A Tenmoku teacup is simple and bold, with a distinctive shape that’s inimitable. Because the shape is so simple, the focus of the piece is on its ceramic glaze and the unique patterns that it creates. But tenmoku teacups do more than simply look fantastic: they are also a great choice for drinking a wide variety of different teas. With this in mind, here’s everything you need to know about how to use a Tenmoku teacup:
What is a Tenmoku Teacup?
A tenmoku teacup, also known as a tea bowl, is used for both preparing and drinking tea. In the most simple terms, it looks just like a typical Western teacup, but with the handle removed. In Japan, tea bowls are used for formal tea drinking and preparation ceremonies, whilst in both Japan and China they are also used as an everyday drinking vessel. Many people in these regions even use their as a smaller version of their regular bowl, using it is eat rice and other small meals.
True tea enthusiasts know that choosing the vessel you will drink your tea from is just as important as choosing the tea you will put inside. The shape, weight and texture of your teacup or tea bowl will all have an influence on your tea drinking experience. The good news is that there is no specific type of tea that was specifically used in a Tenmoku tea bowl, so you are free to choose your favourite variant: a tea bowl can be used with green, black, white, herbal or matcha teas.
As well as drinking your tea from your tea bowl, you can also prepare your tea in it. Tea bowls are the perfect shape for blending and mixing tea, as well as for allowing it too cool and air before you drink it.
How to Hold a Tea Bowl
One of the main questions we are asked by customers who want to use our stunning tea bowls, as well as admire them as a piece of art, is how do you hold a tea bowl. Should they be held with one hand or two? And if you hold your bowl in just one hand, which hand should you choose?
The first thing to remember is that if you’re drinking your tea in the comfort of your own home, the choice is up to you. You should hold your tea bowl however you feel comfortable. But if you’re interested in the rich history of the tea bowl and of the Japanese tea ceremony then here is a step by step guide to holding a tea bowl correctly:
Firstly, it’s important to note that the relationship that you will develop with both your tea and your tea bowl during the ceremony is very special: both should be respected, appreciated and revered. Once you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s time to pick up your bowl!
Pick up the bowl with your right hand and then pass it to your left: you should hold it on the cushions of your fingers. Once your bowl is comfortably positioned in your left hand, turn it clockwise with your right hand until the front of the bowl faces the host who presented you with your tea. Now it’s time to drink! In a formal tea ceremony, you should empty your bowl in three and a half sips (making the last sip as noisy as possible to demonstrate that you have finished your drink), but obviously there is no need to do this in an informal environment. Finally, once you have finished drinking the tea, swipe the edge of the tea bowl with the thumb and fore finger of your right hand where you put your lips to drink tea. It’s a simple yet elegant process, and once that affords plenty of opportunity to admire the beauty of your tea cup. Tenmoku designs really are amongst the most understatedly beautiful in the world!