Japanese tea sets are considered today as a status symbol in Japanese and Asian homes, and they come in certain shapes and a great variety of colors, sizes, and styles, both to give every tea enthusiast a fine tea-drinking experience and the chance to enjoy the creativity and ingenuity of the Japanese potters and artists in creating superior quality tea pots, tea bowls, and tea cups, which transcend both time and culture.
A Basic Guide to the Shapes of Japanese Tea Bowls
The relationship between Japanese tea bowls, also known as Chawan, and Japanese teas can be slightly compared to that of wines and wine glasses, or of beer and beer steins, in that their shapes, basically answer the preparation, serving requirement, and serving temperature needs of specific or certain varieties of Japanese tea, which, in effect, brings out the best flavor and aroma of the latter, as well as answer the needs of their user.
The Common Shapes of Japanese Bowls for Tea
Japanese bowls for tea are found in various shapes, among which are half-circle shaped; circle-shaped, which is usually distinguished for its tapered rim; cylindrical, which are usually found among the everyday tea cups, called Yunomi; half-cylindrical, which appears almost rectangular due to its low height and the equal diameter of the bowl from the bottom to the rim; funnel-shaped, which includes the shallow but wide summer tea bowls; inverted bell-shaped; triangular, and square-shaped, among many others.
Which Shape to Choose when Preparing or Serving a Japanese Tea?
Basically, it depends upon a few factors, like the:
The Type of Japanese Tea: Aromatic varieties, like the Ryokucha and Sencha, for instance, are usually served on the half-circle or bell-shaped bowls, which wide and concave rim allows their aroma to escape and linger easily, while the same shapes are preferred for preparing and serving the Matcha, or the powdered green tea that is used during Japanese tea ceremonies, as their wide bowl shape allows a good space for the bamboo tea whisk to be worked with ease and to efficiently mix water and Matcha together without spilling.
The Bancha and Hojicha, on the other hand, are customarily served on a Yunomi as its taller than wide shape not only proves easy to hold for everyday tea drinking, their generally thick walls also helps to keep the Bancha and Hojicha warm for a long time.
The Season: Low and wide-rimmed bowls are used in summer, which allow tea to cool easily, while the narrow and tall varieties are used during the winter to keep the tea warm for a long time.
The Occasion: Certain Chawan flaunt a rare shape, like the diamond-shaped tea bowls, which some people reserve for special occasions or choose according to their design aesthetics, or are designed for a purpose, like the Rider’s Cup, which tall stem or foot makes them convenient for the ancient horse-riders to drink tea from.
Pick the Right Japanese Bowl for Your Tea
Enjoy drinking your Japanese tea on the right tea bowl shape and don’t stop there though: Pick the shade, color, and style of tea bowl that suits your style, the occasion, or your guest; the appropriate size for serving a specific type of tea; and, don’t be afraid to try those in fancy shapes to make your tea drinking experience more fun and exciting.