Charyo (scoops for green tea leaves) (茶量)

Charyo is a type of utensil used in Senchado (Japanese tea ceremony using Sencha [brewed green tea]). Depending on schools, it is called 'chago,' 'senbai,' 'chasoku,' and 'chakei'. Chasaji (tea spoon) is a similar utensil as charyo.

It has a shape of halved cylinder. It is generally made of bamboo, and sometimes made of wood, metal, ivory and precious stone.

It is used to take out tea leaves from chatsubo (tea urn) and put into kyusu (small teapot). It is a convenient utensil that amount of tea leaves can be checked with eye from above described shape.

Most of Senchado utensils are of Chinese origin, but this charyo is a utensil of Japanese origin. There is some charyo which is a 'karamono' (things imported from China). However, many of them are not suited for the use as they are conversion of bamboo used for ude-makura (arm rest to avoid staining sleeve) that is used in Calligraphy, in mainland China.

An established theory for the origin of charyo is that the utensil was designed by Baisao (a monk of Obakushu sect) in the middle of the Edo period for convenience of measuring and pouring in of tea leaves. Charyo is designed by Baisao whose motto was simplicity and honorable poverty therefore it is believed that charyo was a simple utensil of bamboo that was divided two or three times in appropriate size. The shape is still used at present days.

Later on charyo with Chinese style poem or Chinese style sculpture on the backside came into fashion as a literatures' hobby. The works of famous literati and craftsman were traded with high price.

Comparison with Chinese tea. Now, there is a similar utensil called 'chasoku' (scoops for green tea leaves) in Chinese tea, but the shape is not similar to charyo as they are in spoon shaped or shovel shaped. Chashaku (bamboo tea spoon for making tea) is also used in Chinese tea depending on type of the tea.

[Original Japanese]