In the Chapter 9 of the Cha Jing, Lu Yu explains how you can make your tea without a complete set of the 24 ustensils that were custom during the Tang dynasty. This shows that the ancient Chinese tea master says it's OK to be flexible and adapt to the situation to make tea. Simplicity has its own beauty. However, in the last sentence of that chapter, Lu Yu writes that "if only 1 out of the 24 ustensils is missing at the doors of the royal palace, then the tea is wasted." This means that when you brew tea for the emperor (important guests), then you have to strive for perfection.
Making tea for others is then like celebrating Christmas with all your family (including relatives you don't see very often and who had to travel from far away). Such a celebration requires a lot of planning and preparation. One important aspect is how to create the Christmas mood. Candles, a decorated Christmas tree, Christmas music are some basic tools to help us enter in the proper mood.
The tea mat is the accessory that will help you convey a lot of feelings and emotions with your tea set. It is like the background color for the painting that you will compose with your teapot, tea cups... The soft texture brings a new depth and warmth to the ceramic objects. The next 2 pictures will show how much the tea mat influences the mood of the tea set.
Without a tea mat:
With a tea mat: