The dynamic and diverse Japanese tea culture is riddled with a wealth of accessories that define the steeping, decantation and drinking process. Worldwide, Japanese teapots stand shoulder high for their prestigious shapes and colour. Just like their Chinese counterparts, Japanese tea enthusiasts use different pots for different brewing processes. The pots feature a wide range of visually stunning coatings and materiality.
Clay is the most popular player in the design and structuring of Japanese pots. The names of the pots are given according to the place of the clay’s origin. Big names in Japanese tea culture include; Onko, Banko, Tokoname yaki and Mumyoi Yaki. Additionally, the pots are named according to the type of clay used for their design—Banko teapot is made exclusively from purple clay whereas Tokoname pots feature red clay. Otherwise, Japanese teapots are categorized based on the positioning of the handle and general shape.
1. YOKODE KYUSUS
Yokode teapot stands out for its unique ornamental features that consist of a distinctively structured spout at a near-ninety degrees angle from the handle. They are the most popular pots ever in the Japanese tea culture. According to tea legends, Japanese used to serve the tea while seated on the traditional tatami mat. The mat only allowed for the host and guest to sit across or parallel to each other. The cylindrical Yokode spout allowed for efficient serving without the need to stand.
The kyusu has an excellent capacity courtesy of its bulbous shaped-body. Depending on the model or brand, the kyusu can hold a minimum of 500ml to 2 litres. That is enough for even a big family.
Related Article: Yokode kyusu: a side handle for a handy pour
2. UWADE KYUSU
Uwade is a hype kyusu whose handle is located directly at the top of the body. Usually, the handle is made with a different material from the body. The most popular handles are made with bamboo since they are not only beautiful but also offer cutting-edge insulation value.
The pot features a stout and bulbous body. This makes it easy to replace one type of handle for another, say rattan to plastic or the wooden bamboo.
On a worldwide scale, uwade pots are so familiar to many. They are used for serving at the guest parties as well as keeping the tea during hot summers. From a glimpse, you will identify these pots with their large handles with versatile grip.
3. HOUHIN KYUSUS
Houhin—also called Houbin teapot—is an iconic Japanese teaware that features no handle. This teapot is mainly for brewing high-quality sencha tea or Gyukoru. Brewing the two types of tea usually calls for low-level temperatures and the teapot is designed to meet out this. Due to its low capacity, the teapot also minimizes waste a great deal. It falls in a bracket of outstanding Japanese teapot with ideal brewing potentials for other top-quality teas.
In Japanese tea culture, Houhin pots are commonly referred to as “treasure” or “magical” jars. Its elegant functionality demands for holding with cupped hands when serving. This elevates the tea drinking experience by allowing for a feeling of warmth during the serving sessions.
4. USHIRODE KYUSUS
Ushirode kyusu refers to the back-handled Kyusu –a popular design with roots from the Chinese traditional pots. It is widely used in western cultures. The pot features a narrow and ergonomic spout; and a lid at the top that can be fixed tightly in place to avoid spillage during the serving process. The capacity of Ushirode kyusus is relative to the materials they are made with.
5. TETSUBIN KYUSUS
Tetsubin pots are Japanese handcrafted pots that are made exclusively with cast iron. Most of them feature enamelled inner surfaces. Unlike other Japanese teapots, this brand is made solely for infusion of mostly black, green and oolong tea. Additionally, the pots also feature a patina that is mainly to prevent oxidation hence leading to flavorful drinks.
Shirobidashi is the best alternative to Gaiwan and the top Houbin’s competitor. These types of pots come in different designs with squatter-like shapes that cut through almost all models. Some pots come with no handles while others come with handles. The handless Shirobidashi can be used just like the same as Houbin pots. The pots are mainly with high-quality Japanese green teas.
HOW TO CHOOSE JAPANESE TEAPOTS
Due to a wealth of brands and models around the world, choosing the best Japanese teapot for your basic tea brewing, serving and storage can be quite daunting. Here are the insights into choosing the best pot that meets every piece of your needs.
Japanese teapots are made with almost all the player materials in the tea ware industry. This includes; clay, porcelain, glass, ceramics and cast iron.
Most Japanese teapots feature clay structuring for both the body, spout and the handles. One factor that is so evident in clay pots is their potential for absorbing the taste of different teas. They are the best when it comes to brewing green teas. Choosing a clay Japanese teapot means buying different pots for different types of teas. Otherwise, other than delicate, the clay pots have high value for money; and are easy to use and maintain.
Porcelain tea wares are widely known for their smooth and unreactive surfaces. They can feature transparent, translucent or opaque walls depending on the structuring temperatures. Japanese porcelain teapots function almost the same as glass pots. However, they are relatively durable and do not transfer heat the same way as glass and stainless steel variants. They are easy to handle for both solo and group brewing. The cutting-edge visual appearance adds the savoury taste of Japanese white teas.
Choosing a glass Japanese pot set means choosing an excellent ware excellent monitoring options. The teapots are non-reactive and feature non-grease surfaces that are dishwasher safe. With some level of cautiousness, the more durable borosilicate glass Japanese teapots will creep in and rectify all the inefficiencies in your current tea brewing.
Ceramic Japanese teapots feature medium heat retention and excellent taste for almost all green teas. Their versatility and edgy ornamental features make them the best alternative to porcelain and glass teapots. Check out for popular brands such as Tangpin Japanese wares. You will automatically get something that suits your needs.
In the fiscal world, you only get what you pay for. The dime in your pocket can either be a limiting or a motivating factor to acquiring your most preferred Japanese teapot. Unlike the Chinese counterparts, Japan teawares are more durable and of apex quality. They are priced higher in most platforms worldwide.
Other than durability, several factors come into play when it comes to determining the price of specific teaware. These include aesthetic value, materiality, size and design. In regards, no Japanese teapot is cheaper than the other since only the shape and design changes are while other factors remain relatively constant. Just make sure that your chosen teapot does not choke you down financially.
Japanese teapots vary in design. It is a primary factor when it comes to curating the pots. The design determines:
THE SHELVE LIFE
Though complexity is linked to high aesthetic value, it comes with one downside risks to cracks. Usually, handles are the first to tear, crack or wear off. Though durability relies on how effective you handle the pot, by choosing a handless design, you will be minimizing the risks to forces of wear and tear.
Different people have a different level of taste to different antiques. Some like the thin-walled wares with long and narrow spouts. Some people love the ergonomic handles while others love the straight handles. During the 17s Japanese pots featured spear shapes. Contemporarily, the round shapes prevail. However, there are straight surfaced pots with widened sides. Knowing your most preferred shape helps a lot since the more unusual the shape, the more collectible the pot is.
4. OTHER IN-BUILT ACCESSORIES
When choosing the pot, take a look at the holes that lead to the spout in the inner surface. You will realize that the number of holes varies from three to four holes. However, some Japanese brands feature no whole at all. To use such antiques, you need to be cautious about the quality of the strainer used during the brewing process. On the other hand, Houbin pots come handy with in-built strainers. They are ideal for solo steeping using either tea bags or green loose leaves.
Japanese teapots pride their unique quality, designs and outstanding value for money. They come in classical, modern and vintage designs for various levels of functionalities. For any adept tea drinker out there, you have no reason other than acquiring one of these antiques. Look out for our next reviews of other types of teaware created to convert.
Related Article: Tokoname Teapot Guide