Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cha Dao Utensils: Cha Shao - Tea Scoop 茶勺

Cha Shao is literally translated as a tea ladle. Other translations mean teaspoon or tea scoop.
These spoons are not to be confused with cutlery. Cutlery or silverware or tableware are hand implements used in serving and preparing as well as for eating food. In the US cutlery is commonly known as silverware or flatware. Although, silverware or tableware is used when the actual cutlery is made of silver or has silver content in it. The original meaning of cutlery refers to knives or or cutting instruments. (The word cutler derives from the Middle English word 'cuteler' and this in turn derives from Old French 'coutelier' which comes from 'coutel'; meaning knife (modern French: couteau). Cutlery items usually consists of knives, forks, soup spoons, table spoons, teaspoons, demitasse spoons, fish knives, butter knives, ice tea spoons, dessert spoons, cake forks, salad forks and the containers that hold teaspoons are called spooners.
A teaspoon is usually a cutlery item used for stirring and sipping hot liquids like tea, coffee or coco. However they have been evolved to more utilitarian uses such as measuring dry and wet items.

With regards to tea scoops and tea spoons these are implements that are used to handle tea leaves from their containers into the brewing vessel. They vary in size and capacity. Some even double up as a presentation vessel for dried tea leaves.

The capacity of a tea scoop can vary between the size of a normal teaspoon and a table spoon. A teaspoonful is a unit of volume. During the 17th century tea was an expensive commodity and therefore the teacups and teaspoons were smaller. The measurement then was 1 teaspoon was about 1 fluid drahm or 1/8 fluid oz or 1/4 of a tablespoon. It was known as the Apothecaries measurement - known by the Latin cochleare minus (teaspoon) and the cochleare majis (tablespoon). However by the early 18th century the British East India Company began importing tea from China and the cost of tea declined and the unit of measurements for a teaspoon was 1/3 of a tablespoon. Tea began to move away from the Apothecaries measurement as the teacups and teaspoons for tea began to to get larger.

Tea scoops or tea spoons have become part of the Cha Dao implements and many are collectibles by the tea connaisseur. The unit of measurement today is as follows for dry volume: 

1/8 teaspoon = .5 ml =
1/4 teaspoon = 1 ml  =
1/2 teaspoon = 2 ml  = 
3/4 teaspoon = 4 ml  =
1 teaspoon = 5 ml  =
1 tablespoon = 15 ml = 
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 oz = 14.3 grams
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup = 1 oz = 28.3 grams
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup = 2 oz = 56.7 grams

Abbreviations for teaspoons are tsps and tablespoons are tbsps. Ounces are oz and grams are g.

bamboo root scoop

Bat - handcarved

Cicada carved out of a hardwood

Dragon carved scoop

Dragon carved scoop.

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