andrzej bero wrote:
Nenugal, I am impressed how earnestly you worked on that.
In my opinion you in very good way pointed main similarities and differences between west and east raku technique. IMHO of person who nerver studied in Japan and can not understand some very subtle ruls transmited through generations.
So, I've been making matcha in this one three times now, twice thin (usucha) and once thick (koicha), and I am in general very happy with the results (more on that in the later post), and there has been nothing smoky taste-wise or scent-wise to disturb the matcha-experience
Well that was the most important for me so I am happy of the result:)
Nenugal wrote:What is an interesting question now, is if anything special have been done with this piece and the other raku-pieces of Andrzei, to avoid the reputed smoky smell of western raku?
2 things. First - I have used more newspaper than sawdust (I notice less smoke-black) but as I know that is not my invention. Second - after reduction phase item can be black of soot so I have to clean it using detergents.
I'll also just for fun in a later post compare it to a Japanese black raku chawan, knowing well that I'll be comparing apples and oranges
Thank you for your kind words!
So as promised, although quite a bit delayed, here is my apple-and-oranges comparison of two raku. One Japanese black raku, and Andrzej's red raku.
I did the comparison by setting up a list of aspects to consider while making matcha; if/how they affects the taste of matcha, how is the usability during making of matcha, temperature response, the hand feel, the weight, thickness, looks,...
The red raku of Andrzej has already been described in the previous post, and the black raku is one that is supposedly hand-made by the Shoraku kiln, but probably somewhat mass-produced since it was presented in a cardboard box and cost around $70, which is relatively inexpensive for real hand-made Japanese raku.
For making matcha (usucha) I used
Organic Uji Matcha Tenkei Tori
Tap water (70 degrees)
Generic 100 prong whisk
First some comments about the looks of the two chawan. The black one seem to be pinched rather than wheeled, and this is as far as I have understood the common way for Japanese raku. The red one seems to be made on a potter's wheel from the shape of the walls (please correct me if I'm wrong in this!). The pinching gives a less symmetrical and perhaps more "affected by nature" looks, that I like quite a lot. On the other hand, I think the red one has a light elegance of shape that the black one lacks.
The glaze is quite different, apart from the obvious difference in colour. The red raku has a glaze that is quite shiny and a bright orange with dark (very beautiful!) spider-web-like patterns, and a bit crystallised glass in the interior bottom. The black glaze is less shiny and has "micro-holes" that makes it look a bit porous, and the black glaze also seem to attract dust from the environment. Both has quite smooth surfaces and edges; no problems for the lips or the whisk. On the black one, the foot is covered by glaze, and the clay shows through in some spots on the outside wall of the chawan. The red one has an unglazed foot. I tend to like the smoothness of glazed feet, so I appreciate this feature of the black one, and it also has a nice warm grey-brown colour on the exposed clay on the side. The red one has a more cold grey colour of clay exposed on the foot.
When lifting and holding them, I notice that the black one is heavier (it is also taller so that is no surprise) and seem to encourage two-handed use while the red one is so light that it feels natural to use one-handed or one-and-a-half-handed.
When pre-heating, I notice that red heats up faster, but also lose the heat a bit faster than the more massive black one. However, both keep the heat well enough for matcha use.
When making matcha, whisking is slightly better in the black one, drinking is very good and natural from both, but the lip-feel is better on the red. The looks and taste of the matcha is not noticeably affected by either of them.
A question strikes me as important when comparing these: How does it make me feel to drink from them? The black one is full of old Japanese tradition of raku for tea ceremony, and although it is a relatively cheap one and probably a bit mass produced, it still makes me feel a bit respectful and solemn when I use it. The red one, while still sufficiently ceremonial, also makes me creatively satisfied, I become aware that it is a one of a kind piece of functional art, created by an artist and craftsman that put his soul and creativity into it.
The artists/craftsmen of western raku have taken the old Japanese tradition, re-invented it and made it their own. I applaud the efforts to make western raku that works well for tea ceremony, and the red one is a great example of this.