The majority of tea coasters in Korea are made of wood. They come from a transverse cut of the trunk or large branches of a tree. Often the bark is left on the edges. Korean wood coasters are modest, simple, and natural, as such, they capture the essence of the Korean way of tea.
One of the reasons why wood coasters are so popular in Korea is because they are made of readily available substance and anyone can make them. Because they are simple and economical they carry with them a certain modesty.
Although they are common, no two wood tea coasters are the same. Also because no tree is perfectly symmetrical, they reflect natural asymmetry. In each, there is much natural beauty. Wood coasters, unlike metal or ceramic coasters, add more of a natural feel to a tea space. They are especially useful in situations where teacups would be placed on surfaces other than wood- such as on a fake wood or laminate covered table, and to a lesser extent, a stone surface.
Wood energy is the same energy of tea- tea leaves come from wood branches. In this way the energy of wood in a tea space acts to harmonize and/or fortify the energetics of tea.
Just as ceramic coasters are always changing with use, wood coasters are also always in a state of change. Wood tea coasters absorb the tea that spills over it. Over time and with use, the look and feel of wood tea coasters change as the energy of the tea is captured within it.
Saw many different kinds of wood coasters on my recent trip. One wood artist that exhibited at Mungyeong had many hand hewn coasters on display along with his marvelous tea tables. That fair is a feast for the eyes for the tea drinker. I love the way the Koreans fashion their tea gear. From the bamboo tools to the strainers and coasters, all add to the rustic yet refined feeling of the tea table.
"Rustic, yet refined"
Koreans seem to strike a balance here that pays off in the arrangement of their tea space.
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