For anyone who steeps those premium teas gongfu style the tea boat is an essential part of the steeping process. In fact, this is where all activities of gongfu tea takes place. Set your teapot and tea cups in the boat, brew your tea, and any additional water that you pour in the process will be stored in the bottom layer. Tea boats were made to preserve every drop of the scarce water source.
|Mid-size bamboo tea table, perfect for home use. Original bamboo color.
Has upper tray for your teaware sets and accessories and a lower area
to hold the excess water and tea liquid.
What Is a Tea Boat
First, what is called a “tea boat” or “tea table” can vary from something that looks more like a small table or tray to something shaped like a shallow bowl. They usually consist of two parts – a surface with holes are slits in it to let water through and a container it sits on to catch the water. Tea tables can also be large enough to store your teapot, cups, and other implements in.
Common Designs and Materials
Wood, zisha clay, ceramic, and bamboo are some of the materials used to make tea boats and tea tables. You can even put together your own version by using a shallow dish and something to set your teapot on. Some are round and others are rectangular.
How to Use a Tea Boat
Many of the better teas can undergo a number of infusions of the same batch of tea leaves. And a tea boat/table can be an important part of the process.
- Prepare your tea set (gaiwan or teapot and chahai, sipping cups, and sniffing cups if used), making sure everything is clean and set out ready for use.
- Separate out the amount of dry tea you will need from the rest of the package or cake. (Pry pu-erh leaves from a tuo, cake, or brick layer by layer to avoid breaking the tea leaves too much. Handle teas like Silver Needle carefully to avoid bruising the plump silvery buds. And so on.)
- Heat the water to the appropriate temperature for the tea you’re steeping. Pour some into your teapot and swirl around to warm it, then pour out into the basin part of the tea boat/table.
- Add the appropriate amount of tea leaves to your teapot.
- Wash the tea leaves once or twice for about 5-10 seconds each. You can use the water to wash your cups or just pour it into the basin of the tea boat/table.
- Now you are ready to steep. Fill the teapot with hot water (some people like to let some water overflow and go into the tea boat/table basin) and let the vessel sit for the appropriate time period. Often these are very short (5-30 seconds each)
- If you are using a Yixing teapot, there should be strainer holes in the base of the spout, so you can just pour the liquid into the chahai and from there into the sniffing cups and/or sipping cups.
- If you are steeping in a gaiwan, just pour into the cups, using the lid to keep the tea leaves in the gaiwan.
Enjoy your tea more with a “tea-worthy” tea boat!