In this article, I will discuss the things I would personally immediately buy if I had to start over with a life of tea. So I'll start over with everything I know now, but have no teaware at all. To make it more fun, I will supply a free or low-cost substitute as well, which you can get immediately for your own journey!
All of the items on this list are available in the shop and are actually one of the reasons I created this space on the web. I missed a shop where I could get all things tea at once, without having to scramble it together from all kinds of different shops. Coasters and cloths I couldn't get at any tea shop, but were definitly items I needed for my tea practice. That's why you do find them in this tea shop, along with these amazing items listed below.
1. Tea tray
This humble tea tray is as simple as it is useful. A plank with four upright borders and a gap to slide tea in a vessel, bowl or tea scoop. I use when I'm breaking up a cake of pu erh tea. All the little tea crumbs I can now slide into the tea scoop along with the cake pieces. No tea goes to waste! It also protects your working area from pot marks when prying open hard cakes. And it protects your tea from any water, dirt, and dust that might be on your counter.
It makes me feel really good to use this tea tray, but of course, you can go without, as goes for all items in this article. Just use an old plate and you're good to go.
2. Pu erh pick
When dealing with pu erh cakes and bricks, it is nice to have a specific tool that makes the job easier. Especially tight bricks of puer or dian hong can be a hassle to break apart with a fork. In these cases, a pu erh tea pick definitely comes to the rescue!
I like the wooden ones. They are cheap, feel great to use, and are very sturdy. I still use the one I bought in 2015, when I just got started! And yes, you can also use a fork, ice pick or clean screwdriver. But if you're looking for something to make the task easier, this is your go to.
Let's be honest, I've spent hundreds of Euros on fake and low-quality items, especially teapots. But if I could start over, I'd immediately buy an original mines clay Yixing teapot. The real deal, as they're best for tea. I tell you all about the quality of Yixing teapots in this article: How to buy a good Yixing teapot.
The same goes for getting a sidehandle, the first one I'd buy would be a Xander or Petr Novak one. Buying a handmade teapot is preferable to a machine made one. This is because the best sidehandles are made by true tea lovers, who crafted it with tea ceremony in mind. It helps that I got to know these potters as great people and great artists!
If pressed for cash, the Global Tea Hut sidehandle is a nice alternative.
The most cost-effective option is to practice 'leaves in a bowl' rather than a teapot. If you are curious what "leaves in a bowl" is, visit our brewing guide.
When sitting down and having a tea ceremony, I always use a tea scoop. It is extremely useful, attractive, and brings a smile to my face every time I use it. When doing large ceremonies, I use a bowl to hold the tea. So use that if you don't want to get yourself a beautiful tea scoop. ;)
5. Stainless steel kettle
A good kettle and heat source will improve the quality of your tea, it's that simple. An electric kettle will create tea that's of lower quality than a 'normal' kettle will (I explain all this in the heat sources YouTube video). Also, a normal kettle can be used outside on a gas stove, which is amazing if you like to have tea in nature.
Starting out, I'd buy a stainless steel kettle. These are extremely sturdy, look good, and don't break the bank. I always take this one with me when traveling.
The cheaper option would be to use the kettle you alreay have at home right now! :)
What would I change about this list as a recommendation for beginners?
This list would be totally different if I wrote it for newbies. Buying an expensive Yixing teapot might not be the best idea when starting out. Not drinking pu erh would make a pick and tray useless. And buying a stovetop kettle means you'll need some sort of (portable?) stove.
I might write another blog about the details, but for newbies, I would recommend a simple porcelain teapot and some good but not too expensive teas.