Potters fashion Matcha bowls from various clay in all of the famous pottery making areas of Japan. They are traditionally hand-built from local clay that has been fired in wood, electric or gas-fired kilns that do not reach a high internal temperature. As such, Matcha bowls are softer in density and clay structure than porcelain tea wares, which are fired at a very high temperature and whose glaze has bonded with the clay to create a hard, durable piece.
Matcha bowls are made for whisking and drinking powdered green tea and are durable for this use, but are not meant for drinking hotter-temperature types of tea such as black tea. Nor are they meant to be used as a teapot substitute for steeping loose-leaf tea. They are also not meant to be used as a cereal, fruit, or ice cream bowl, even though they are beautiful as that – because they will chip readily from contact with the spoon necessary to eat those foods.
In Japan and Korea much attention is paid to the unique characteristics of handmade pottery, and this includes all of the variables that make a handmade piece unique. A drippy glaze, a slightly lopsided lip, a finger mark in the glaze, etc, are examples of character that show the ‘hand’ of the maker.
Matcha bowls can develop glaze cracks on the inside and outside surfaces of the bowl, depending on the type of clay and the type of glaze the bowl has been given. Cracks that appear only in the glaze with use (as opposed to cracks in the actual clay body) do not leak or weaken the vessel. Glaze cracks are held in high regard by tea drinkers, tea wares collectors and potters. It is the ‘voice of the clay’ speaking, and is viewed as the piece contributing some ‘self-patterning’ to the surface appearance. No two pieces of pottery will ever be exactly the same when the glaze develops a unique pattern of distinguishing glaze cracks from use.
Owning a Matcha bowl requires thoughtful handling and careful use.
Matcha bowls are not intended for use in a microwave or dishwasher. These tea bowls are meant to be simply rinsed and air-dried on a kitchen towel on the counter-top after use. Using Matcha bowls for tea other than powdered green tea can result in introducing water to the bowl that is too hot – this will encourage too much glaze cracking to develop.
Please be aware that some foot-rings on Matcha bowls are intentionally not glazed and that un-glazed clay can be rough. While foot-rings such as these are considered desirable, one should take care to protect wooden table surfaces, counter-tops, and stainless-steel surfaces from being scratched.
Matcha bowls are traditionally placed on a ‘coaster’ both during use and while in storage. This coaster can be made from fabric, wood, bamboo, or any appropriate material.