Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?


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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby GARCH » Jan 5th, '13, 10:35

auhckw wrote:I was at Hojo last week and the staff told me that do note that there are 2 version of Shigaraki clay/teapots.

1) Rough Clay (first version) - This clay was found by Hojo. There are limited stock left cause the artist no longer produce the same clay. I asked why. They said, it requires more effort to dig up that clay so the artist didn't want.

2) Smooth Clay (second version) - The artist himself then started to use this smoother clay which is more accessible to him. The clay is different from the first version caused it was dug out from diff place.


Hmm okay now this is weird. This contradicts what Hojo posted on his website since he stated that the Shigaraki clay both rough and smooth, comes from the same source, only difference being that the smooth clay was collected after sieving :? I wonder performance wise has anyone compared the 2? I mean if the clay was rougher it *might* mean it's more porous?

David R. wrote:I don't own these particular kinds of kyusu, but I had the chance to try them out. Gisui pots are art pieces, beautiful and there is not going to be any more soon as you said. But the clay is not very special. Shigaraki clay sold by Hojo was selected among others to brew good tea. It will maybe give you less flavors than procelain but tea will linger in your mouth and throat, giving you a nice sensation, texture also. This is not subjective, but there are a lot of other things than taste/aroma in tea. Depth for instance, that such a teapot will help you bring. It may not easy to understand in the beginning.

The Shigaraki clay is very porous. Therefore, it will keep tea essences within its walls and so it is better kept for one family of tea, let's say "greens" in general. If you want a teapot that will be suited for all kinds of tea at the same time, I'd advise against Shigaraki clay, porcelain and glass being the best, but other clays will work also. Another subject.

While drinking more and more japanese green tea, one tends to reduce the volume brewed. I did. I now brew less than 100ml per session, using a lot of leaves. Like Chip, a few of my pots retired because of this.


Hmm gee now I'm confused again as to which pot to get :? I keep thinking it might not be so wise to use the Gisui pot for strictly japanese greens only since Hojo did mention it performs very well with oolong. Maybe it should be used for oolong only. But seeing as it is, I am pretty sure I will get more pots in the future, at least one more. Probably Banko, Shigaraki (if they are still available) or Tozo's Nosaka pots.

Maybe the problem now is to figure out which kind of tea goes well with which clay :?: Personally, I like tasting tea for both it's flaws and strengths. Thus I don't like the clay to round off the flavors so much to the point that I lose the subtleties. Not sure if I made any sense here :oops:
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby David R. » Jan 5th, '13, 10:58

Sorry to have confused you. But as you say, if you are becoming serious about tea, there is a good chance that you will buy more teaware, at least that is something that tends to happen to us here...

If you want good advice about clay and tea pairings, just ask Hojo. He knows his clays better than anyone. I have never regretted following his advice.

GARCH wrote:Thus I don't like the clay to round off the flavors so much to the point that I lose the subtleties. Not sure if I made any sense here :oops:


A clay will always change things. The point is to make a good tradeoff : loose some things but gain more important things along the way. Once again, if you want neutrality, go with porcelain or glass, at least have both. You can find a porcelain gaiwan or a glass teapot for cheap. It is always good to have one nearby, especially for oolong.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 5th, '13, 11:09

GARCH wrote:
auhckw wrote:1) Rough Clay (first version) - This clay was found by Hojo. There are limited stock left cause the artist no longer produce the same clay. I asked why. They said, it requires more effort to dig up that clay so the artist didn't want.

2) Smooth Clay (second version) - The artist himself then started to use this smoother clay which is more accessible to him. The clay is different from the first version caused it was dug out from diff place.


Hmm okay now this is weird. This contradicts what Hojo posted on his website since he stated that the Shigaraki clay both rough and smooth, comes from the same source, only difference being that the smooth clay was collected after sieving :? I wonder performance wise has anyone compared the 2? I mean if the clay was rougher it *might* mean it's more porous?

Yes, that is weird. I thought the reason was that the rough clay was harder to work with. The rough clay is pretty cool. The color changes, gets darker relatively quickly with use. But there are very few if any left.

