My Japanese tea ceremony instructor bought this kit at the <a href="[...]">Freer Gallery</a>`s gift shop to see what kind of quality would be available from a national museum specializing in Asian art. The answer: horribly disappointing. The only thing decent about it is the included book. The tea bowl is wrong, the incense is wrong, the whisk is quite wrong, and the fukusa is hideously, hideously wrong. The kit seems to be targeted toward clueless hippies.
The tea bowl was the item on which I was least clear what was wrong. It was too heavy for one thing, and it also didn't have glaze on the bottom.
The tines of the chasen, as you may be able to see from the product picture, are waaaaay too thick. The incense is in a stick form, which isn't right. (We haven't yet learned anything about incense or its role in chado, so I didn't know that.)
My instructor didn't even recognize the included piece of cloth as a fukusa. It was a white satin type of material, single thickness, with frayed edges. It wasn't folded right. This piece of cloth was the low point, the rock bottom, the pièce de crapitance, of the set.
You could arguably criticize the set for lacking a chashaku and natsume and matcha itself (IIRC); it can't claim to have everything you'd need for a tea ceremony. Now that I think about it, tea people could probably debate exactly what elements would constitute "everything you'd need for a tea ceremony," but I can't imagine those wouldn't include a chashaku and natsume.
The $18.90 price should probably be a giveaway. Not that "more expensive" = "higher quality", but it would just be impossible to provide any authenticity in a set that costs that little.
While I gave a more detailed critique of the 1 star review in reply to a comment, I would add here that this is, indeed, a very good introductory set for beginners. It is, of course, commercial, but well worth the $30 or less that it costs.
One point that deserves to be emphasized, though, is that the vast majority of chawan are unglazed on the foot, and I have never seen a temmoku bowl (the type in the set) which had a glazed foot. Any review that criticizes a bowl on this account reveals a lack of knowledge on the part of the reviewer.
If you're just becoming interested in cha-no-yu, this set can be a reasonable tool in your education.
I am very disappointed in this product. It was shown and discussed as an entire kit. I only received the book and would not have ordered it without the supplies for the actual tea ceremony. I am really surprised, because I have been dealing with Amazon for many years. This is the first time I have felt so frustrated and disappointed with the service.