The chabu or tea runner/cloth will often be one of the first elements we look to. It will play a huge role in determining whether your chaxi will be rustic or elegant, simple or refined. Chabu can be made of cloth, bamboo, sticks woven together, rattan, straw, and a variety of other materials. They can range greatly in shape, color and pattern.
One thing to consider before choosing your chabu is what type of tea you will be brewing. For if you brew a dark tea in a large company, then a white, or easily-stained cloth should be avoided (unless you want stains on it), since you will have to pour faster the more guests you have in order to keep the liquor consistent.
When you choose a chabu it will quite literally lay the foundation for your tea ceremony as upon it all other elements will find their place. You could also choose to use a piece of wood or stone, something unique or even nothing.