A good tea set is not complete without its corresponding tea tray. This is an accessory that is not so common in many countries (because tea is usually consumed in a more improvised and informal way). Still, in other cultures, the tea tray is as important an element as the teapot itself or the cup from which it is drunk.
Not surprisingly, it is common to use any standard kitchen tray; even many coffee trays are used for this purpose, as a multi-purpose holder for any occasion.
But if we are purists and strict with tradition, it makes no sense to make tea or prepare it for our guests often and not have a specific tea tray. And it’s not that expensive either.
In this guide, we are going to know what types of tea trays are available on the market and what are the main differences between them. It is true that many times we decide on one model or another simply for aesthetics, but behind each kind of tray, there is a story and certain arguments.
If you want to buy a tea tray on Amazon, these are the most common options:
You can also find them in bazaars and general gift shops, but they are usually standard models already included in a complete tea set.
Wooden tea trays
We begin our review with wooden tea trays, perhaps the most traditional and the ones we most associate with the tea ritual of the Far East (China and Japan). with the tea rite of the Far East (China and Japan).
The main characteristic of wooden tea trays is that in these countries, they are used not only to serve tea but also to brew it. What does this mean? It means that the tea is prepared on the same tray and also poured into the bowls or cups of the other guests.
For this reason, the trays have a removable shelf with a grid (like the drip racks in coffee makers) that allows the tea remains and spills to be collected at the bottom without making a mess.
It should also be noted that these are almost always bamboo tea trays. If we are looking for a real one, it will have to be made of bamboo.
When the service is finished, bamboo tea trays can be cleaned, rinsed and dried without altering their appearance and properties over time.
As you will notice, most of them are rectangular, but you can also find some examples of round wooden tea trays. The latter is not intended for brewing but only for serving. They do not have a non-spill system.
Metal tea tray
At the other extreme are metal tea trays. These are more typical of the tea culture of the Middle East (Turkey, Morocco, Arabia) and are usually round and have a great profusion of ornaments and decorations. In other words, they are much more ornate than the sober Japanese bamboo trays.
Another of their characteristics is that they have a rim (depth) to prevent the tea or the ingredient we have on top from falling on the floor if there is a spill. Moroccan tea trays are a great example of this.
Metal tea trays are generally used in these countries to serve tea in individual cups or glasses already served together with the teapot and sugar. However, they are not used in the brewing process. Their size is usually around 30 to 35 cm in diameter.
Stone tea trays with concealed drainage
These can almost be considered as rarities or luxury items. They are tea trays made of natural stone, available in various sizes and designs, which in many cases have hidden drainage. In other words, they are designed to prepare and serve tea on top of them, as is typical of Chinese and Japanese tradition.
The main drawback of stone tea trays is the price, of course, but in return, you can be sure that you will be buying a tea tray for life.
What should you consider before buying a tea tray?
If you’re determined to buy a tea tray on Amazon, think carefully about the following details:
- Size: especially bamboo and stone trays are usually available in various sizes to choose from. You should choose one that will fit the teapot and all the cups or glasses of the guests who are going to participate.
- Material: There are three common materials for specific tea trays. Wooden (bamboo) ones are usually more practical, simple and economical. Silver or stainless steel are more expensive but also more ornamental. The stone ones are a beautiful concession to luxury and are ideal for gifts.
- Aesthetics: tea trays often have a visual and ornamental component. This factor will depend on whether the tray is to be stored away when not in use, or displayed as a decorative element.
The best tea tray: Our recommendation
Well, the truth is that the different types of tea trays we have seen on this page don’t have much to do with each other, they respond mainly to different cultures, and each material has its own advantages, so it wouldn’t be fair to say that some are better than others.
If we had to choose one as the best tea tray, we would opt for this model (or one very similar):
This bamboo tea tray is practical, it’s sturdy, it’s beautiful, it’s easy to clean, and it’s great value for money. What more could you ask for?