Updated: Oct 18, 2018
In a tea table setup, tea pots and Gaiwans are the kings, and cups are the queens. All bamboo and wooden tools serve supporting roles. As long as we have a pot and a cup, we can make tea. But the beauty of tea is more about having the cultural experience and fun, and Bamboo Cha Ze (Chinese: 茶则) is charming supporting tool. Today, let’s talk about Cha Ze.
Of course, all tools need to be practical before we can consider their aesthetic value. In practice, Cha Ze is a tool for carrying tea leaves from the container to the pot. Particularly, it has two methods to do so. First use it to scoop; the other use is simply to receive. Two different methods have two different corresponding designs.
Cha Ze for scooping is very straightforward. It has a small and narrow scoop-like frontend. Some Cha Ze of this type even have a handle for easier grip. Usually, Cha Ze scoops are used to get tea leaves from a large can, jar or container. Scoops are more commonly used for green tea products since most green teas are packaged in larger bags. However, other types of teas, such as black tea and oolong tea, are packaged in smaller, per-serving bags. For those teas, we need to use a larger Cha Ze to carry the leaves.
Larger Cha Ze are wider and longer. Compared to scoops, large Cha Ze can be used as a tool for presenting tea. Instead of using it to scoop tea from bags, we put large Cha Ze as a plate and pour tea from tea bags onto it. Seasoned tea drinkers would also use large Cha Ze to demonstrate the integrity of tea leaves for the guests. For tea drinker who regularly drink oolong tea, black tea and white tea, large Cha Ze is the best choice to entertain your guests.
After understanding the use of Cha Ze, we can talk about the making of it. Yes, you can actually make a Cha Ze for yourself. Depending on the bamboo you choose, you can either carve or paint it.
Carving bamboo is slightly more difficult. Because bamboo has multiple thin but strong layers, you might need special tools to carve on the surface. However, if your bamboo has special spots or luster, you can actually keep the bamboo in its original form to show its natural beauty. By comparison, painting Cha Ze is not as strenuous as carving one. The popular design choices are flowers and plants such as plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum that symbolize noble moral characters in traditional Chinese values. If you need inspiration for your Cha Ze design, we actually have both carved and painted Cha Ze available at our Teaware page.
Cha Ze is an elegant tool. It doesn’t make your tea taste better. But if you want your tea-drinking experience more playful and sophisticated, you should definitely consider getting a Cha Ze for your tea table.
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