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How to Choose a Chawan

How to Choose a Chawan

Written on May 27, 2024

The chawan – matcha bowl – has been the standard way to enjoy matcha since it was first brought to Japan over 400 years ago. Matcha in a chawan is simple: add your matcha powder to the bowl, add hot water, whisk until incorporated, and drink directly from the bowl it was whisked in.

Is a chawan any different from other bowls?

A chawan is designed specifically with matcha enjoyment in mind, and matcha lovers usually prefer to drink matcha from chawans. A well-crafted chawan will enhance matcha’s fragrance and flavor, and it’s also a treat to hold and gaze at while you sip.

Ippodo Tea’s Chawan Collection

At Ippodo, we worked directly with artisans to design each of our chawans, going through many shapes and sizes of prototypes until we found the right proportions and feel. As tea specialists, it’s important to us that the chawan is easy to prepare matcha in and is a delight to use and drink from every day.

How to Choose Your Chawan

Intended Use

When choosing a chawan, the first question is, how will you use it? Will you mostly make matcha in the bowl and then drink directly from it? Then you’ll want a classic single-serving chawan. Will you primarily use it to make matcha lattes and the like by whisking in the bowl and then pouring into a glass or a mug? Then, you’ll want a larger bowl with a spout built into the side for easy pouring.

Size and Shape

Any chawan should be large enough to hold your matcha and have it not spill over the sides while vigorously whisking. At the same time, since we hold the chawan in our hands to drink from it, the size cannot be too big or unwieldy.


A chawan’s glaze, the thinness and weight, and the type of clay (rough or smooth?) affect how the matcha feels when we drink from it. For instance, in the tea ceremony, heavier, coarse clay and “rich” feeling bowls are preferred in winter—they make the matcha feel cozy, hearty, and deep. In the summer, practitioners often serve matcha in thin, smooth bowls, making matcha feel breezy, elegant, and cool.

Appearance and Aesthetics

You’ll want to think about the overall appearance and aesthetics of the bowl as well when choosing a bowl. This is a matter of personal taste, and you may gravitate towards certain chawans over others, just like how you might prefer the aura of certain paintings over others in a museum. Trust yourself, and enjoy how each chawan can bring a unique essence to your matcha experience.

Chawans from Ippodo Tea

Cream color glazed mino-yaki Chawan matcha tea bowl with subtle white hakeme brush stroke for whisking and sipping matcha
Matcha Tea Bowl - Cream (Mino-yaki)

This is a solid first single-serving chawan for beginners, and it comes included in our Essential Matcha Kit. It features a deep, wide shape that is easy to whisk in and fits perfectly in the palm.

Its smooth glaze and slightly rounded lip leave a neutral impression. We like to use it when comparing matchas side by side to understand their true character.

Its cream-like color displays matcha served in it beautifully and brightly, and it has a subtle white brush stroke glaze pattern, giving it just a little bit of character.

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Sleek shiny cone shaped speckled black glazed ceramic matcha tea bowl with light-colored unglazed base
Matcha Tea Bowl - Dark (Mino-yaki)

We developed this chawan a few years ago and it’s also included in our Deluxe Matcha Kit. It’s formed in a slightly tapered shape, with a thin lip that makes matcha feel elegant and elevated.

The glaze is glassy and deep: a dark brown-to-black color with tiny flecks that can be seen when viewed up close. It forms a beautiful contrast to matcha’s brilliant green. We recommend this bowl to those looking to experience their favorite usual matcha in a new way.

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Artisan-made ceramic speckled white matcha tea bowl with hand groove and serving spout made from Mino-yaki Japanese clay
Tea Bowl with Spout - White (Mino-yaki)

The third bowl in our collection is designed for pouring, with a spout built right into the side.

It comes in either a black or smoky white. The clay used is rough and textured, and the bowl feels hefty in the hands while pouring. Its deep body lets us quickly whisk up to three portions of matcha at once.

We recommend this chawan for those who like making matcha lattes, cocktails, and other creations to serve in glasses, mugs, and espresso cups.

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Read next: How to Make a Matcha Latte.

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