Tinkering fever

Yesterday I got the tinkering fever, I just had to craft something! Our Cha Pan which we brought with us from China has been too small ever since, so I decided to build a bigger one myself!

Cha what?

A Chá Pán (茶盘) is a tea tray, which is mostly used in the preparation of tea in the Gongfu style. Its main task is to collect excess water. It usually consists of two parts: a water-permeable surface on which the teaware is placed, and a collecting vessel into which the excess water can drain. Many Cha Pan also have a pipe, through which the collected water can be discharged into another vessel or elsewhere.

When you make Gonfu-style tea, you usually use a lot of water: all the cups, pots and other utensils are washed repeatedly in hot water and tea to ensure the correct temperature is maintained during the actual brewing of the tea. A tea tray with a collecting vessel proves to be very practical, since it prevents the hot water from dripping on your feet from the table.

Self-crafted Cha Pan the easy way

Well, I thought so at least. The day started with “It can’t be that hard!” and “That would be quite laughable if I could not…” All the tools I needed (electric saws, wood files, cordless screwdriver, wood drill set, screws, meter measure) I had already there, so I went to the hardware store, to get the missing materials for our new Cha Pan:

Cha Pan


8 hours | ~70,-€ | 1 Cha Pan

  • Wood
  • Wood varnish
  • Pot coaster (to be found in the garden section)
  • Anti-slip nubs

The first challenge was to choose a suitable wood. In the garden section of the third hardware store I went to, two meters above my head, they were storing long bamboo boards for terrace substructure. A forklift later I held the boards in my hands and was quite surprised: “Bamboo is not lightweight at all!” I thought to myself holding those eight kilos of wood in my hands. “Ok, then it shall become a very stable Cha Pan.”

To work!

After the shopping it was time to measure. The boards had to exactly cover the collecting vessel as a grid. You should be able to put the vessel from the side under the tray and it should then fit underneath very closely to the overlying grid, so that it could collect all draining water well and be as inconspicuous as possible.

After measuring, I finally put my electric saw to use. The bamboo wood proved to be very hard and robust (bamboo wood, by the way, has a higher density than oak!). When sawing, I was partly afraid that the saw might blow up in my face. I divided each board into two larger parts (for the grid surface), a smaller part (for the base) and the small end pieces (as coasters for the tea cups). After the sawing I was exhausted quite well. “I’ve got the hardest part behind me” I told to myself.

How wrong I was! The first drilling was a total failure, as the drill broke straight in the 4 cm thick wood. I played for a while with the idea of ​​using wood glue, but gave it up again. No glue in the world could have held together the total of eight kilos massive wood. So I dared a second drilling attempt, combining drillings with a narrow, then a wider drill, not too deep, in order to reduce the friction resistance. It proved to be a proper strategy. Though the wood dust exploded several times during drilling inside the drill holes and I was glad to have worn protective goggles.

Before screwing the boards, I cleaned all the surfaces, took off all the sharp edges, and varnished the surfaces on which I had cut the boards. Since the wooden boards were very thick, the screwing of the boards was very difficult as well. One screw lost its head. May it rest in peace in our new Cha Pan!

It is finished!

With great pride, I announced Ning-Ning that I had completed our new Cha Pan. She did not hesitate for a moment and dipped a glass of water directly over it. A few drops landet on the table, but she was satisfied.

I myself like our new Cha Pan very much. It smells of bamboo, looks nice and I have built it myself with much effort and diligence.

The author

Boris Diakur

ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier

Boris likes both robust black and delicate white tea. Recently he discovered his passion for rare Korean tea.

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