First impression in use ... I was not so impressed with it for sencha, but I should give it another chance. For the extreme roughness of the clay, they lid fit is amazing. And when turning the lid, it is so frickin' smooth ... like turning the tumblers on a safe. How he pulled this off ... impressive. A most impressive Kyusu ... but is it best for sencha? I will break it out a few times over the weekend.

GARCH wrote:Maybe the problem now is to figure out which kind of tea goes well with which clay :?: Personally, I like tasting tea for both it's flaws and strengths. Thus I don't like the clay to round off the flavors so much to the point that I lose the subtleties. Not sure if I made any sense here :oops:

My thoughts exactly for Japanese greens! I want to experience the full green spectrum of the tea! However, more important than the clay is the tea itself, then the water!!! Get those two things right and you are doing well.

Then the clay can compliment or do nothing at all or detract. You won't really know for sure until you try a pot ... and then often numerous uses will be required. Tokoname is usually the "safest" bet. I also like Bizen. Shigaraki may be a mixed bag. Banko ... I have not gone there.

However for some other types of teas, the clay can be more critical ... IMHO. However, I lack actual experience in matching pots to may types of teas in the Oolong and Pu-erh family.

Adding to the confusion, there are of course Yixing and then a whole range of Korean as well. The journey is oft confusing, but great for TeaExperiments!

Hojo is a controversial character in this puzzle. Some feel he is the ultimate authority. Some sarcastically refer to him as "Hojo-god." But he is into clay more so than any other dealer of Japanese Kyusu-s.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 5th, '13, 11:20

David R. wrote:Choose what will make you happy ! :)

IMHO, more important than anything else! I tend to go with more tactile pieces. Often this is as important to me as anything else.

David R. wrote:While drinking more and more japanese green tea, one tends to reduce the volume brewed. I did. I now brew less than 100ml per session, using a lot of leaves. Like Chip, a few of my pots retired because of this.

Most definitely. But not as dramatically as a gong fu style brewer of finest oolongs, for example. I used to brew 7, now I brew 3-5 ounces for sencha (5 ounces only when brewing for me and the Mrs., otherwise usually 3-4 ounces) Gyokuro 1-3 ounces (the gong fu-cha of Japan?)

Fortunately, only 2 kyusu sit idle due to being too large for daily use ... but they dream of guests showing up for Japanese tea! More people, more tea. They would also be great for cold-brewing sencha ...
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 5th, '13, 11:31

GARCH wrote:BTW what do you mean Chip, when you said I might need a bit more skill to bring out the best in a sencha when brewing half pot?

A big variable when you have more and more empty space in a kyusu is the water temp can do some wild things that it may not do otherwise. It will take some skill to prevent problems due mainly to the temperature fluctuations. It is possible ... you may lose some aroma to the kyusu.

Of course, clay thickness, kyusu shape can also come into play. All factors to consider when brewing ...
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby JBaymore » Jan 5th, '13, 15:59

"Shigaraki clay" as a generic term has a pretty broad potential meaning. There are numerous deposits of clay within the bounds of what might be called "Shigaraki". There is a large level of commercial production of certain Shigaraki clays that are shipped all over Japan. Some "Shigaraki Clay" looks nothing like what many people would typically think of as "Shigaraki Clay".

Some of the more "generic" Shigaraki clay ends up being blended into local clays from other areas of Japan in the various pottery centers sperad around the country. There is a huge market for this clay which comes from somewhat near Lake Biwa. One of the bodies I use when working in Kanayama, Japan contains mostly local clay but with an addition of some smooth plastic and refractory "Shigaraki clay".

The truly "good" rough-type Shigaraki clay is called "Kinose" (key-noh-say). Because of centuries of use there by numerous potters.... it is getting rarer and rarer to be able to obtain this really good clay. Kinose contains naturally occuring bits of flint and feldspathic rocks that give it the characteristic white ishihaze. There are commercially prepared versions of this kind of LOOKING clay that are from Shigaraki sources, but are not the truly "best" natural Shigaraki clay.

