IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE A BAMBOO TEA TRAY
Bamboos are native plants grown primarily in East Asia, a place known for its humid climates all year round. If you choose to use a bamboo tea tray as part of the tea making ceremony in the United States, be aware of the humidity levels in your house. United States have very dry climates and the humidity levels are extremely low in comparison to Asia. Bamboo tea trays can dry up quickly, change shapes and consequently, crack as a result of the wooden contractions.
To extend the shelf life of your bamboo tea tray, make sure you do or don't do the following.
- The tea tray should not be placed near a heater or in a room where the heater is turned on.
- That tea tray needs to be used frequently. Storing the bamboo tea trays in cabinets for long periods of time is a bad idea. Using it constantly will keep it under moist conditions. If the tea tray has a liner on top, make sure there is always water inside the tray. Fill it up with clean, fresh water across the bottom surface. Think of it as the swimming pool in your backyard. Do not let it dry up. Adding some lukewarm water from time to time is also good for the liner since the steam of the water will keep the liner moist and well expanded. Trays that do not have a liner at top usually are made of thicker parts so they do not crack as easily as the liner counterparts. Still, you need to use it frequently. How frequent? It really depends on where you live in the United States. Winter tends to be dry and cold so bamboo trays are more prone to cracking in this season.
- Always discard the water left inside the tray after finishing the tea making process or else things like mildew will grow.
- Bamboo trays are made of pieces that are held together by glue so do not use harsh detergents to scrub the tray or soak the tray in the water.
- Beware of the drastic changes in the air's humidity level that the tray undergoes. Keep extreme expansion and contraction of the bamboo itself at minimum.
If you have done all of the above and the tray still cracks, do not despair and throw the tray away! Get a waterproof sealant for wood materials from a hardware store and seal the crack. It should still be usable.
The alternative is to opt for a metal, plastic or clay tea tray if you do not want to undergo such troubles. Bamboos just do not adapt to the dry climates well.