Aug 30th 14 7:39 pm
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First teapot for Japanese tea

by bob_leo » Aug 30th 14 7:39 pm

Since I am new to the art of tea and I do not have an unlimited budget, I decided to limit my researches to Japanese tea only. But before buying tea I will need help in choosing pottery!

I saw the beautiful Yakishimei Shiboridash Teapot Set for aprox 60$ at O Cha (can i post the link?). Do you think this woul be a nice set to start with? Does it have good quality for the price? Would it be suitable for brewing all kind of Japanese green teas (Fukamushi apart as description says)?

If you have any better raccomandation feel free to post them

PS: I have seen there are many similar discussions in the forum but I could not find anything about this set and its use for a beginner.

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by Peacock » Aug 30th 14 10:18 pm

That's an absolutely great piece to start with, and the size is great for your Japanese tea needs.

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by miig » Aug 30th 14 11:05 pm

It certainly is a nice set, still it would be a good idea to take a deep breath and get a kyusu with a fine strainer also. If you want to try some Japanese teas you will very quickly come across teas with a certain amount of fine particles, and with these two together, you could brew virtually everything.

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by bob_leo » Aug 31st 14 9:30 am

Thank you for your answers!

Anyway i thought i could start with that set because I have alredy planned the way to introduce myself to Japanese tea. I was willing to place 3 subsequent orders to try almost all kind of tea. Something like that:

1st order: The mentioned set+ "standard" (not Fukamushi) Sencha+ standard Gyokuro + Hojicha

2nd Order: A kyusu+another, probably Fukamushi, kind of Sencha+ another Gyokuro

3rd order+ Gawan+Sifter+Spoon+Matcha

Do you think this could be an advisable way to find my favourite tea and then try more kind of that (or those) tea? I think i will need aprox 250$ to go competely down this route. So is that also needlessly expansive? Would it be better to buy a kyusu first and then stick with it so I have more money for tea?

Thank you again for passing on me your knowledge and for your kindnees in answering all my newbie doubts.

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by sherubtse » Aug 31st 14 10:40 am

I would suggest starting with this kyushu:

http://www.o-cha.com/Fukamushi-Teapot-16513.html

As noted in the description, this one is good for almost all types of Japanease tea (matcha excepted, of course). I would not go with a shib to start out.

Throw in a few teas for the new pot and you are laughing (and well below your quoted figure of $250).

Best wishes,
sherubtse

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by miig » Aug 31st 14 5:30 pm

Hmm, for 250$ you'll be able to get and try a lot of tea :)
Thing is, if you get a glazed Kyusu, you can brew virtually all teas in this pot since it won't absorb the flavours. The Houhin is really beautiful, though :mrgreen:

I'd suggest to get at least two or three types of Sencha and try them against each other - I'd recommend not to skip the Asanoka Sencha, its affordable and really delicious.

Just note, Asamushi and Fukamushi taste quite different. I suppose many beginners will prefer Asamushi at the start since its flavous are more on the light, floral, candylike side... for me, Fukamushi is great but somewhat less accessible with its grassy, herbal flavours.

With Gyo - on the one hand, its a very interesting and unique tea and you should definetly try it :) But its also a bit special and imho not perfectly suitable as a everyday tea, because its rather expensive and quite difficult to brew. Its never been intended as a everyday tea, either.
Please don't get me wrong, maybe you'll like Gyo most of all and stick with it, nothing wrong with that. Its just that it will take much more practice to get a Gyo right since a classic Gyo is brewed in a very concentrated manner (lots of leaves, very little water) and here, precision is very important.
I often skip Gyo because its just to much fuzz and go with a rather easy to brew Sencha instead. That of course is just my experience.. theres a lot to discover and it's supposed to be fun :) Just wanted to let you know that real Gyo is a rather special thing and very, very different from Sencha.

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by miig » Aug 31st 14 6:35 pm

bob_leo wrote: I think i will need aprox 250$ to go competely down this route. So is that also needlessly expansive? Would it be better to buy a kyusu first and then stick with it so I have more money for tea?
Hi again,
I thought a bit more about your question and one thing seems certain to me - you won't need 250$ to try a lot of what Japan has to offer (tea-wise, that is 8) ).
I mean, I understand why you'd want to get the Houhin set - it is beautiful! More so than the Kyusus, I'd say. So if you feel good about it, why not get it? I thought about it several times, its just that I really, really got quite enough tea stuff already.
Especially the 250$ budged suggested that you could get the Kyusu, too.

