Friday, August 14, 2009


How many is too many? Organizing and rotating tea utensils is often a headache for me... not because I am trying to show them off, but the fact that only 10% of the utensils are being used. Some even get used only once or twice. So what are these? Here, I am trying to put a glossary together for the record:

Group A: Yixing brushes.
1. Boar bristle brush for polishing larger yixing.
2. Hay brush for cleaning inside of wet yixing after use.
3. Boar chest-hair hard brush with ox bone handle, for brushing off uneven patina on yixing surface.
4. Soft 'feeding' brush to even out patina on yixing.
5. Fan brush from my watercolor class, to even out water spot while brewing.
6. Soft polishing cloth for cleaning yixing after brewing, and while the surface is still hot.

Group B: Tea strainers.
1. Korean Calabash Gourd Strainer.
2. Blanc de Chine Strainer set.
3. English silver nickel tiny Strainers.
4. Cheapest stainless steel Strainers ($5 for 25) with glass pitcher
5. QingBai Cha Hai

More to come.... Would it be fun to have quizzes next? hmm... a sneak peek:

Group C: Modern Kung Fu kits.

Group D: Whatnots.
1. Bamboo roasting basket
2. Taiwanese refreshing/roasting pot
3. Puerh knife
4. Wild guess 1
5. Brazier chopsticks
6. Puerh Sword
7. Whatnot jar
8. Wild guess
9. Yixing tea tray

Anyone interested in guessing what 4 and 8 are? Of course there will be a small reward. Enjoy

Thanks for everyone anticipations... Close guesses, unfortunately, no one get it right : (
Here are the answers:

4. Wild guess 1 - Teapot lid holder. Material like Pearl on the top suppose to avoid reaction with yixing (as the maker told me), more like caviar spoon.
8. Wild guess 2 - Tetsubin holder. While using Brazier to heat Tetsubin, this traditional chopper tools adjust and hold the kettle in place. You can see the notches at the end for gripping the rim of a brazier, which RTEA pointed out.

image reference for Scotttea comment.


TP said...

Hmm I might guess 4 is to put your gaiwan lid on, and 8 is to pick leaves from the spout? They look like they could double as nice chopsticks too :)

Anonymous said...

What a collection of paraphernalia. I'm afraid this reminds me of a drug addict's collection. But, no problem; tea is one of the healthiest habits anyone could ever pick up. --Jason

Trent said...

4: vent plugs for a brazier.
8: charcoal "chopsticks." used to poke, prod, or manipulate charcoal.

Maitre_Tea said...

4: I'm thinking that vent plugs for a brazier is unlikely, since the material looks flammable. I thought my Chinese skills would help but I can't read the two characters on the left and right(possible to see them, perhaps?). I want to say that they go into a tea container, but how the hell would you get the tea out? I'm still pondering what this might be.

8: You already mentioned charcoal chopsticks (but of course you could have two tools for the job), but the material (some kind of stone? Jade?) and the fact I don't see any charcoal residue rules that out for me. I think they're chopsticks to manipulate tea leaves that are in the teapot, or to closely examine dry/wet tea leaf, if you wanted to hold them to a light or something.

Rich said...

Even reading the characters on 4 doesn't quite tell me what it is. Hmm, maybe a lid for a tea pitcher, or a stamp for removing excess water from tea leaves?

Chopsticks for #8 - very nice ones - trick question? Notches may mean something, although I have stone chopsticks with notches on them too.

toki said...

Thanks everyone for having fun :) Good Guesses.... but so far, no one hit any yet.... Shall we say Friday for the review? Enjoy-T

Trent said...

Is 4 used to press leaves in a pot to extract the last few drops?

Maitre_Tea said...

This seems very unlikely due to the length of #8, but could they possibly be used to fish tea cups out of the water bowl?

scotttea said...

Dear Toki,

As always, I do enjoy a good quiz. I was stumped by your number "4" for a while. As for your "8" item, I do believe that they are what one calls "hibashi" (literally "hibachi hashi/bashi" or brazier chopsticks). The notches on the tips are there to aid in gripping charcoal. I have a set at home that I use for my furo and sencha ryoro. I'd be happy to share pictures of it in action.
As for how you are using them, I might worry that they might warp over time with use. The proper item one uses to "prop-up" a tetsubin (at least in Chanoyu and daily use within a traditional Japanese home) is called a "gotoku," a small iron object that slightly resembles a caltrop (though not quite). You might be lucky to find an image if you Google it, although, as with all things Japanese, nicer ones are getting rare.
I hope this additional information helps in your tea practice. Thanks again for introducing all of us to wonderful and beautiful things, many which are new and inspiring. I look forward to more to come!

toki said...

Thank you Scotttea for letting me understand more about Japanese tea utensils, specially "hibashi". It will be a whole different chapter for brazier and charcoal etiquette, and I am glad that I have you as my guardian : )

Regarding item #8. As far as I was told, this is not a hibashi, the headlady from Horai onsen in Atami whom introduce me to this fascinating brazier tool (bottom 2 pics), said this tool comparing to gotoku creates a more wabi setting, and depending on the brazier style, is more adjustable. So, what is the name of it... I have no idea, perhaps tool 008 for now : P

The 2 silver and bronze chopsticks on the top sides, which I think are hibashi? Much to learn about them.... Cheers - T

scotttea said...

Hello Toki,

I did some further research on this hibashi case and found something that might answer (or better answer) the instance of the #8 name (and use). The item is actually called a kazari-hibashi (literally "ornamented hibashi," 飾り火箸). They are most commonly used in upper temae (more formal tea ceremonies and are distinguished by their subtle ornamentation and, are at times, multi-sided (like the set pictured in your blog). A better description of them and their use can be found on the wonderful website WikiChado ( ). I hope this helps with this brazier tong query.


Ben said...

Can I ask you about teachat in this blog?

toki said...

BEN-Kindly send me a private email on that matter:

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