Choosing Tea Ware
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Tea Ware for Brewing Tea Leaves (such as Gyokuro, Sencha, Genmaicha, and Houjicha)
- Kyusu (Teapot):
First of all, Kyusu teapot should always have a fine filter fixed at spout NOT removable basket filter to brew all kinds of Japanese tea, all grades of tea, and for any number of persons. If the mesh filter is too fine, the aroma and taste can't be extracted enough and the filter can easily become blocked. If it is too coarse, tiny tea leaves pour out from the Kyusu along with the brewed tea into the teacup, especially with fine or small-leaf teas such as Sencha Fukamushi. And it is impossible to brew tea flavorfully in a mesh basket because the area is so small and constrained that the tea leaves can neither open nor stretch out enough to flavor the tea.
Second, the lid area at the top of the Kyusu should have a wide opening. This enables the easy disposal of used tea leaves. If this opening is too small, it is extremely difficult to remove the used tea leaves when you are finished brewing your tea.
Third, Japanese-style side handle Kyusu are the most easy to pour, more so than teapots with a loop handle on the top or back. The side handle is much more ergonomic and does not strain the wrist when pouring a heavy pot of tea, and you can have more control over the tea, so there is less chance of spills or over - pouring. All Kyusu items at Hibiki-an meet the three above requirements.
- Yunomi (Teacup):
The flavor of green tea depends not only on the quality of tea and brewing process. It depends on the size, shape, and thickness of the vessel that it is brewed or served in. To enjoy the excellent and subtle flavor of high grade Japanese tea, it is better for the teacup to be thin. And if the inside of the teacup is white, you can appreciate the unique color of each different variety of Japanese tea. The ideal size is 90ml to 160ml (3.2fl oz to 5.6fl oz). In contrast to a large size mug or glass, which is preferable for water to satisfy your thirst, the smaller size Yunomi, traditional in Japan, is preferable for green tea since it creates a feeling of relaxation and quiet contemplation. It is best to choose Yunomi to match your own unique style. Japanese tea is not only appealing to taste, but also a visual experience - an opportunity to appreciate art in everyday life.
- Yuzamashi (Water Cooler):
Yuzamashi is used to adjust the water temperature. Gyokuro and Sencha taste much better when brewed with water of the correct temperature. Yuzamashi is not essential - one can adjust the water temperature by pouring the water into the Yunomi (Teacup) and then into the Kyusu (Teapot), as explained on our page How to Enjoy Green Tea. However, the Yuzamashi is much more convenient, because it is made specifically for the purpose of cooling and pouring water for tea.
Hohin is a small size Kyusu teapot without a handle and is used to brew only the highest grade Uji tea. The size is usually 100ml (3.52fl oz) or more, and should be used together with small size Yunomi cups like 50ml (1.76fl oz) or more. The small size is suitable for the slow brewing of highest grade teas for a deep, mellow, and full flavor. Hohin does not have a typical mesh filter, but instead has small holes in the ceramic or porcelain body of the teapot. Therefore, it is not suitable for brewing Sencha Fukamushi but only traditional Uji style teas such as our Premium, Super Premium, and Pinnacle grade teas.
- Dobin (Teapot):
Dobin is a style of large teapot with a handle attached at the "shoulders." Dobin is convenient for brewing a large quantity of tea for several guests, or to brew one large pot of tea to drink all day long, or iced tea.
When choosing a Dobin, we strongly recommend Dobin having a fixed filter at the spout, not a removable mesh basket. It is impossible to brew tea flavorfully in a mesh basket because the area is so small and constrained that the tea leaves can neither open nor stretch out enough to flavor the tea.
- Chazutsu (Airtight Container):
Chazutsu are not necessary but definitely are useful to have your tea leaves easily available for daily use and also to keep tea leaves fresh for a longer period of time. Chazutsu is usually made with steel or wooden lacquer ware.
Store a small amount of tea in one Chazutsu for daily use. Then, use a second Chazutsu for relatively long - term storage, opening it very little so air will not often come into contact with the tea. The original packaging may also be used to hold the tea inside this storage container. In this case, please remove the air from the original packaging and close with a rubber band or clip, and your tea will stay fresh even longer.
- Sami (Tea Scoop):
Sami are very useful for measuring tea leaves from Chazutsu or other tea container and when placing tea leaves into the Kyusu teapot. It also brings a traditional Japanese atmosphere to tea time. Sami means Tea Scoop in Japanese. There are various Sami with capacities of 3g to 5g of tea leaves, or approximately 1/2 tablespoon to one tablespoon. We think that the tablespoon is most convenient to measure tea leaves because the capacity is almost the same all around the world. All of our brewing instructions are based on tablespoons to measure tea leaves. We recommend you check the capacity before using Sami.
- CHATAKU (Saucer):
CHATAKU is a traditional Japanese saucer on which a Yunomi teacup is placed when serving tea, similar to the saucers used for tea service in Europe and North America. CHATAKU is not typically placed beneath a Matcha Bowl but only a Yunomi teacup.
CHATAKU is traditionally used to serve tea to welcome a guest into the home, office, or shop in Japan. It is a way to pay respect to a guest to serve tea with CHATAKU. It is not commonly used for everyday tea drinking.
