What is a tea tray?
A tea tray is a piece of furniture that serves to carry tea utensils, used when having tea.
The Tea Culture in the World...
Tea originated in China over 5000 years ago, where it was used both as a medicine and also for pleasure. Consequently, an elegant courteous tradition developed around this drink. Tea became widely popular in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and was introduced to Japan around 815. From then on, it has become one of Japan's most beloved beverages.
Tea is deeply rooted in traditional Japanese culture, where it is considered an indispensable part of everyday life. Tea ceremonies are celebrated with different degrees of formality, serving tea in small bowls, known as cups. It is both a social custom and an art form.
How to serve tea on a tray?
Serving a cup of tea in a formal setting is a skill that takes practice to master. Place the saucer underneath your cup so it doesn't slip when you set it down. Hold the teapot in one hand and use the other hand to grasp the handle of the sugar bowl. Pick up the creamer in your other hand. When you've served yourself, place the creamer and sugar bowl on the tray. Carry it in one hand with your index finger inside for support, and use your other hand to carry the teapot. Be sure not to spill any tea!
Bringing a cup of tea to somebody is another gesture that takes practice to master. Hold the tray with both hands and approach the person. When you're about to serve them their tea, kneel down on one knee and present it as if you were offering a gift.
How to serve Gongfu tea on the tray?
Here are some tips in regards to the proper way to serve Gongfu tea. Hopefully, these ideas will help you in your quest to perfect the Gongfu tea service.
When it comes to Gongfu tea, no two people would present their offerings in an identical fashion. There are literally dozens of ways to present Gongfu tea on the tray.
These methods vary according to personal preferences, teapot styles, and teacup shapes. Having said that, there are some general guidelines that can serve as a foundation for your Gongfu ritual. These ideas should be viewed as suggestions rather than strict rules. If you have something particular in mind, feel free to deviate.
One way to present Gongfu tea on the tray is to line up the six cups in a straight row across the top of the table. It is not necessary to make an equal distance between each cup. With this method, you will want to place one pair of teapot and teacups at either end of the line.
As a general rule, you should place the teapot that will be used first in front and closest to yourself. For example, if you are right-handed, you would want to place the teapot in front and to your left. This will allow for an easier pouring angle when necessary.
After placing the teapot, you would then place the teacup directly in the back of it. The last three cups would be placed either above or below the first two pots and cups.
Generally speaking, when presenting Gongfu tea on the tray you want to use round teacups rather than square ones. This allows for a more aesthetically pleasing look. However, there is nothing wrong with using square teacups.
It is a good idea to have one reserved cup that would serve as your "cup of no return". This cup should be placed in the middle of the line or just above or below it. In other words, place this drinkable cup somewhere between the last two teapots and teacups.
When it comes to the type of teacups to use, there are no hard and fast rules. Generally speaking, you should use teacups that are fairly low in height so they don't take up too much space on the tray or table. You also want to ensure that the bottom is flat enough so that it does not rock back and forth when you lift it up and down.
If the teacups have a saucer, remove it during the Gongfu tea service. Not only does this help to prevent burning your fingers (which is common with some teapot spouts), but also aids in better cleaning of the cup after Gongfu tea service.
Another way to present Gongfu tea on the tray is to line up four cups in a straight line. The center cup should be placed right below where you will pour from. This allows for a more centered view of your guests as they enjoy their tea service.
In addition to these two main serving styles, there are also other presentations that can be used. For instance, you can line up your cups so the center cup is placed above the other two. This way, you are looking down on them when serving tea to your guests.
Another method is to place the teapot directly in front of you and have all six teacups in a semi-circle around it. You would then pour into each individual cup instead of pouring into a pair and then transferring the tea to another cup.
If you want to make things easier, you could place all six cups in a straight line right in front of you and pour directly from the teapot into each one. This method does not necessarily look as nice (although it is perfectly acceptable) but can be much easier when serving Gongfu tea.
The best way to present Gongfu tea on the tray is whatever way you prefer. By considering different styles and trying them out, you will be able to improve your own presentation style that not only looks nice but one that presents your guests with a pleasing visual experience as well.
Remember that Gongfu tea service is really about the experience of tea drinking. The presentation is simply a part of that experience. So whatever you do, don't stress over it too much and just have fun!
Above all, the most important thing to remember when presenting Gongfu tea on the tray is that you need to know how to pour from your teapot into a pair of cups without spills. This requires practice and can take some time to master…