porcelain, it’s a small and convenient thing to have for placing your strainer. (Substitution: gaiwan saucer, or some other type of very small plate.)

Tea sink: is a bowl just large enough for holding several tasting cups. They are made of glass, porcelain, or earthenware. They are filled with water, and used to keep tasting cups clean between use.

Tea tongs: are made of bamboo, wood, or stainless steel. The wood tongs are pretty; but the stainless steel tongs are the most practical. They are used when rinsing cups in hot water, and for grabbing cups out of the tea sink.

Tea towel: any small towel will do. It’s used for wiping the undersides of cups, and wiping away any spills; as well as general clean up. You will want several of these.

Water kettle: these are usually electric, and preferably cordless. Look for one with an all-stainless steel body and lid. Plastic kettles tend to give the water an off-taste, which is undesirable in brewing expensive teas. Higher wattage means faster boiling time, so purchase accordingly.

Waste tea bucket: this is usually a small plastic bucket, placed on the floor, and used to catch the flow from the chapan; as well as any waste, spent tea leaves.

If you had to do this list as a top ten, then only the following are really necessary:
1. gaiwan
2. chahai
3. tasting cups
4. chapan
5. tea strainer
6. strainer rest
7. tea sink
8. tea tongs
9. tea towel
10. water kettle

Anything else can be acquired later. However, keeping color, design, and pattern in mind, it’s best to acquire and collect different versions of the same basic tea utensils to add interest and variety in gongfu tea brewing sessions.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: