Sencha & Kyusus

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Aug 1st 18 9:41 pm
Posts: 13
Joined: Aug 1st 18 1:12 am

Sencha & Kyusus

by Denmano » Aug 1st 18 9:41 pm

Hello Everyone! This is an interesting site and I've learned quite a lot here! I'm getting into Japanese teas (mostly senchas) now since I lived there way back in 1979 for a summer. I've been using a kyusu that was given to me back then. It's porcelain and about 250cc but I want to get a clay Banko pot. I always brew for just me, but I've been reading many comments that smaller kyusus are better for one person and that I should be looking for something closer to 150cc. Some say it will save tea over the long haul as well. I hate to admit, but I've been drinking my tea out of an 250 ml coffee mug! So, I brew 250 ml and fill my cup and then do a double and sometime triple steep of the same amount. Are most of you drinking out of little traditional cups without handles and that's why the small kyusus work better for you? I guess I like the larger volume but maybe I need to "savor" the tea more by sipping out of small cups. What are your thoughts on this? And, if you have any specific kyusu recommendations, I'd love to hear about them! One of the pots I have my eye on is this one:

< broken link was here >

Thanks so much for your help!

Aug 6th 18 2:28 pm
Posts: 13
Joined: Apr 11th 18 3:56 pm

Re: Sencha & Kyusus

by RobWarren » Aug 6th 18 2:28 pm

Hey Denmano,

Could not click through to your link so can not comment on the particular kyusu that you are looking at. But, I have a Tokoname kyusu that I do enjoy. Using the kyusu adds a pleasant bit of semi-exotic ritual to my tea making.

I do find that that the smaller cups do work better for me when brewing good tea. The small cups allow the tea to be consumed while at its peak before it cools down and loses some of its character. For everyday tea I am with you in wanting a larger cup that I can sip on while working on the computer.

I'd suggest checking into whichever supplier you decide to buy from. I had a number transactions with Yuuki-Cha that I was quite happy with and then one that caused me to decide to never buy from them again.

Best,

Bob

Aug 11th 18 2:53 pm
Posts: 13
Joined: Aug 1st 18 1:12 am

Re: Sencha & Kyusus

by Denmano » Aug 11th 18 2:53 pm

Thanks for your reply, Bob. I thought I'd get an email when there was a reply to my post, but I guess they don't do that here. But, I logged in today and was happy to get your reply. I ended up purchasing the Tokoname tea pot from Yuuki-cha as well as a couple teas. They haven't arrived yet and it doesn't appear they offer tracking via their website. I'm curious what happened that soured your buying experience from them. I have noticed that they don't reply to questions via email on their site at all. It makes me wonder why they bother to offer a link to email them. However, I like that every tea they offer is organic and much of it seems to be from smaller growers. The selection seems good and the prices are reasonable. Maybe this link will work to pull up a photo of the teapot. It's capacity is 280 ml. Is there really any reason I can't make a half-pot of quality tea for myself in this size kyusu? Also, at a price of 4,200 Yen, would this really have been hand made by the artist Houryu? I have a hunch that for that price, it may be his design and possibly made in his studio, but probably by another potter in training, etc. Thanks again for your feedback! David

Image

Aug 16th 18 6:06 pm
Posts: 13
Joined: Apr 11th 18 3:56 pm

Re: Sencha & Kyusus

by RobWarren » Aug 16th 18 6:06 pm

Denmano,

Looks like you picked a nice kyusu! The recommendation that I got was to brew between two-thirds and three-quarters of the kyusu's capacity. So, yes, there is no law that prevents us from brewing less than a full pot.

Yuuki-Cha quickly became my favorite vendor when I was first exploring Japanese teas. Quality was always good and prices were fair. I was starting to recommend them as "my tea guy in Japan" to my tea drinking friends. But that all changed when I ordered a matcha bowl from them. Check out the last few posts in the thread linked below if you are interested in the details.

viewtopic.php?p=300086#p300086

Hope you enjoy your new kyusu.

Bob

Aug 18th 18 3:37 pm
Posts: 13
Joined: Aug 1st 18 1:12 am

Re: Sencha & Kyusus

by Denmano » Aug 18th 18 3:37 pm

RobWarren wrote: Denmano,

Looks like you picked a nice kyusu! The recommendation that I got was to brew between two-thirds and three-quarters of the kyusu's capacity. So, yes, there is no law that prevents us from brewing less than a full pot.

