I have owned the handstamped HANA MISHIMA Matcha Bowl for several months now and find it exceptional while enjoying Matcha. I often find myself losing track of Time as I admire the unique patterns and textures designed all over this bowl, so I decided I definitely wanted SHIRO INKA Yunomi to enjoy my other Teas more often throughout the days and also to pair with a certain Kyusu or Dobin style Teapot to set a specific atmosphere depending on everything from the Season to even my mood. Actually, I must confess that I have been wanting these specific Teacups ever since I very first discovered this site! I was attracted to them as I quickly scrolled down the Teapots/Cups Page because they just reminded me of something looking very traditional, yet stately, and even antique. That was months ago but I had to keep putting them off, although these are really a GREAT Value for TWO! I very much love antique and vintage items, especially handmade items, and although these are not I still love them. Some people may find them possibly a bit "rustic" feeling/looking which I also agree with. Well, I finally ordered them and have enjoyed a few Teas in them :) There is something about this Earthenware that is just awesome that makes me LOVE holding the Teacup in my hand, admiring the different flower shaped stamps that were all handstamped so they are a bit varied but that is what adds dimension to how the white, almost khaki colored, or even the shades and colors of an old book's aged pages glaze's color finally settled into the stamps, along with how the light will hit your cup causing lovely shadows depending on the angle at which you view the cup as well as color interplay with the reddish-brown, nearly a sandy and grainy textured, with a rust and/or brick-colored Earthenware material these yunomi are created from. I especially love how these have a higher base on an upward & inward diagonal slant. You can really feel the "rustic/vintage/antique/even something of a medievel" charming atmosphere when observing the various glaze thicknesses, color shades, and even some tiny "grainy bubblies" and very subtle crackling inbetween the 3 horizontally carved out lines around this, in my opinion, very elegant type of yunomi base. I love that look! I ordered the Limited Spring/Summer Season Whispering Water Yunomi with my first order and they had a similar base, but not as high, and I feel these are more "elegant" and even "royal" looking (just as I described in my review of the HANA MISHIMA Matcha Bowl feeling "royal") then the Whispering Water Yunomi looked due to that higher base as well as these SHIRO INKA Yunomi having the ever so slightly and gently flared out rim. For some reason I yet again feel as if I could very well be drinking a fine wine from this yunomi due to the finished Earthenware's nearly "stone, royal goblet" atmosphere it sometimes sets for me with it's special and unique shape and design from high set base to flared rim, although I REALLY WANT TO STRESS that these yunomi are incredibly THIN & LIGHTWEIGHT. Surprisingly so for me, I expected something heavier when I picked up this yunomi after just viewing it. I also want to mention the rim is very uniform and flat without any sort of irregularity sometimes found and indeed wanted and appreciated in other cup/bowl designs (such as the HANA KIKOH Series, which I also love) but this nearly perfect handcrafted form is what I think makes SHIRO INKA come off as "royal, noble, stately" although in an authentically gentle manner. These yunomi, although variously textured by stamping a sandy/grainy Earthenware, are still wonderfully smooth feeling to sip from due to a border along the top rim that is more thickly coated with the glaze that adds more dimension to contemplate inside the yunomi since you can see exactly how the glaze naturally flowed down the inner walls creating a lovely sort of "dripping" pattern completely different on each 1 of these cups and color variations again from glaze settling into different patterns, textures, and depths. My eye is drawn down to the inner center of this yunomi, and just as it is with HANA MISHIMI, a wonderful bouquet of flowers is presented stamped within a thinly carved circle. Just as with the HANA MISHIMA Matcha Bowl, a lovely experience is had as I enjoy both the "flower bouquet presentation" visually, along with my Tea's sweet aroma, it's delightful!
This super thin and lightweight Earthenware yunomi offer a different Tea Tasting experience as well as new Kyusu/Dobin pairings for different Tea Time atmospheres, moods, and Seasons. I decided to pair this yunomi with the similar charms & shades of browns and greens the Earthenware Kyusu offers this past Autumn Season. (This Kyusu is available here as part of The Organic Tea Gift Set or can be purchashed alone.) Everything "Autumn" was made even BETTER when I brewed the Autumn Kuradashi Tea in this manner! HIBIKI-AN states Tea will taste/be experienced differently depending on your yunomi's factors such as Porcelain vs Earthenware and thickness, with the thinnest yunomi giving the most enjoyment of their Tea. I was able to more fully realize, understand, and appreciate this aspect of enjoying Tea after first using the thin Whispering Water Porcelain yunomi to try the Kuradashi Sencha. Next I changed nothing except to use this Earthenware yunomi and it was wonderfully subtle difference in my appreciation of the Tea (I maybe should add that this yunomi has a gently flared rim but the Porcelain yunomi does not, so maybe that made a slight difference?) I was lucky to also experience the 2012 Competition Grade Sencha Pinnacle in both Porcelain as well as this SHIRO INKA Yunomi which was amazing. I then decided to switch the thicker, ceramic, clay cup I usually use with my 500ml Dobin Teapot to SHIRO INKA and brew my most nights' staple Sencha Superior and I was very much Honestly surprised at really how much different and actually even BETTER the Sencha Superior Tea was tasting. It was definitely somehow smoother in this SHIRO INKA Yunomi and I am going to be using this alot more often now paired with my Dobin style Teapot!
I apologize for the exceptionally long review but I am VERY happy I FINALLY got around to ordering these after so many months of needing to put them off for various reasons, mostly "Limited Teas/TeaWare" but I did not want them to go out of stock as another yunomi I was wishing for recently did that also had the stamping technique with various flowers described as a "carpet," if I remember correctly, on a grey/black sort of sharp triangular shape contrasting on white.
I lastly want to add that when I received my order with the box of this pair, 1 of the set was unfortunately broken when I opened the box. HIBIKI-AN were EXTREMELY FAST in responding to my email for an exchange in literally no more than a few hours, even with the Time Zone Difference, which was positively shocking! Mr. Yasui's assistance to me was EXTREMELY Professional, organized, politely personalized to my order, as well as friendly, and I was yet again, needless to say, so surprisingly pleased! I remain a completely content customer and fan of HIBIKI-AN'S awesome way of doing business and obviously (in my opinion) their "The Best Green Teas" along with their unique selection of only the best quality, handmade TeaWare! Thank you, Mr. Yasui and Everyone at HIBIKI-AN!! :D