Chataku (tea bowl saucer) (茶托)

Chataku is a tea bowl saucer. However it is not an essential item to have a cup of tea and not commonly used in daily life. On the contrary, it is always used to serve guests to show respect. It is not used for tea bowl for drinking Matcha (powdered green tea).
(However there is a tea utensil, similar to chataku, called Tenmokudai [a tea-bowl stand] in Sado [Japanese tea ceremony].)

Instead of chataku, a saucer in same pattern as the teacup is used for European style drinks like a cup of black tea or coffee.

Chataku in Senchado (Japanese tea ceremony using Sencha [brewed green tea])
Different name
Chataku is also called in various names such as 'takushi,' 'chadai,' 'chatakushi' and 'nokei,' depending on schools.

It is believed that there was no utensil equivalent for chataku in Japanese Senchado, which originate in Senchaho (method of green tea) introduced from Ming Dynasty. The presumed manner is that tea bowls were all put on a tray and each guest takes a tea bowl from the tray. Import of sakazuki (drinking cup) and sakazuki-dai (stand for sakazuki) from Qing Dynasty started in the middle of the Edo period. It is believed that a sakazuki-dai stand was transferred to chataku in Japanese Senchaho, together with sakazuki to tea bowl. Majority of imported sakazuki-dai was made by tin, therefore tin chataku is considered the finest in Japanese Senchado until today. Later on wooden chataku are also produced.

A classification by the material are as follows:

Unbleached or Uncolored
Lacquer ware
Rattan or Bamboo
A classification by the shape are as follows:
Mokko (Chaenomeles) shape
Boat shape

Tin chataku is used for smaller tea bowl, which is used for high-class tea such as Sencha (green tea of middle grade) and Gyokuro (refined green tea). Proper use of wooden chataku is for larger tea bowls, which is used for casual tea such as Bancha (coarse tea). However, many wooden chataku, such as with wajima-nuri lacquerware and Kamakura-bori (articles chiseled in hardwood and repeatedly lacquered in black and vermilion) are priced far more higher than tin chataku.

As for tin chataku, the older and blackened is valued higher in Senchado. Also round shaped chataku is said to be better than oval shaped. Chinese tin chataku with inscriptions, such as '張星栄造' (Choseieizo), '肖天泰' (Shotentai) and '乾茂号造' (Kanmogozo), and Japanese tin chataku created by Zoroku HATA, are traded with high price.

Attention to manner
The manner varies with the schools; a school recommends lying tea bowl upside down on to chataku after finish drinking tea, while other strictly forbids doing so as tea staining will stain chataku.

Chataku for Chinese tea
In China, a custom of tea drinking started in the Tang period and is believed that there was a utensil equivalent to chataku, so drinker do not need to hold tea bowl containing boiling water. However the utensil had disappeared due to change in the way of having tea in later period, and is restored by art of tea in recent years.

There are some forms in chataku, such as round shaped chataku only for placing chahai (drinking cup for tea), and oval or rectangular shaped for placing chahai and monkohai (drinking cup for tea especially for enjoying tea scent before drinking). The materials are wooden, metals or ceramic, and so on.

Chataku for Sencha often have a concavity matched to kodai (the base section of a teacup) of tea bowl, but majority of chataku for Chinese tea has a simple shape of small plate or tray.

[Original Japanese]