For the most part, certain potters have "secret stashes" of Kinose that they are able to "mine" limited quantities from. It is laborous hand work to do so. This clay will only be found in high end pieces. If you are paying less than maybe $1000 for a chawan.... it is likely not hand-dug Kinose. To purchase real Kinose clay in Japan from a supplier (if and when you can find it).... it is a VERY expensive raw material.

Many potters seive out the bits of rocks and then put them back in in an amount "to taste" for their needs. For certain types of forms, too "gnarly" a clay body is not appropriate.....for others, the sky's the limit . Another trick sometimes used is to use a slip of the seived Kinose clay applied to the surface of the rough body in areas that you don't want the "nasties" to show up so much...... like edges of lids and lid flanges. Fires like the same color and surface of the background body.... but with no rough pop-outs and melting blobs.

best,

................john
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby blairswhitaker » Jan 5th, '13, 17:11

I have a few of Hojo's pots and few other clay pots... a few.

rough shigaraki clay from Hojo.

this is my favorite clay personality from Hojo. I like a deep strong finish and long lasting hui gan ( this basically means sweet after taste, it is a chinese term not sure if their is a japanese equivalent.). I love the modern style of deep umami in sencha but I also love the older more mellow style. This pot handles both with splendor. this pot does absorb a lot of tea aromas and high notes during the first uses before a good seasoning. at first it will round off a good sencha and may make it taste flat but still gives a very long and deep finish. You really have to season this pot a LOT. it's one of the few japanese pots I would recommend boiling in a solution of strong tea water for an hour then brewing up a strong batch of tea inside of it and then letting it sit over night. Once it begins to properly season it REALLY gives back. If you have one of these pots it is VERY worth it to give it a good and proper seasoning. I feel as though tachi masaki is one of the BEST at making a very functional pot. I can brew delicate asamushi, as well as fukamushi that is nearly broken to powder, in all my tachi masaki pots. he puts a lot of detail into his ball filter. I have a 300 ml. version of this pot and I will brew any where from 120 ml. up to it's full capacity.

as a side note about my sencha habits, I typically brew a 4 oz or 120 ml serving of sencha as what I consider a "single" serving per steeping. this pot is great for that, but I do use it more frequently to brew a larger amount at one time and share with others.

Banko purple clay.

This is hands down the clay I would recommend to someone new to clay and looking for a type of pot that can really begin to show off what a great clay can do with green tea. I have a Tachi Masaki pot as well as a few others made of this clay. This clay has a near perfect profile for sencha and gyokuro. deepens the umami, smooths out the astringency, prolongs the finish, preserves the high notes, emphasizes the body, and holds heat very well. Just an absolute great clay. you can not go wrong with this clay. You do not have to go through Hojo for this either, you can find it at much more reasonable prices from Artistic Nippon and Yuuki-Cha to name a couple.

Watanabe tozo, rough nosaka clay.

great for sencha and gyokuro, rounds off astringency and pulls out a deeper finish and body from most of the teas I have paired with it. I however did not find this clay to work well with some rather delicate kamiricha that I have tried with it. it flatened out the tea, and took too much astringency away leaving the flavor dull and having no "snap' to it. this clay is a little more "advanced", meaning how you brew with it will greatly affect the results where as banko and hojo's rough shigaraki are more forgiving. holds heat very well, not as perfectly designed as the tachi masaki in my opinion. this clay works Fantastic with taiwanese oolongs and yancha.

shimizu ken, reduction sado.

a very honest clay, does not mute any top notes keeps the cup bright and clean. I would recommend this as a clay that is somewhat nuteral in effecting the flavor profile, it does draw out the finish and the body though. I find it deepens the texture of most senchas and gyokuros but dos not overtly round anything off. very pleasing clay, I do not love the flat filter on these and have had a very hard time steeping teas that are not asamushi in them. I own two different shapes of these pots, one is wide and low at about 90ml and the other is tall and slender at about 120ml and neither one really handles fukamushi. it is not my pour technique either. I have been pouring fukamushi from about twenty other pots with no problem.

these are just some of my personal notes on some pots I own, hope they are of some use to someone.

*edited for clarity*
Last edited by blairswhitaker on Jan 8th, '13, 14:50, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 5th, '13, 17:24

JBaymore wrote:"Shigaraki clay" as a generic term has a pretty broad potential meaning.