CHATAKU is made with various materials: lacquered wood, metal such as iron, brass, tin, and stainless steel, pottery, and resin. It elevates the atmosphere at the table.
Tea Ware for Preparing and Serving Matcha
- Chasen (Bamboo Whisk):
First of all, Chasen bamboo whisk is an essential tool for correct Matcha preparation. To enjoy flavorful Matcha, it must be lathered or frothed very well. To froth Matcha, you must whisk with a Chasen, otherwise it will not taste right and may have lumps. It is impossible to stir or mix Matcha into hot water with a spoon. Whisking with a Chasen is necessary for best taste and consistency or texture. Chasen are made from bamboo, and some have a greater number of bristles. More bristles generally create a better froth.
- Matcha Chawan (Matcha Bowl):
Though Matcha Chawan is not completely necessary, it is best to use a bowl with a similar shape and size. To lather Matcha well, you should move the Chasen (Bamboo Whisk) quickly like writing the letter "W" in a Matcha Bowl. If you use a bowl that is not wide enough, you can’t move the Chasen quickly enough, and the Matcha will not be frothy or flavorful. Also, the sides must be high enough to prevent splashing the Matcha out of the bowl, but low enough so that the Chasen can touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Chashaku (Matcha Spoon):
To prepare Matcha, it is not essential to use a Chashaku - one can use a teaspoon to scoop and measure Matcha. However, since the Chashaku is made specifically for Matcha, it is the best tool to easily scoop the appropriate amount of Matcha and also plays a role in creating the traditional WABI SABI atmosphere. And usually, it is not too expensive.
- Kusenaoshi (Whisk Keeper):
Though Kusenaoshi is not essential, it is useful to improve the longevity of the Chasen (Bamboo Whisk). With repeated use, the Chasen will naturally loose its curved shape. Kusenaoshi is used to return the Chasen to its original curved shape.
- Matcha Sifter:
Matcha often gets lumpy due to static electricity because Matcha is a very fine powder. To avoid lumps, it is best to sift Matcha just before preparing. If you don’t have a Matcha Sifter, you can use a tea strainer or flour sifter made from steel mesh, but the Matcha Sifter is made specifically for Matcha, so it is the best tool for properly sifting Matcha. Also, it is useful for storing Matcha for a few days if necessary.
There are two main types of Natsume. Traditional Natsume are made from wood and coated with lacquer. The other style of Natsume is made from plastic in order to provide a similar item at a lower cost. Natsume is a container to temporarily hold Matcha during the tea ceremony. After tea ceremony, leftover Matcha is returned to the storage container from Natsume. So, Natsume is not for the long-term storage of Matcha because it is not airtight. For storing Matcha, a metal pull-top can like the ones used for our Matcha Super Premium, Premium, and Pinnacle, is much more useful to keep the tea fresh.
- Electric Milk Frother:
Milk Frothers including Electric Milk Frothers are not suitable for preparing Matcha at all. It is impossible to make rich fine froth using a Milk Frother. The rich fine froth is essential for Matcha flavor. Besides, most Electric Milk Frothers seem to be of poor quality and tend to break easily. It seems that there is no alternative for a Bamboo Whisk. We strongly recommend using a Bamboo Whisk to prepare flavorful Matcha.
Tips to Enjoy Earthenware (WABI SABI Atmosphere Created by Kiln)
Each piece of earthenware pottery is unique due to the variety of colors created by firing in the kiln. In many cases, even if several pieces are created with the same clay and glaze in the same lot and fired in the same kiln, there are differences among each piece. The difference is one of the highly desirable elements of WABI SABI atmosphere, and there are many techniques to intentionally create inhomogeneous kiln disparities, which can’t be fully controlled by the artisans. Even the consummate artisan cannot fully control the discoloration disparity created in the kiln. It is like heaven only knows the outcome. So, artisan and connoisseur alike are drawn to the world of earthenware pottery. Connoisseurs seek out pieces of earthenware with these traits and understand they are a mark of quality and of expert craft and skill.
GOHONDE is a technique to intentionally create inhomogeneous kiln disparities resulting in colorful patches of orange.
Even the consummate artisan can’t fully control the flow of the glaze.
This is a representative example of works characterized by natural elements of clay and glaze fired in the kiln.
Tips to Enjoy Earthenware (Deepening Atmosphere by Using)
It is said that it is not the final goal but just the start for most pieces of earthenware pottery when they come out from the kiln. Porcelain is non-hygroscopic and does not change over time with use. In contrast to porcelain, earthenware pottery is hygroscopic and breathable, so that they deepen in atmosphere when used carefully over time.
Changes of surface of glaze or clay deepen the atmosphere. Glaze craze (a type of glaze and technique which gives the appearance of a cracked surface), called KANNYU, usually appear on most kinds of glazes after the first use. They deepen the WABI SABI atmosphere.
Would you carefully use earthenware pottery for a long time and enjoy the changes as time advances?
Glaze craze deepens the atmosphere if used for a long time
Surface of glaze deepens in atmosphere when used carefully over time