Yes, this is another post about my tea service, or cha pan as its called in Chinese. Apparently, interest in Asian tea has increased in the US, rather dramatically. One can find some of the teas that we enjoy here in Taiwan, but in the export only grade, which is decidedly lower quality than tea intended for the Taiwan domestic market. The same goes for tools of the trade, such as teapots, tool sets and of course, cha pans. As a result, my friend Colby is now importing these cha pans and we are finding that the interest in these items is growing in the US.
After looking at cha pans for quite a few years, I bought one in Sanyi, Taiwan’s famous woodworking area. Its natural for one to think highly of his own possessions, but when I look at this cha pan, I can honestly say that it is one of the best ones I have ever seen, at any price. The desirability of a cha pan is based upon not only its beauty but also its functionality. The beauty aspect is defined not by the natural features of the wood alone, but also on the cleverness of the wood carver to create a functional piece while preserving the natural attributes of the wood. Mine is made from a fine piece of root wood from Laos, which seems to also be increasing in popularity among the Sanyi carvers. I have seen several offerings from different carvers in Sanyi, made from Lao wood.
Today, I was cleaning my cha pan and I decided to shoot a few photos of it with absolutely nothing on it except the furniture polish.
Shot #1 is an overview shot showing the various sections for brewing tea, pouring and storing cups and teapots. The large area at the bottom of the photo is the main working area where you can work and store even large pots. To the left is an area where I store the large teapot when not in use (this post also shows some items in their respective places). I usually store the cups in the area just above the black spot in the center of the pan.
This is a closeup of the upper right section, showing the incredible grain of this wood. I usually place a gong-bei in the small round section and pour water in the larger section below. This is an excellent working area and its also close enough to the guests for them to get a clear view while working a pot.
This is an overview shot of the guest side directly opposite of the working side, showing the tea cup storage/serving area (that’s what I use it for). The cha pan is a bit shinier than usual because I just polished it.
For more information about how you may obtain your own cha pan, please see Colby’s blog.