Japanese Tea Trays Guide

There are two types of Japanese tea trays, with each designed for chanoyu (tea ceremony) and everyday use.

In Japan, tea trays are used to carry cups and other items when serving tea. There are several different types used in Japan.

For example, there are trays designed for use in chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, as well as more utilitarian models used for everyday.

Chanoyu Use

In the Japanese tea ceremony, it is vital to have the proper utensils, including the right types of trays.

Trays used in the Japanese tea ceremony are classified by their shape and by how they are used in the ceremony.

Here are the main types:


A hakkebon is a round tray covered in black lacquer. The tray is used to hold the tea bowl and the tea container during some Japanese tea ceremonies.

The inside of the tray is decorated with an inlay that illustrates the eight trigams derived from the Chinese I Ching, arranged in a circular pattern called the Inner World arrangement.

This arrangement represents natural cycles including the cycle of the seasons, night and day and life itself.


This is a round tray with a wavy lip. It is used to carry the tea bowl and tea container during certain types of tea ceremonies.


A square tray that is usually used for serving dry sweets.


A tray decorated with a floral design.

Everyday Use

Everyday tea trays are available in many shapes and patterns.

Most are lacquered, and they can be either simple or highly patterned. These trays can be used to easily carry tea pots and tea cups.

They also make an attractive serving dish for sweets and snacks.

For example, this attractive Black Lacquer Serving Tray from Teavana has convenient handles on the side.

It is also large enough to carry a tea pot and cups from one place to another. Covered with shiny black lacquer, it is an excellent example of a traditional Japanese tea tray.

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Wikipedia: List of Japanese Tea Ceremony Equipment.

Kane, Daniel R. The Epic of Tea: Tea Ceremony as the Mythological Journey of the Hero. http://www.myjapaneseteahouse.com/epicoftea.htm

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