What is a Matcha Bowl?
There is nothing quite like holding a chawan (Matcha bowl) and bringing it towards your mouth to sip some Matcha tea. A large bowl only contains a small amount of tea, as per Japanese tradition. Consumption of green tea (powdered) started during the 15th century in Japan. That’s when the demand for meticulously-crafted tea bowls began, too.
Nowadays, the Japanese ceremony of tea known as “Chanoyu” maintains the tradition as another generation comes to appreciate Matcha tea (and the bowls they’re poured from). A bowl’s beauty goes beyond its designs, colors, and patterns. Tea enthusiasts and Matcha bowl collectors in Japan make selections based on a number of factors, including:
- the bowl’s shape
- the bowl’s sides (do they have a specific slope or straightness?)
- the foot ring’s styling
- the Matcha bowl’s presence on a table
- how a bowl blends in with other relevant objects in its group
A Matcha bowl’s preferences will defer per user. Their choice of bowl tends to reflect a seasonal occasion or mood. Potters design Matcha bowls using all kinds of clays, most of which are made in Japan’s pottery production regions. Traditionally, they are manually-sculpted out of local clay before being fired in gas-powered, wood, or electric kilns that don’t reach high internal temperatures. That’s why Matcha bowls tend to have soft clay structures and densities. In contrast, tea wares made of porcelain are fired up at high temperatures. Porcelain bowls have glazes that integrate with clay to produce a piece that is strong and solid.
A Matcha bowl is durable enough to contain whisking green tea (powdered). They're not strong enough, though, for teas to be consumed at hotter temperatures, like black tea. Matcha bowls aren’t intended to be a substitute teapot for loose-leaf steeping tea, either. A lot of attention is given to handmade pottery in Japan, as each piece contains unique characteristics. Glaze-embedded finger marks, moderately lopsided lips, and runny glazes say a lot about the character of the tea bowl maker. A manually-produced Matcha bowl has a simplicity to it that is quite appealing. They usually have a humble, natural style and a rustic, unbalanced form. Glazed cracks can be developed on Matcha bowls based on the clay type. Cracks that show up on a glaze when used (rather than pre-existing clay body cracks) don’t weaken or leak the vessel. Tea enthusiasts hold glaze cracks in great regard, as do tea ware potters and collectors. To them, the self-patterning surface appearance is an articulation of the clay’s “voice.” Every pottery piece becomes different once the glaze forms crack patterns out of use.
Matcha bowl ownership warrants careful use and mindful handling.
Refrain from putting Matcha bowls in dishwashers and microwaves. Tea bowls such as these should be rinsed with warm water before air-drying it on a countertop (probably on a towel). Using a Matcha bowl for anything besides green tea (powdered) could introduce hot water into the bowl. This will result in undesired glaze cracking developments. Be mindful that some Matcha bowl foot rings are purposely not glazed. As such, the texture may be a little rough. Although foot rings like these are usually desirable, a chawan should rest on a coaster or mat. This is to protect surfaces made of stainless steel or wood - including countertops - so that the bottom of an unglazed bowl does not scratch it.
Each Matcha bowl of ours was produced in Japan.