Sunday, December 30, 2007

Chapan Care

Some chapan are made of wood, some of bamboo, some of stone, some of dense plastic, some of other materials. But whatever material they're made of, they all need daily care to keep them maintained in good shape.

If you're using a chapan daily, as most people do in Fujian, then you need to pay more attention to cleaning every day. The chapan is a necessary utensil; and it is ubiquitous in Fujian. You see one in hotel lobbies, you see them in offices of car dealerships, you see them in waiting rooms attached to school offices, you see them in homes, you see them in restaurants. In fact, you can find a chapan in just about every home, office, or anywhere else people have to wait for periods of time. These chapan are doing their duty every day, draining away liquids. And day after day, year after year, they get used. Some are so well used, the finish is worn off the top. Or, some are covered in rich, brown tea stains all over. Some have a hose that is thickly caked with tea sediment on the inside. They all show signs of age, but still just as useful as new.

Over years of service, your chapan will also show signs of wear. Here are some tips to help keep yours in good shape.

Use a Brush
When at home, you can use a small brush to sweep excess liquid and tea fines toward the drain hole.

Use Tea Towels
You can use tea towels to wipe your chapan down between sessions. This helps to cut down on tea stain buildup. Have extra tea towels on hand - because they get soaked quickly.

After finishing use of the chapan for the day, wipe it down thoroughly so there's no standing water on top. This will help preserve the finish.

Change the Hose
After use for a period of time, the hose will become heavily tea stained, and may become unsightly. If that's the case, then change it. You can buy an extra length of hose at any length you need at a hardware store.

Change the Waste Bucket
Your waste bucket will sit on the floor, collect waste tea liquid, and waste tea leaves. It gets used often, but most people neglect it. Then, it will become heavily tea stained, and ugly. It's best to empty it at the end of the day, and wash it with soap. Placing a little mat or rug under this bucket is also desirable, so your floor won't get tea stained.

It's Not a Cutting Board
If you really want to protect your chapan, then don't use it for other purposes other than brewing tea. Don't use it as a surface for cutting up fruit, for example.

Clearing Clogs
If your chapan gets plugged up with bits of leaf, then you should first remove any visible bits of leaf. Then, you can place your palm over the drain hole and lightly plunge with your palm. The problem should clear up right away. But if water is still not draining away, then maybe the hose either has a kink, or the hose is too long. The hose should not touch the bottom of the bucket. Try moving the hose around to see if that solves the problem.

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