Choosing Tea Ware - Tea Leaves
If you are new to Japanese tea, you may wonder what tea ware you should choose or what tea ware you need. Maybe this is your first time to see Japanese tea ware or you wonder how it is used. Below are some tips on choosing tea ware for those new to Japanese tea.
Tea ware for brewing tea leaves such as Gyokuro, Sencha, Genmaicha, and Houjicha.
- Kyusu (Teapot):
First of all, the mesh filter at the base of the Kyusu spout should be neither too fine nor too coarse but just appropriate. 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. 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. 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.