Yuuki-Cha quickly became my favorite vendor when I was first exploring Japanese teas. Quality was always good and prices were fair. I was starting to recommend them as "my tea guy in Japan" to my tea drinking friends. But that all changed when I ordered a matcha bowl from them. Check out the last few posts in the thread linked below if you are interested in the details.

viewtopic.php?p=300086#p300086

Hope you enjoy your new kyusu.

Bob
Hi Bob...

I'm sorry to have read about your interaction with Yuuki-Cha. I did receive two varieties of tea as well as my kyusu earlier this week. I like the tea that I've tried and the kyusu is beautiful although I did have some issues with it. I have noticed that the emails I've sent via their website are never replied to. By the way, I would love your recommendations of your favorite tea company that sells organic teas since I think I'll be most interested in those. My observations regarding the teapot are as follows and I'd love your feedback.

1. I am so impressed at the hardness, heat retention capability (probably due to the iron content?) and uniformity of the piece. One of the questions that went unanswered by the company is whether this piece was made from a mold or on the wheel. At about $40, I'm guessing there's no way that a potter hand-crafted this piece. Would you agree? It may be the "design" of the artist listed (in this case, "Houryu") but it most certainly was not made by him and I'm guessing it's from a mold which is also fine with me as well.

2. The capacity was advertised as approximately 280 ml. I measured the volume to the rim and it's 350 ml. I think this a large difference and I did point this out to the company.

3. When the pot is 80% or more full of water and I put the lid on it, there's a little gush of water out of the spout! I don't know what that's all about other than perhaps there's pressure that gets applied to the surface of the water as the lid is applied. Is this a common occurrence with other kyusus? There is a vent hole in the lid as expected, but it may not be enough to neutralize the pressure as I put the lid on (which seems to have a perfect seal on the pot). Anyway, this issue is resolved now by not filling it quite as full which is fine due to the oversized nature of the teapot.

4. Although I know that the the Tokoname and Banko teaware (and probably from most kilns) are made with darker clays. But, I really enjoy seeing the tea against the much lighter, off-white color of my glazed ceramic or porcelain tea pot. I can see the color of the infusion (both in the pot and as it's being poured). And, it's nice to see the tea in a lighter colored cup as well. So, I'm in the market for some tea cups with light interiors that hold around 200 cc in case any of you have recommendations that are reasonably priced. It's just not right to continue drinking Japanese tea out of coffee mugs! I do have some smaller Japanese-made tea cups but they are only about 100 cc.

I'm so amazed at how much there is to learn about all of this! I'm enjoying it though and appreciate all the helpful information on this site.

David

Aug 25th 18 8:24 pm
Posts: 13
Joined: Apr 11th 18 3:56 pm

Re: Sencha & Kyusus

by RobWarren » Aug 25th 18 8:24 pm

David,

Here are the Japanese tea companies that I have bookmarked in my browser:
  • Sanzen
  • Hibiki-An
  • O-Cha
  • Tealyra
Frankly, I do not remember what I all have ordered from Sanzen but I do think of them as a good option so I must not have had a bad experience. I have used Hibiki-An for my last couple of orders and have been quite happy with what I have received. O-cha has shipped me quite a bit of tea - happy with all of it and they always seem to deliver better than expected value. Tealyra is not based in Japan from what I can tell - they carry a wide variety of teas from beyond Japan - but they provided my very first gyokuro which was amazing.

As to your kyusu questions, keep in mind I am no expert on this. Still at the top of the learning curve I think.

I've watched several videos of teaware being thrown on a wheel. I am amazed how fast a skilled pair of hands can produce the parts needed to assemble a finished piece. So, perhaps, the artist designed the piece but apprentices are making the pieces being sold? I don't know enough to know how to check for true hand-madeness, but unless we are collecting art pieces, I'm more moved by the performance of the pot than it's story or a marketing pitch.

I am puzzled by the water coming out of the spout when you put the lid down. Unlike my Yiking pots, my kyusus have very little rim to their lids to catch any air under them. Also, my air holes are large enough that the pots pour pretty quickly. Not sure what I can suggest other than to check and see if your air hole is plugged?

