THE ART OF CHAWAN
Chawan are fascinating bowls made of traditional ceramics and used to drink tea, usually matcha, which have come to us from Japan.
The Japanese fondness for these pieces is very old. It is said that they come from China and were introduced in the country more than 800 years ago. Today they captivate in the West for use in the tea ceremony or simply to put stillness and mental calm in our day at the time of taking this ancient drink and experience it as it deserves.
Along with tea, the Chinese brought to Japan these beautiful bowls that were considered the best for preparing tea. The name chawan comes precisely from the Chinese term for this drink: Cha.
WHERE CHAWAN COMES FROM
Along with tea, the Chinese brought to Japan beautiful ceramic bowls known as Chawan. These bowls were considered the best for preparing tea. The name comes precisely from the Chinese term for this beverage: Cha. “Cup or bowl for tea”.
The Chawan is considered a very important part of Japan’s national heritage. Having one makes drinking tea a special experience. It elevates the everyday bowl to a work of art. In fact, there are eight pieces considered National Treasures of Japan.
Although any everyday bowl can perform the functions of a chawan, tea enthusiasts can spend thousands of euros on these pieces.
The most sought-after Chawan are perhaps those created in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). They are made according to the Raku, Hagi and Karatsu styles of pottery, which are famous for their high quality. Some of these very old pieces are still used today in tea ceremonies.
Fortunately nowadays, in addition to Japan, there are artists in the West who have learned this art and make works of great quality, worthy heirs of this Japanese tradition. Making them affordable to people who otherwise could not afford it.
WHAT THEY ARE USED FOR
Chawan are mainly used to prepare matcha tea, although they are also used with other types of tea.
Matcha is a type of powdered green tea made from the dried leaves that dissolves directly in hot water. It is very rich in antioxidants and has great benefits. You can read more about this type of tea here.
The hot water is poured and then a small amount of matcha is added and stirred with a bamboo whisk called Chasen.
Tea drinking in the traditional way is a learning process that requires not only all the right information but, in the case of the tea ceremony, it must be learned in person.
It is important to choose a suitable bowl for this purpose, as it will allow the whisk to move easily. Below we explain what is necessary to choose the type of Chawan.
This utensil, which has a series of thin rods, is traditionally made from a single piece of bamboo. Let’s say that what it does is whisk the mixture, makes the matcha dissolve properly and also provides a nice foam.
It is used by means of an angular movement, not in circles, as would be the case with a traditional spoon.
While we drink our tea it is kept on the side, because if we drink it slowly we give time for the matcha particles to settle and we have to stir again. Let’s say that these tea particles are in suspension, not dissolved as would be the case with sugar in water.
A work made in ceramic with which we are intimate and that will last us a long time is a way to break with the inertia of consuming, using and throwing away. These millenary bowls are part of the culture that transmits the opposite: choose our own and let it accompany us throughout the years.
We present a gallery of selected works by artists with a long career working with Japanese ceramics and to whom we want to bring visibility from here.
Keep in mind the tips above when choosing your chawan bowl but remember that we can also leave the practical side a little aside and choose one that captivates us without further ado.
Discover pieces that embody the art of chawan and enjoying tea.
Artista: Wild Clay Works
Temmoku ceramic chawan
Marbled tea bowl chawan
Artist: GV Keramika
Chawan with Chasen, stand and spoon
Artist: Soboku Mugs
Chawan Handmade Matcha Tea Bowl
Matcha bowl, Chasen and spoon set
Artist: Tangping Tea