文 By: 許玉蓮 Hooi Yoke Lien
The basic requirement in learning tea making is getting all the necessary tea utensils in order. Tea appreciation is just like any other hobbies such as painting, photography, playing piano or singing. In order to ensure that a hobby is carried out smoothly, all the required equipment needed must be in place. On top of that, it is also important to understand the function of each and every piece of the equipment required. It is therefore important to set-up the tea table in proper order to ensure that the entire tea making process can be carried out smoothly.
The setting up of the tea table can be divided into three sections. First section: This refers to the tea utensils that are placed right in front of the tea brewed. Those tea utensils shall include: tea pot or cup with lid, tea pitcher and tea cups. These three tea utensils may be made of various materials such as porcelain, pottery, purple clay, glass, etc.. Higher density tea utensils with lower porosity enable tea leaves to release theirfavour fully, whereas lower density tea utensils with higher porosity will hinder the capacity of the tea leaves to fully release their aroma. The tea pot size may vary according the tea cup size used in serving tea. For example, tea pot size of 180cc is sufficient, if small tea cups are used. If medium size tea cups are used, tea pot size of 280cc is probably the right size. If big tea cups are used, tea pot size of 380cc may be required.
Second section: This refers to the kettle and stove that are placed on the left side of the tea brewed. For the safety of the tea drinker, this set of tea utensils shall be placed on the left side, on a smaller table, that is lower than the tea table. The stove may be an electric stove or ethanolstove. There is no particular type of kettle to be used in tea making. Kettles may be available in various materials such as pottery, silver, metal, stainless steels, glass, etc. Once you have more experience in mastering the tea making techniques, you may choose the type of kettle that suits the character of the tea and water used.
Section three: This refers to the tea utensils that are placed on the right side of the tea brewer, which include Tea leaf container, tea receptacle, scraper, saucer, towel and crucible.
To ensure a smooth tea making session, it is advisable that the tea brewer uses both hands while making tea. On top of that, tea utensils must be placed in a designated position that is easily accessible. Just like playing piano, each key on the piano is placed in its designated location so that pianist can locate the keys for each tune on the music note. The same theory applies for tea making. The position of the tea utensils must be on their designated location so that each step in the tea making process is carried out smoothly.
There is one thing for tea brewer to take note while setting up the tea table. As the position of the teapot is designated on the right side of the tea brewer, the teapot shall be lifted using the right hand. The correct way to lift the kettle from the stove is using the left hand as the position of the kettle is designated on the left side of the tea brewer。 The position of the kettle must becorrect otherwise it would be awkward having to reposition the kettle after the tea making session begins. Not only will the tea brewerexpose to the risk of breaking the tea utensils but also prolong the tea making time, which in turn affects the aroma of the tea.