Ever thought of a tea picnic outdoors, maybe even during a hike, instead of espresso?
There is gear for that, in the form of Alocs’ Xun Tang (Xing Yun) Camping Tea Set.
Ways of making coffee outdoors, from ultralight readymade filters to handpresso machines, have become very popular, but tea has not received much attention.
It really should – and Alocs’ Xun Tang (Xing Yun) Camping Tea Set gives an upscale possibility for it.
I had noticed this peculiar kind of outdoors gear – which fits my interest in green tea in/and East Asia only too well – at the 2018 OutDoor in Friedrichshafen, where I found it only too nice a modern take on traditions, especially as it comes from a Chinese company.
Full Disclosure: Now that I am in China, I checked it out and even got in touch with the company, and they were nice enough to send me this set as a sample (free of cost to me, without any influence on my writing).
Tea Outdoors, the Simplest Possibility
Of course, you could just boil some water whichever way you can do that, then add tea leaves. One of the old stories of how tea was discovered is, in fact, a lot like that: Tea leaves, in that tale, fell into a pot of boiled water, the resulting brew was tasted and found to be good.
For ultralight endeavors, this may be the best approach – and I am actually trying out some cookware I found very interesting for that!
The Gongfu Cha-Inspiration
There is, however, a tradition of preparing and enjoying tea in more refined ways.
This Chinese way of making tea has been upgraded into more and more of a show in artistic gongfu cha. At its basic, it is still nice, but more easily doable (and approachable) than such gongfu cha or the better-known Japanese tea ceremony.
It is actually an approach, at its basics, that is basically the same (and probably the precursor of) the Japanese way of making tea in a kyusu teapot…
What it takes, at its most basic, is a ‘pot’ with a longer handle and a lid that also serves as a tea strainer to infuse and pour the tea, and tea cups holding just 2-3 sips.
Yes, you can have (quite) a few cups; no, this is not for gulping down a cuppa, this is for appreciation and enjoyment, preferably in company!
Alocs’ (Basic) Xun Tang Tea Set
The basic version of the Alocs camping tea set only contains the preparation pot, three tea thimbles, and a storage/carry bag.
This does not include the tea tray that a more expensive, less basic, version would also come with. For the way tea is thus prepared, that tray is (well, looks, certainly) nice and is useful as a place to put down the tea cups.
Of course, it would raise the weight together with the classiness..
There is also a tea kettle and even a burner that works exactly right with that tea kettle (which can be fueled by alcohol, with a gas burner, or even with wood). Again, more to carry but also something nice.
The basic tea set is quite enough to prepare a few nice cups of tea, though.
How to Use a Teapot Like This
The way of making tea here is, well, basic. Reduced to essentials.
Put some tea leaves (about a spoonful) into the pot. Add water, at most up to a bit below the level where the lid will sit.
Put on the lid. Of course, in such a way that the ‘perforation’ in it faces the spout in front and can be used like a sieve, to keep in the tea leaves while allowing for the tea water to flow out nciely.
Let infuse for a little, then pour into the cups. Make sure you take the pot by the handle in such a way that you have your thumb on the knob on the lid, keeping that tight on the pot, and are able to turn the pot to pour the tea.
Be careful, and tell your guests to be careful, with the cups as they will be rather too hot at that point. They’ll cool down quite quickly, making it nice to try the tea.
And they’ll be ready for a refill.
Impressions and Tea Talk…
In an actual gongfu cha “ceremony,” there are versions of this where the infusion pot is first filled completely with water (or even gets water poured over it after the lid has been placed on it). This is then poured away as it only served to “wash” the tea, making it cleaner and removing the bitterness which a hot first (let alone, too-long) infusion of tea can have.
(Then hot water is added again, and this time used for an infusion of the tea that is drunk.)
By now, I have used the Alocs camping tea set quite a lot, if only at home, and it has worked perfectly well.
Sometimes, the pouring of the tea does not work perfectly, especially when I filled the pot too full. In general, though, everything works very well.
I have to admit, I am still tempted by all the accoutrements around this, and I may just have to purchase them on my own money. And there is an updated version which has tea cups that are white inside, making for a better view of the tea’s color, and all in better(?) materials.
The basic set fully suffices, though – and more, because it is a pleasure to use.
It all works perfectly well; all tea leaves are held back, the pouring works pretty well, the tea thimbles are a pleasure to use… I like it.
Admittedly, I am a big fan of green teas and East Asian tea culture, and that certainly helps with the appreciation of and for tea drinking like that.
At some point, I can easily imagine myself carrying this tea set with me, as it is intended, for a tea picnic in the great outdoors.
This tea set is available from Alocs on Amazon, for example (affiliate link; I’d get a – very small, it’s cheap – commission from a purchase via this link):