According to artist Allan Buitekant who makes them in his studio in Union Mills, North Carolina a Cha Hai probably originated in Taiwan for use during the preparation of Chinese Tea. The Chinese, unlike Westerners, make tea in smaller teapots. The famous “Yixing” teapots are renowned for this purpose although any small teapot will do. The reason for these small teapots is to keep the tea from over brewing. Enough tea is brewed to be consumed immediately. The common large teapot is useful when serving a few people, so that all the tea is poured when serving. If, however, some tea remains for future pouring it gets bitter. The Chinese method allows for numerous infusions depending upon the tea.
"I have had as many as 7 infusions from some teas," says Buitekant. "When the tea reaches the right moment it is poured into the Chahai and then poured into the small teacups used. This is repeated as many times as desired with the tea always tasting delicious. Interestingly, as the continuous brewing occurs the tea changes character allowing for a pleasant, and changing, tasting experience. The Chahai is also used when preparing Green Tea, which requires cooler water. One pours the boiling water into the Chahai and then pours it into the teapot over the leaves, thus cooling the water in the process. --Allan Buitekant
(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved