Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?


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Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby GARCH » Jan 4th, '13, 08:59

Hi all!

First time poster but long time lurker around here! I have been wanting to get a decent kyusu for a long time now (my first) and I cannot decide between the Shigaraki clay one (250ml), or the Gisui Tokoname Natural Red clay one (370ml). Both of these are offered by Hojo. I have been reading good reviews of Shigaraki clay, but does anyone have any insights as to how well the Tokoname Red clay performs? I have asked Hojo about it and he said the natural red clay performs well with all tea, but some other first hand experience will be nice :D since it's a costly investment of around 340USD :?

I admit i tend towards the Tokoname natural red clay kyusu by Gisui since the clay is rare and Hojo will no longer be carrying any more of Gisui's products as the artist finds it hard to keep up with existing quality due to his age. Furthermore the red clay kyusu looks pretty cool, seems to have little crystals sticking in it. 8)

I intend to use my Kyusu to brew sencha exclusively btw! All help is greatly appreciated :D
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 4th, '13, 09:16

Tokoname is likely by far the most used of all styles in use for Japanese teapots, however Hojo seems to take this to a whole new level.

My only concern with your choice is the size of 370 ml (9.33 ounces), a bit on the large size. While you do not need to fill a kyusu for brewing Sencha, still 370 is bigger.

Too give a personal example, I brew 3-5 ounce (90-150 ml) steeps of sencha almost all the time. (I used to brew around 7 ounces (210 ml), but like most TCers, steep sizes have gotten smaller over time and as I am brewing more concentrated sessions). So for me personally, 370 would likely sit a lot as I would reach for 4-10 ounce pots (120-300 ml). Larger Kyusu wait for perhaps larger gatherings and sit idle.

There are many kyusu made of clay in smaller sizes. Hojo has many and so does ArtisiticNippon.

Considering how much you are willing to spend on your first O_O Kyusu, I would just not rush to get a bigger one, but ultimately you will have to live ... and brew with your selection. :mrgreen:

Please keep us informed and share photos when you have your kyusu.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 4th, '13, 09:22

And pardon me ... welcome to TeaChat! :mrgreen:
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Alex » Jan 4th, '13, 09:23

Don't be to concerned about the clay IMO. I've got lots of nice kyusu-s including two from Hojo and I still use porcelain most of the time as I prefer it for Sencha. But enjoy tea from all pots very much!

So get which ever sings to your heart the most. This will bring the most joy over the long term.

250ml-300ml is the sweet spot for an average Kyusu IMO

Having said that I'd get the Gisui if money is not really a factor. I prefer its form and looks and it seems you do as well. That is a stunning pot. 370ml is on the bigger side but you could make it work just fine. The thing is with teaware is that its not always about what's optimal but what makes the soul smile the most.

And agree with Chips comments.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby David R. » Jan 4th, '13, 10:15

Strictly on performance and according to my taste, I'd say Shigaraki performs better, and its size looks more reasonnable too. BUT I completely agree with all the above comments. Choose what will make you happy ! :)
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 4th, '13, 10:38

Some members coined the phrase "teaware tuition" ... we have likely all paid this. I have a 400 ml Kyusu that I have used one time in 4+ years of ownership.

Beautiful kyusu that would make my soul sing if ... IF I would use it. However, due to the size factor alone I do not.

Fortunately that one was only a little over 100 USD. As I prepared to brew tea this morning after reading and posting in this topic, I looked up at it. It sits on the top shelf of our Tokoname shelves, hard to reach (sort of like slowly getting pushed back to the very back of a shelf due to years of non use) ... and dust has fallen upon it like a fine snow. I will get it down to clean ... :cry:

For me, a Kyusu costing 340 USD would have to be in my optimum size range.

Perhaps you have not yet determined what this range is ... and why. I might kindly suggest you determine this before buying. :idea:
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby GARCH » Jan 4th, '13, 10:40

Thank you for the replies!! :D and the warm welcomes too!

The reason why I want a larger teapot size is because I want to brew one nice big pot of tea to decant into a glass pitcher and drink it throughout my study sessions :D It will be quite distracting if I keep getting up to brew another pot. I would enjoy the process greatly no doubt but it's bad for grades :P
Furthermore I find that I tend to go through around 2-3 cups of 300ml coffee per day if I'm really focusing at my study table :?
Oh just asking, seems like a stupid question but how long can I leave the tea leaves inside the kyusu in between re-steeps? I don't want to spoil an expensive kyusu the moment I buy one :?

Hi David! Just a question though. Do you use both the Gisui and Shigaraki for senchas? Or do you use them for oolong/pu-erh as well? When you said Shigaraki performs better do you mean it brings out the taste/flavour/aroma more? Or is it just in a subjective sense?

Sorry to ask so many questions! Still a newbie here to tea actually but I must say after tasting an above average quality sencha that I bought here in Singapore, 24.50USD for 50g, I am extremely curious to know how premium sencha actually tastes like! :)

P.S Currently I'm still a university student but I earn my own keep to buy these....'collectibles' :P which includes vintage fountain pens, nice writing paper, good teas, good coffee beans etc.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby GARCH » Jan 4th, '13, 10:46

Chip wrote:Some members coined the phrase "teaware tuition" ... we have likely all paid this. I have a 400 ml Kyusu that I have used one time in 4+ years of ownership.

Beautiful kyusu that would make my soul sing if ... IF I would use it. However, due to the size factor alone I do not.

Fortunately that one was only a little over 100 USD. As I prepared to brew tea this morning after reading and posting in this topic, I looked up at it. It sits on the top shelf of our Tokoname shelves, hard to reach (sort of like slowly getting pushed back to the very back of a shelf due to years of non use) ... and dust has fallen upon it like a fine snow. I will get it down to clean ... :cry:

For me, a Kyusu costing 340 USD would have to be in my optimum size range.

Perhaps you have not yet determined what this range is ... and why. I might kindly suggest you determine this before buying. :idea:



Hmm Chip you suddenly got me thinking about the usage of my kyusu when I'm no longer studying for exams................. :? Thank you for raising the finer points of choosing a kyusu! :D looks like some reflection time accompanied by sencha is in order.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 4th, '13, 10:53

I keep sencha leaves in a kyusu throughout the day. The tea leaves I brewed for 5 steeps this morning will remain in the kyusu til tonight when I may brew it for iced tea and then clean it out. I do this every day. BUT without fail I clean every Kyusu I used that day out every night.

However, I somehow sense leaving tea leaves that were steeped once or twice in the kyusu for a prolonged period may not be so desirable.

I see your purpose for using a larger kyusu. As long as you feel you will use it, then a larger kyusu is fine. Taking time to purchase a fine Kyusu while drinking sencha can be dangerous :wink: :twisted: :lol: Your order may get bigger while your pot size decreases. :mrgreen:

BTW, I purchased a rough Masaki Tachi Shigaraki Kyusu from a member who purchased it from Hojo ... it was used only a few times prior to my acquisition. I think it does effect the sencha I use it for ... perhaps in a less than ideal way for me personally as I do not feel compelled to use it very often. I notice a change in flavor and think I prefer Tokoname. But the workmanship is flawless ... amazing.


However I do have another Shigaraki set (not from Hojo nor by Masaki Tachi) that I use all the time for sencha on the road as it is a great travel set.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Alex » Jan 4th, '13, 11:13

I'd say if you're even going to half fill that Kyusu at 370ml (185ml of brewed tea) that would be great. I often half fill most pots for sencha and I think 1/2 to 2/3rds is perfect for a Kyusu. Better then filling them right up. Agree with Chip though you don't want to buy a Kyusu like that and say just use it 90% of the time for brewing 100ml of sencha.

I usually brew 150ml at a time so I could just about make that pot work comfortably for me.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Chip » Jan 4th, '13, 13:15

Hmm, also since this is a taller kyusu verus ball shaped or flat, I would be more comfortable going under 50% capacity. I have been looking at a 330 ml kyusu that is taller. Too late however, for the second time someone bought the inventory of 1 saving me some serious TeaBucks! :mrgreen:

I think as you go below the 50% level, a bit more skill may be needed to bring out the best in a sencha. But a taller pot seems more forgiving.

Or maybe this is a buncha hooey. 8)

BTW, I personally prefer ball shaped kyusu, then taller is close behind. Flatter and really flat shaped kyusu-s are distant trailers.
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby GARCH » Jan 5th, '13, 03:28

Chip wrote:Hmm, also since this is a taller kyusu verus ball shaped or flat, I would be more comfortable going under 50% capacity. I have been looking at a 330 ml kyusu that is taller. Too late however, for the second time someone bought the inventory of 1 saving me some serious TeaBucks! :mrgreen:

I think as you go below the 50% level, a bit more skill may be needed to bring out the best in a sencha. But a taller pot seems more forgiving.

Or maybe this is a buncha hooey. 8)

BTW, I personally prefer ball shaped kyusu, then taller is close behind. Flatter and really flat shaped kyusu-s are distant trailers.


Looks like we have the same preferences for kyusu shapes! I do like ball shapes as well, I don't mind taller kyusus as long as it doesn't go overly pear shape :? 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?

Alex wrote:I'd say if you're even going to half fill that Kyusu at 370ml (185ml of brewed tea) that would be great. I often half fill most pots for sencha and I think 1/2 to 2/3rds is perfect for a Kyusu. Better then filling them right up. Agree with Chip though you don't want to buy a Kyusu like that and say just use it 90% of the time for brewing 100ml of sencha.

I usually brew 150ml at a time so I could just about make that pot work comfortably for me.


Actually, I do see myself brewing at the very least 200-250ml of sencha daily for drinking :lol: so this pot might just be THE one~! But of course my mind is already fluttering towards more pots~~ :oops: like for example a shiboridashi for gyokuro brewing, a porcelain kyusu for hojicha or oolong brewing, and something for pu-erh, maybe a Nosaka teapot by Tozo?

BTW, order placed with Hojo for my Gisui! :D :D :D sadly not enough budget for nice yunomis though!
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby Alex » Jan 5th, '13, 04:37

If you're brewing 200-250ml of sencha at a time then a 370ml kyusu would be spot on. 8)
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Re: Shigaraki or Tokoname Natural Red clay from Hojo?

Postby David R. » Jan 5th, '13, 08:53

GARCH wrote:Hi David! Just a question though. Do you use both the Gisui and Shigaraki for senchas? Or do you use them for oolong/pu-erh as well? When you said Shigaraki performs better do you mean it brings out the taste/flavour/aroma more? Or is it just in a subjective sense?


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

Postby auhckw » Jan 5th, '13, 09:46

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.
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