On a purely practical note though, all you'd need would be a Kyusu and a cup for trying almost anything - even for Matcha, a whisk and a spoon would be enough equipment. You'll find something to whisk it in in almost any household and can worry about a Chawan once you decided you want to go on drinking lots of Matcha. So there would be the alternative route on buying a Kyusu you like and do with that for now... especially if you got cups already. In the case of doubt, it seems the best thing to invest the cash in more tea.

Whats certain is, ist that even the more affordable Senchas from O-Cha are really nice, and after several years of drinking (I'm not a pro by any means, just a tea amateur since a couple of years) it would be no problem if anybody told me that I'd have to stick to that kind of tea for the rest of my life.
So don't worry - it's not that expensive, you don't need a huge set of specialized equipment in order to enjoy great tea... the 12$/100g class of tea is good, good stuff and give yo a lot to try. The Senchas are very different and then there is other Japanese teas, and so on. So don't agonize too much, if you like the set, go get it and have fun :)

PS. I'd love to read about what you decided and about your experiences.. happy drinking :mrgreen:

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by JRS22 » Aug 31st 14 8:54 pm

I was about to post my thoughts on your question but first I had to go over to O-Cha and replenish my Japanese tea supply.

I'm a big fan of the gyo brewing sets from O-Cha. I have the basic set that now sells for $40, which I purchased before becoming afflicted with TAD. But gyo can be so difficult to brew successfully, and those failures come at such a steep cost, that I would begin elsewhere.

First of all, O-Cha offers a beginners set of tea and teaware under gifts. You're offered a selection of teas that are presumably easier than average to brew, and then a selection of teapots. You get a 10% discount on the pair, which of course leaves money for more tea or tea ware.

Second, O-Cha sells some of the finest karigane (stem) tea that I've been able to locate. My favorites, the ones I just ordered, are Asa-Giri, which is a gyo karigane, and Otsuusan, which is a sencha karigane. They're relatively easy to brew and delicious, a good starting point. I'm not that good with sencha because I have a problem with over-awareness of the bitterness factor, which is ameliorated by karigane.

Now i just have to wait for my teas to arrive - I paid for faster shipping to cut the wait.

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by Alex » Sep 1st 14 8:34 am

JRS22 wrote: I'm not that good with sencha because I have a problem with over-awareness of the bitterness factor.

Have you tried brewing sencha at 60c? I brew all my sencha these days like that and the brew is always sweet and much fuller of unami to me. I wouldnt even drink sencha at 70c dont like the taste at all.

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First teapot for Japanese tea

by Pig Hog » Sep 1st 14 10:23 am

Alex wrote:
JRS22 wrote: I'm not that good with sencha because I have a problem with over-awareness of the bitterness factor.

Have you tried brewing sencha at 60c? I brew all my sencha these days like that and the brew is always sweet and much fuller of unami to me. I wouldnt even drink sencha at 70c dont like the taste at all.
I don't disagree with this...I just don't agree either.

I believe that brewing temp is and should be different depending on the tea. I did what you do for a while, and was lucky that those particular sencha were indeed best at a lower temp. However, more recently, I just wasn't getting much out of a couple of bags of Kagoshima sencha...until I steeped with hotter water and they came alive. No overpowering bitterness, just much richer and more flavourful.

Cooler water is all well and good but don't discount hotter water until you've tried it with the tea. Also, I don't use a thermometer, so I advise trying in-between temps -- 65C, 75C...even 80C but 60 and 70C isn't the only two options.

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by William » Sep 1st 14 11:47 am

Alex wrote:
JRS22 wrote: I'm not that good with sencha because I have a problem with over-awareness of the bitterness factor.

Have you tried brewing sencha at 60c? I brew all my sencha these days like that and the brew is always sweet and much fuller of unami to me. I wouldnt even drink sencha at 70c dont like the taste at all.
Lol, I brew most of my green teas, both Chinese and Japanese, at 75/80 C°.
Tea world is vast! :mrgreen:

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by JRS22 » Sep 1st 14 2:22 pm

I appreciate the advice but we should return to helping the OP. I've tried everything with Sencha including different temperatures and many different varieties. Sencha has a bitterness component and I'm just more sensitive to it than the average person is.

