That is the style of set up i am always using, and find most comfortable. Here in SEA the crackled tea boat style is quite common, and very cheap.
But you are not bound to use this. I use something like this as a plate for the cups:http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hand-painted-Bl ... 589d03113e
These style plates can be found for very reasonable prices on ebay regularly - they were mass produced items during the Qing dynasty, and many were also made for export to SEA markets in those days.
I think that the roughness and simple style of the Blue and White painting adds very much to the spirit of tea.
This one is definitely real, by the way, and not fake (like the 900 dollar crackled plate). I am only not sure if it is pre 1800, but it definitely is Qing. You can see that also by the little points with which the Characters were marked in the plate - usually name of the owners family, so that it won't get lost or mixed up after parties. This a thing that has seen much use in its day. It's ideal to use for tea.
If you search ebay, you can find similar styled, or different, bowls which you can use as tea boats.
You are not necessarily bound to use items that were manufactured specifically for tea. Converting other items, especially older stuff, can be a lot of fun.