A wonderful aspect of tea culture are the exquisite and unusual tea accessories available.
The Chinese gongfu tea ceremony is an excellent example. The ability
of the various artisans to craft the most beautiful and practical items,
usually from natural materials, is never ending. Ranging from
delightful ceramic tea pots, GongFu tea sets with ceramic gaiwan and tea cups from famous cities such as De Hua and Jing De Zhen, to the world famous ZiSha clay teapots of YiXing. Such tea wares are complemented by stone, carved wood and bamboo tea trays (cha pan) plus delicate tea tools and lucky charms.
The range and use of these accessories can be sometimes bewildering,
whilst fascinating. We look here to introduce a few of the key
accessories that are commonly used.
A range of cha dao (different Chinese character to the way of tea
cha 'dao'), tea tools and complete sets are available to meet your
preferences, budget and to match tea sets and trays.
The different accessories are a critical part of the traditional GongFu tea ceremony and as with items such as the tea trays, many of the gongfu tea accessories are purposely crafted from natural materials such as wood and bamboo.
Tea clippers allow the Cha Shi, the person serving the tea, to
rinse the cups in hot tea and to serve the guest without coming into
contact with the cup. It takes much practice to become deft at using
these, but once you do they become very practical and yet another way to
enhance the whole experience. Like with any tool, eventually their use
becomes an extension of the user.
The tea needle can be used for unblocking tea pots spouts and also
removing spent tea leaves from tea pots and gai wan. The cha ze, or tea
funnel, is commonly used for pouring/guiding the tea leaves from the
cha he (a small vessel for holding and displaying the loose tea leaves)
in to the gai wan or tea pot. Tea spoons are a convenient way of
measuring out the tea and either placing in to a cha he or directly in
to the tea making pot. The funnel or cha rou dou can be seen in use in
our making tea - Zi Sha Tea Pot page.
Cha dao, tea tools are available from the mass produced sets to individually hand made tea tools. Opposite you can see an ornately finished set of bamboo clippers and also (above) a complete set that has been crafted to retain the natural characteristics of the bamboo as much as possible.
Opposite can be seen a carved pot for storing and displaying tea tools, along side which we see a funnel, spoon, cha ze, clipper and needle.
An aspect that intrigues many people on visiting a Chinese tea
shop or home, are the range of often strange looking animals &
creatures sat on or by the tea tray. These are usually made from the
semi-porous Zi Sha clay, which has been made famous by tea pots and
other cooking wares of YiXing.
Initially it can be shocking to watch expensive tea being poured away over these 'tea pets' or lucky charms, but from practical point of view the tea, over time, alters the colour and appearance of the clay. More importantly from a spiritual perspective people believe that "feeding" the creatures ensures an on going flow of good fortune; harmony; peace and that evil is kept at bay. They are yet another example of art, religion and tea being closely entwined.