Thanks as always, John, for the experienced explanation!

........................

Blairswhitaker, thanks for the Hojo kyusu profiles. What kind of screen does the Watanabe Tozo have?

[EDIT: just watched a video, looks like a "rougher" version of a ball filter?]
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby blairswhitaker » Jan 5th, '13, 19:51

Chip wrote:Blairswhitaker, thanks for the Hojo kyusu profiles. What kind of screen does the Watanabe Tozo have?

[EDIT: just watched a video, looks like a "rougher" version of a ball filter?]



The two I have use a flat wall filter with around seven holes, these drain great.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby David R. » Jan 5th, '13, 20:07

I'd also vouch for (Tachi Masaki 's) banko clay for a beginner, as a matter of fact, I have offered mine to a friend recently. It was the first time I really felt a wonderful addition to my sencha routine. It was an inexpensive half handmade model.

In fact, I've been wondering if the reduction firing was not greatly responsible. I've been using Shimizu Ken's reduction clays on everyday basis for some time now, both normal and Nosaka. I really love the outcomes.

Now I have a Tokoname oxidation clay kyusu coming up. I am looking forward to see the difference.

Chip, Watanabe Tozo's filters are flat. They also have a more generous number of holes than before, which was a problem as far as I am concerned.

I haven't had problems with fukamushi using my Shimizu Ken's pots. But it seems that my suppliers don't have the very fragmented kind. And I have a great Bizen hohin for the bottom of the teabags ! ;)
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 6th, '13, 03:33

Tachi Masaki rough clay version of Shigaraki. Showing some age in variable darkening ...

Image

Image
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby GARCH » Jan 6th, '13, 05:35

JBaymore wrote: The truly "good" rough-type Shigaraki clay is called "Kinose" (key-noh-say).


Thank you John for the wealth of information regarding clays :D This makes me want to fly over to Japan and hunt for this elusive clay just to see how it looks/brews like :? I can never resist the allure of 'rare' stuff~
Looks like without contacts in Japan it's gonna be hard.

blairswhitaker wrote:I have a few of Hojo's pots and few other clay pots... a few.

rough shigaraki clay from Hojo.


Your comparison is VERY helpful! Now I know which pot to get when I buy some Taiwanese oolong to try :lol: But sadly though there are no more rough shigaraki clay kyusu :cry: Actually yes I have been eyeing Tachi Masaki's Banko clay pots for some time, I love the Chigire pattern he does on the teapots. I'll probably need to save up awhile before I get one. The prices are pretty reasonable for a small pot over at Artistic Nippon from what I see.

Chip wrote:Tachi Masaki rough clay version of Shigaraki. Showing some age in variable darkening ...

And Chip thank you for the advice in brewing sencha as well as the photos! Is it normal for the clay to darken over time? It looks pretty cool though 8) Like a part of it is baked reduction style. Are you breaking it out to test it's effects on sencha again?? :lol:


All the information you guys provided is invaluable! And it tempts me into buying more clay pots so I can experiment with the different effects :wink:
My Gisui pot is coming in 2-3 days time btw! MAYBE I should just refrain from using it to brew sencha for the time being, since it supposedly pairs best with oolong. But since I have zero stock of oolong at hand, resistance seems futile :|
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby GARCH » Jan 6th, '13, 05:47

Image

This is the teapot I'm getting btw! I'm curious though, since it's red does it mean it's oxidation fired? :?
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Tead Off » Jan 6th, '13, 07:09

GARCH wrote:Image

This is the teapot I'm getting btw! I'm curious though, since it's red does it mean it's oxidation fired? :?

I believe it should be oxidation fired.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby David R. » Jan 6th, '13, 07:18

Very nice pot ! Don't refrain from anything and use it gladly. Brewing different kinds of tea in it won't kill your teapot. Worst case scenario, there are means to "reset" your pot. But one should not refrain from using a pot he/she loves. :wink:

And yes, red here means oxidation baking. See this picture (about Sado clay) : on the left, the unbaked clay, and the different colors it takes after baking.
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