I purchased my first tea table a year ago from Rishi, and I received my second one today. I chose to wait a year before writing a review in order to see how well it stood up to consistent, daily use. Would it leak? Would the bamboo warp over time? Would it stain?
With the arrival of a second table to compare it to, now seemed a perfect time.
Bamboo Tea Table, Large (Rishi Tea)
I looked several different tables for weeks before choosing this one. I wanted something simple. I decided to pick one that was a little pricier, because I felt that I would most likely get what I paid for.
This thing is amazing, very well built, very solid. The seams are flawless. The surface texture is very smooth. All the edges are nicely rounded.
The corners inside the tray have accumulated tea stains, but that's it.
It is certainly large enough. I use this table when I do tea demos at the stores, and I have gong-fued for 3-4 hours before filling it up.
I have been very happy with it. It is the one item of all my tea ware that I use the most, well worth the $75.
But...it is a little large. This was never a problem, but I have a new desk, and between that and my computer, it felt a little crowded. So I found myself in the market for a smaller, inexpensive tea table that I could leave on my desk.
Small Bamboo Tray (Republic of Tea)
I almost bought this one originally, but as I said, you get what you pay for. I felt there was most likely a reason this one was only $20, so I went with the one from Rishi.
When Roy Fong did his tea class in January, he used one of these. Having had a closer look at it, I was very fond of the size, so the second time, after a just a bit of shopping around, I chose this one.
Immediately I could see the difference in quality.
The seams are rough.
There are cracks.
And various scratches on the body.
But the price was right, so I was okay with it and quite happy with my purchase.
I was not okay with this.
Within five minutes it was leaking on my desk. I'll say it a third time, you get what you pay for.
This is a little frustrating, but I think I can fix it with some silicone or water-proof wood glue. And it is a little gratifying to know that I made the right decision the first time by going with the more expensive one. Mostly I am just aggravated with Republic of Tea and their ongoing lack of quality. I did not expect anything stellar, but I did expect it to work.
But what can you do? With tea everyone pays their "tuition" sooner or later. Twenty bucks isn't that much to loose.
Update: Republic of Tea emailed me back today. They have refunded my money and are sending me a replacement. I thought that was very nice of them.