Chapan (“tea trays”) and chachen (“tea drains”) are both used as platforms for the teapot while preparing gongfu tea. Overflow tea and water drain through the lid into the base, or in the case of some styles of chapan, through a hose into another container below the table. An alternative arrangement is to use a bowl-shaped chachuan (“tea boat”) and teapot stand.
The term chahai literally means “tea sea,” and is used to describe a wide variety of serving vessels. The use of a chahai adds flexibility to the gongfu tea process, freeing the server from necessarily pouring from the teapot directly into the guests’ cups. Many people also find them convenient for cooling water for green tea preparation.
The teacups in this section are available in pairs of aroma and drinking cups. The aroma cup is the taller of the two, and is where the tea is initially poured by the host. The guest then pours the tea into the drinking cup, then smells from the newly emptied aroma cup. The aroma remaining in the cup smells noticeably different from both the aroma of the tea in the cup and that of the dry leaves, and changes subtly as the cup cools. The guest then drinks from the drinking cup.
Gaiwan are lidded cups with saucers, a design that originated during the Qing dynasty. They are quite versatile, and may be used in place of a teapot, as a combination brewing/drinking vessel, or simply as a drinking cup. Gaiwan are the preferred implement of many for brewing teas with delicate flavors, such as green teas, but are suitable for any type of tea.