I really like my travel gaiwan set. Since it came my way in May of last year, my tea experience when out and about has improved greatly.
Chuck in a fistful of large tea filter bags for super casual steeping in a handy mug and you have a more-or-less bulletproof brewing system that can take care of the vast majority of leaves you could possibly want to throw at it.
Yes, I really like my travel gaiwan set, but…
Well, take the gong dao bei, for instance. Unless you get the pour angle just so, then you’re likely to have a serious dribble on your hands. Those cups are a wee bit on the small side for a solitary drinker, too. I swapped out the five for one slightly larger one, but it still wasn’t ideal.
Small niggles, it has to be said, especially when the upside is the ability to easily gong-fu good gear on the go, but still…
Which brings me to our Easter 2018 trip to Britain.
Our first base of operations was Reading. Diagonally opposite our hotel was a small Chinese supermarket, and I popped in more out of curiosity than the expectation that I’d score for anything worthwhile. I was soon glad that I did!
In the small tea section I was somewhat surprised to see a push-button, easy style tea infuser, made by a company called Kamjove. It was their Model TP-140, and was mine for a very reasonable £8.50!
The TP-140 is very similar to my Sama Doyo, with the exception that it sports a “half size” bottom section, which has room for one 300ml charge from the upper infusion chamber.
Back at the hotel, after giving it a quick rinse I fired up the kettle in our room and gave it a run out with a Da Hong Pao Oolong that I’d brought from home. It has to be said that it performed every bit as well as the more expensive Sama Doyo I had at home, and I enjoyed a 6 steeping mini-session whilst gazing out over the rooftops of central Reading.
Still, that cup…
After 5 days in Reading we upped sticks to London for the remainder of our holiday, and one of the first things I did was to visit Chinatown. As I hoped for one of the supermarkets on Gerrard Street was able to sell me a cheap, sturdy, but not quite perfectly round red rose Mun Shou pattern teacup.
This pairing of cup and infuser worked so well that the travel gaiwan set never got a look-in the whole time we were away. On the last night of the trip, a one-nighter in Brussels, during one final holiday session with the last of the Da Hong Pao, it seemed apparent that the new kit had made an excellent case for itself to be the default teaware to be taken on the road in future. Post session I washed and dried the teaware as best you can in a hotel bathroom, and packed it away ready for the long trek Northwards the next day.
Thankfully, the Kamjove’s packaging of heavy duty cardboard and bubble-wrap was sufficiently resilient to see it back home intact. I know that I’ll have to come up with a more permanent solution to carting it around, though.
The teacup made the trip safely cocooned in the tea towel I bought at Mei Leaf.
So far so good, then, but the real test will come in the summer. Let’s see how this new kit holds up against sea spray, cliffs, cats, and forest…