The teaware bug is a real thing I'm afraid. I'm looking hard for the perfect yunomi for my senchas now. My current definition of perfection requires an emerald green kan-nyu glaze with deep and multi layered crackling. I have not found an example yet, but continue to hunt for it.

I do think that nice teaware does bring an additional layer of enjoyment to tea drinking. So by all means, find something to replace your coffee cup soon. Just do not think it will be your only and last one!

Best,

Bob

Aug 27th 18 2:52 am
Posts: 13
Joined: Aug 1st 18 1:12 am

Re: Sencha & Kyusus

by Denmano » Aug 27th 18 2:52 am

RobWarren wrote: David,

Here are the Japanese tea companies that I have bookmarked in my browser:
  • Sanzen
  • Hibiki-An
  • O-Cha
  • Tealyra
Frankly, I do not remember what I all have ordered from Sanzen but I do think of them as a good option so I must not have had a bad experience. I have used Hibiki-An for my last couple of orders and have been quite happy with what I have received. O-cha has shipped me quite a bit of tea - happy with all of it and they always seem to deliver better than expected value. Tealyra is not based in Japan from what I can tell - they carry a wide variety of teas from beyond Japan - but they provided my very first gyokuro which was amazing.

As to your kyusu questions, keep in mind I am no expert on this. Still at the top of the learning curve I think.

I've watched several videos of teaware being thrown on a wheel. I am amazed how fast a skilled pair of hands can produce the parts needed to assemble a finished piece. So, perhaps, the artist designed the piece but apprentices are making the pieces being sold? I don't know enough to know how to check for true hand-madeness, but unless we are collecting art pieces, I'm more moved by the performance of the pot than it's story or a marketing pitch.

I am puzzled by the water coming out of the spout when you put the lid down. Unlike my Yiking pots, my kyusus have very little rim to their lids to catch any air under them. Also, my air holes are large enough that the pots pour pretty quickly. Not sure what I can suggest other than to check and see if your air hole is plugged?

The teaware bug is a real thing I'm afraid. I'm looking hard for the perfect yunomi for my senchas now. My current definition of perfection requires an emerald green kan-nyu glaze with deep and multi layered crackling. I have not found an example yet, but continue to hunt for it.

I do think that nice teaware does bring an additional layer of enjoyment to tea drinking. So by all means, find something to replace your coffee cup soon. Just do not think it will be your only and last one!

Best,

Bob
Thank you for all that information, Bob! I am definitely an addict now but I think it's a healthy addiction!

I really love my new kyusu and I've learned that all things in life have their quirks and I've been able to avoid any water spilling out of the spout by not filling it quite so full (which is often recommended anyway) and also by gently placing the lid on the pot itself. So, no concerns any longer with that issue. Also, I'm now convinced that the pot was most likely made using a mold, but that's totally fine with me and I don't think it makes any difference in it's ability to brew a nice pot of sencha. There are no artist markings like you often see on hand-made pieces so that's why I think it may have been made with a mold but I could be wrong and perhaps it is just apprentice-made in the same shop on a wheel.

Without mentioning the name of the company which you had issues with, and that I purchased the kyusu from (I suspect based on my research here that they closely monitor comments), I will say that I've gotten little support with any of my questions. The only time I heard back from them is one time before I ordered it and the owner said, "I'm not sure what you're getting at. All teapots are made by the artist or at the kiln listed". My question was very clear and that is, did the artist Houryu actually make this teapot or was it made using a mold? Anyway, I don't want to get on their bad side because, to be honest, I haven't had the best level of communication with any of the direct vendors from Japan. I would imagine they are thin-staffed and just don't have the time to respond which doesn't excuse poor customer service, but perhaps explains it a bit. And, I probably need to quit asking and just just start buying and learning as I go. Also I love one of the teas that I received from them and have already reordered it. It's very much like the tea I drank many years ago when I spent a summer in Kyushu. Every time I sip on that sencha, it brings me back to that time.

I think I did find a larger yunomi (almost 250 ml) that is off-white on the inside that should help me get away from the larger mugs I'm using now. I haven't ordered them yet, but I probably will. And yes, you're right. They probably won't be my last. I hope you find exactly what you're looking for as well!

I would like to learn more about what people do when traveling to simplify getting their green tea fix. There are lots of interesting options out there and I may ask that as a general question of the forum here at some point.

Thanks again!
David