The biggest difference between traditional Japanese tea cups and Western tea cups is that Japanese tea cups have no handle. There are two kinds of Japanese tea “cups” – yunomi, which are tall cylindrical cups, and chawan, wide bowls used to drink matcha in the Japanese tea ceremony. Unlike a chawan, a yunomi can be used for everyday tea drinking at your home or even at work. Japanese tea cups come in all kinds of styles and glazes, from white porcelain, to iron black, and unglazed clay. Like Western tea cups, however, there can be a huge range in prices for a single piece. A mass-produced factory yunomi are quite affordable, but a quality yunomi made by a master can cost over 10,000 yen.
When buying a Japanese tea cup, you should not only consider the style but also hold it in your hands and try imagine yourself drinking tea from it. The evolution of traditional Japanese tea cups can be traced through the Japanese pottery styles of yore—let’s examine the top five types.