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The Arbor Teas Blog

Zen and the Art of the Matcha Tea Bowl

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The matcha tea bowl is entirely different from other teacups, particularly European-style cups, and the narrower, more delicate, Chinese-style teacups called chawans.

Raku-style tea bowlThe matcha tea bowl, or matcha jawan, was developed in the 16th century by Sen no Rikyū the tea master credited for establishing the Japanese tea ceremony, the meditative practice of making and enjoying matcha tea, in collaboration with a Kyoto tile maker Chōjirō.

The style they developed became known as Raku.

Raku teaware is famous for its rustic wabi-sabi qualities that emphasize simplicity, natural imperfections, and the colors and textures that echo those of the natural world. In fact, the Raku-style matcha tea bowl is said to be a “microcosm within your hands.”

Originally, the Raku-style matcha tea bowl was seen as a rejection of traditional beauty standards in favor of the natural. In fact, “wabi” means “not to be in the fashionable society” whereas “sabi” means “aloneness” or “solitude.”

Today, bowls that follow the Raku style, with a wide base and smooth interior, are desired not only for their aesthetic qualities but their practicalities. If you’ve ever tried to whisk matcha in a regular teacup, you’ve likely wanted for a cup with a wider base – really, a bowl – which with to whip up your matcha to frothy perfection.
Contemporary matcha bowl by Arbor Teas

So get your own matcha tea bowl and ponder these facts:

In the Zen tradition, each tea bowl is given its own name, and is said to have its own personality and unique existence.

The colors and textures of a matcha tea bowl, which change over time, are referred to as its “scenery.”

Matcha tea bowls are designed to fit into the palm of your hand, which is perfect for sipping and sharing a bowl of matcha