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by bob_leo » Sep 1st 14 4:04 pm

So the majority of the replies is in favor of a cheaper Kyusu. So the new question is what is going to be a good kyusu?
I am quite picky when it is about design so I would love to have it as simple as possible and, obviously, cheaper than the set option.

The budget problem (and correct me if I am wrong on this point) makes me think that a glazed teapot would be more suitable for my need because of two reasons:
1)It would not get soaked with the flavour of the tea --> I can use it for all the tea I want without risk of ruining anything
2)A cheap unglazed kyusu may influence the flavour in a bad way (well maybe it is just paranoia but i prefer my teapot to be "neutral" when I brew so I can concentrate on tea and water which should be enough for a beginner)

Since I live in Europe it would be MUCH better to order both tea and teapot from the same vendor because of custom problems.

The problem is I cannot find a teapot satisfying all those requirements in any of the shop listed in the tea vendor session.
EDIT: I managed to find one at Den's and one (far more beautiful) at Zencha. But are those shop suitable for my tea needs too?
(I've alredy consulted the opinions in the Tea Vendors thread)

PS: the digression about Sencha temperature was far from being useless to me, even if a bit OT, since I also like my tea to be naturally mild in flavour.

PPS:You are amazing guys I was not expecting that much partecipation!

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by bob » Sep 1st 14 9:01 pm

bob_leo wrote:So the new question is what is going to be a good kyusu?
I am quite picky when it is about design so I would love to have it as simple as possible and, obviously, cheaper than the set option.
Just a quick suggestion: you might want to think carefully about the size of your teapot. Because it's quite different if you prepare tea mostly for yourself, or if you drink it with more people.

For example, I mostly drink alone, and I find my 120-140 ml kyusu to be just the right size. I usually make 3 - 5 infusions with sencha, so that results in quite a large quantity of tea. Ever since I got the small kyusu, my old bigger kyusu (~350 ml) has not been used again... If I make tea for two, I also use the small kyusu and just make a bit shorter infusions and more of them.

I wouldn't worry too much about glazed/unglazed. I think this is more important for Yixing teapots. I didn't notice any patina appearing on the outside of my Japanese pots. There is a steady buildup of brown stains on the inside, but it doesn't affect the tea much. Plus, when I clean
the teapot, I always rub the inside with my fingers to reduce the buildup. This was suggested in a thread here on Teachat, when several people noticed that if you don't clean the inside you can get a funky smelling tea (this is probably bigger problem with fukamushi).

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Re: First teapot for Japanese tea

by entropyembrace » Sep 1st 14 9:29 pm

bob_leo wrote:Thank you for your answers!

Anyway i thought i could start with that set because I have alredy planned the way to introduce myself to Japanese tea. I was willing to place 3 subsequent orders to try almost all kind of tea. Something like that:

1st order: The mentioned set+ "standard" (not Fukamushi) Sencha+ standard Gyokuro + Hojicha

2nd Order: A kyusu+another, probably Fukamushi, kind of Sencha+ another Gyokuro

3rd order+ Gawan+Sifter+Spoon+Matcha

Do you think this could be an advisable way to find my favourite tea and then try more kind of that (or those) tea? I think i will need aprox 250$ to go competely down this route. So is that also needlessly expansive? Would it be better to buy a kyusu first and then stick with it so I have more money for tea?

Thank you again for passing on me your knowledge and for your kindnees in answering all my newbie doubts.
For your first order I think getting a kyusu with sencha, both fukamushi and asamushi, would be more beginner friendly than the gyokuro set, but neither route is really wrong, gyokuro just tends to be a little bit harder to brew successfully than sencha and a kyusu is a more versatile brewing vessel.

But your 3rd order really has problems I think...For matcha you don't use a gaiwan, get one when you're ready to explore chinese tea not when you're getting into matcha. I suggest going for an O-cha matcha starter kit instead http://www.o-cha.com/Matcha-Starter-Kit.html Regardless by far the most important bit of hardware for matcha is the Chasen (whisk) which you should absolutely make sure you order with your first matcha :)

Like others have suggested there's the green tea starter kit too, that would be a good way to go for your first order :) http://www.o-cha.com/greentea-starter-kit.html