Japanese Tea Sets are one of the prized heirloom pieces in Asia because of their lasting quality, and timeless, usually rare, designs being one of Asia’s oldest and finest handicrafts. Using them for serving Japanese green tea or black tea is not just best left as an Asian tradition, as each of them is, basically, made to bring out the best flavor and aroma of high-grade or low-grade Japanese tea, which is key to giving yourself and your guests the finest tea-drinking experience.
So whether you are looking to have at least one (1) set of Japanese tea set for social entertaining, or shop them for gifts, these tips on how to shop Japanese tea sets are meant to serve as your guide as to what to look for or remember in buying a Japanese tea set.
Quickly Streamline Your Selection According to the Number of Bowls in a Set
Japanese tea sets, typically, come as a set of three (3) or five (5), which include a tea pot and two (2) or four (4) pieces of tea bowls, respectively. When looking one to give as wedding gifts or for serving tea for two, quickly streamline your selection by choosing one with two (2) bowls would be a perfect choice, but if you think of using them for social entertaining, them a set of five, or with four (4) bowls, would be a great way to start.
Determine How the Tea Bowl’s Shape, Thickness, and Size Will Suit Your Need
Japanese teas are, traditionally, prepared and served on bowls, and the latter’s shape, thickness, and size need to be considered together because they help to bring out the unique characteristics of a Japanese tea and serve, as well, as your guide on the appropriate serving size of tea.
Tea bowls with taller than wide shape and thick walls are, generally, preferred for everyday use and casual tea drinking as they are more easy to hold than the other tea bowl styles, especially that the most popular varieties for everyday tea drinking in Japan, like the Bancha and Hojicha, are served hot. Half-circle-shaped or bell-shaped tea bowls that are small in size and matched with tea pots with a straight handle on one side, on the other hand, are a classic choice for the aromatic and high-grade teas, like the Sencha and Matcha, as their wide rim helps the latter’s aroma to escape and linger easily, while those that sport a bigger size are usually chosen for the low-grade Japanese tea types.
When serving Japanese tea, or gifting tea bowls during summer or winter, consider – in addition – the latter’s depth and diameter at the rim: Shallow tea bowls with a rim that is wider than the average bowls for tea are a typical choice for summer as they help the tea to cool easily, while those which are deeper and have a narrow rim are used for winter as they help to keep the tea warm for a long time.
Think About How Its Tea Bowl’s Color Will Influence the Natural Shade of a Japanese Tea
There’s definitely more to a Japanese tea bowl’s color, which range from white, grayish white, and black to everything-in-between than answering your design aesthetics as you can also take advantage of the same to make your Japanese green tea or black tea look more delicious.
Bowls with white interior surface are a basic choice and highly popular because they are believed to show the natural color of tea and make tea look more palatable, but you can definitely try bowls which are colored on the inside, especially to match your mood, the season, or a special occasion.
Check the Smoothness of the Inner Surface of a Tea Bowl
Japanese tea bowls, being made usually from ceramics, porcelain, or cast iron, normally have a smooth inner surface. However, slight imperfections are sometimes inevitable, like the bottom of the inside of the bowl may feel gritty or a part of the rim may have a rough edge, but this should not be a problem at all if you can work the bamboo whisk with ease and without breaking, or drinking from it does not pose a discomfort.
Ensure that the Foot of the Bowl is Balanced and Smooth
While the foot of Japanese tea bowls come in different styles, it is best to ensure that the latter is balanced and smooth to prevent your tea bowl from rocking while you are whisking or from scratching delicate surfaces, like its tray or a lacquered tabletop. When shopping online, be sure to look for the image of the reverse or bottom side of the tea pot and tea bowls, so you’ll know if they can properly stand on a tabletop, especially when intending to use them on special occasions.
Enjoy shopping for your Japanese tea set and undermine the symbolism or Asian meaning of a tea set’s featured motif, if you can, so you can better personalize your choice of design, and don’t be surprised to love one that you think you did not like at first glance as each of them is, essentially, a fine Asian masterpiece that you will definitely be proud to hand down onto the next generations, or wrap as a special occasion Asian gift.