MarshalN wrote:I'd strongly advise against buying a bamboo only tray -- they tend to crack after a year (or even less) of use, and are sooner or later irredeemable and need a replacement.
Seems a long time since our last posting. Hope everyone is excited about the new spring teas that are slowly filtering on the market. We have our first batch of Tai Ping Hou Kui arriving this evening - very excited.
I digress. Was reading this thread and wanted to reply plus ask you all more about your needs.
MashallN, you are right in many ways but also wrong. Bamboo trays vary hugely in quality and reliability. James has been using one of the medium bamboo tea trays with water pipe in the UK for nearly 4 years now (used sporadically) and it is only getting more beautiful with time. It is now a deep amber, from its original pale bamboo colour. Wan Ling has hers in the shop for nearly two years and that is used 7 days a week, 365 days a year, normally for 10 hours a day.
This said, we have selected this brand after a lot of bad experiences. Bamboo is still one of the best options from a practicality and appearance point over, especially if then add in shipping. Wood is stunning but heavy. James' wooden table
weighed nearly 20kg, not something you want to pop in the post!
So what to look out for? Key thing to look out for is joins. It will be the joins that give out on tea trays the first, whether wood or bamboo. Solid trays are on the whole more reliable, if well made from professionally compressed bamboo or a hardwood. Another important point is to pay attention to finish. A well made tray will be well lacquered, ideally with more than 3 coats of varnish, even up to 6 coats.
Moving on to stone tables. Some of the most beautiful are from GuangDong and southern China which are made from Ink Stone. Usually beautifully carved with the stone mason picking out the naturally varying colours. Watch out for mass produced ones with mediocre carvings, if you are investing this much money be picky. On the downside, stone tables can be the down fall of your favourite tea wares. All too many hand made tea wares have been chipped and broken by seemingly innocuous 'clinks'.
Finally, the tea tables, and by this I mean the tree trunks and roots that are formed into free standing tea trays. This are not as expensive as you may think. The cost is the shipping. Very possible and willing to help anyone that is interested. Just remember you need get your tea table
fumigated if shipping overseas. The other wonderful thing to do if you know local craftsmen is to commission one. Wan Ling Tea House is working with a local Dorset, UK artist to make this from British Beech and Oak. Live global, shop local where you can.
Can I ask readers of this post to send us some feedback? We see lots of hits for people looking for tea trays, but not so many sales. Reading this thread, its seems to be a hard product to find outside of China. What do you need?