Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tea Tables

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.

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.


Unknown said...

I'm trying to find an email address to send a note to the founder of this wonderful blog. Please advise.
Thank you
Michelle Rabin

Anonymous said...

The most perfectly built tea tables Ive seen anywhere are the ones that purepuer.com have. The most beautifully grained wood, seems so tight its hard to see them. They have a small and a large one. The small is $95.00. Yep, you get what you pay for. I also have Rishis tray and its very nice but the quality of the wood just isn't as good as purepuers.

Steven Dodd said...

I have a $20 small tray from LA Chinatown. It held up pretty well but eventually leaked in a corner. I used some waterproof putty called AquaMend to line the inside edges with. Works well now, though the paste dries white. Not a big deal since you only see it when you clean it out.

Anonymous said...

yeah republic of tea...
their tea is isn't that good either, i like the flavor (and pretty name) of their sky between the branches (gu zhang mao jian) but i could tell it wasn't fresh at all. and i bought a cheap cast-iron teapot from them and it had this wierd dark residue on the inside

Space Samurai said...

Michelle: I sent you an email, assuming of course you are the same Michelle Rabin of T Ching. If not, she will be confused in the morning when she checks her mail.

Greenisgood: I had the same problem with one of their cast iron teapots.

MarshalN said...

Bamboo trays all leak eventually, it's a matter of when and how. The cheap ones, as you've discovered, often leak right away. The expensive ones last longer. In my experience, they start leaking after about a year or a year and half's constant use. Trying to seal the stuff with putty or what not, but those will eventually leak too....

Brandice said...

I love your blog, and I was wondering if you'd like check out our tea podcast and maybe do a link swap?

I'm really wanting to get into gongfu (sp?) and do it on our show, so I love reading about this type of stuff. I've been looking into getting a table for a while.

(oh - link is http://steaptv.com)

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GED said...

Tea Tables are so great and these are just lovely!

Anonymous said...

Hello - still trying to get a link to my site -
as you can see, i contacted you 3 years ago but never heard from you. hope you can add me to your blog roll.

Anonymous said...

Amazing job, very beautiful!Oak Bunk Beds

Tsubo said...

Got the same kind of problem but it's finally easy to resolve : glue to fill slots and lacquer to cover and protect the glue