Kyusu Tokoname
Fukamushi Aka

Studio Tomisen

SKU
4084
Original Japanese side-handle teapot from Tokoname. Ideal for the preparation of high-end steamed Japanese green tea (fukamushi). Made from natural red clay, oxidation fired. 330ml
Type Side-handle teapot: yokode kyūsu (横手急須)
Kiln Tokoname Yaki (常滑焼)
Origin Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Capacity  330ml
Recommended filling quantity For optimal pouring, fill only up to the last third of the integrated strainer
Dimensions
(diameter without handle x height without knob)
10.2 x 6.5cm
Weight 274g
Clay Red natural clay (shudei; 朱泥) enriched with natural bengara (弁柄; red iron oxide).
Firing Oxidation fired
Glaze Wafer-thin application of the special clay layer (chara; チャラ) which develops a characteristic sheen with age
Strainer Permanently integrated stainless steel sieve, specially shaped for deep-steamed green teas
Production The components of the lid and jug are cast into shape by hand and then assembled by hand for a precise fit (ikomi; 鋳込み)
Packaging Box
€32.90

Delivery : 1–3 business days

Incl. VAT, excl. Shipping

SKU
4084
In stock

Kyusu

A kyusu is a traditional Japanese teapot used for the preparation of Japanese green tea. Fired from natural clay and unglazed on the inside, the body reacts with the tea and water to bring out certain aromas while subduing others. With the tea allowed to steep free-floating in the pot and the leaves lying across the integrated strainer when pouring to prevent them from entering the cup, the kyusu allows for a more complete extraction of flavours and ingredients. The tea should always be brewed fresh, but several infusions are customary. The side handle and the knob on the lid allow for safe handling of the teapot despite the high temperature of its contents.

Throughout history, there have been hundreds of ceramic centres in Japan, located wherever the volcanic soil was rich in clay. Some are still active today, including the Six Ancient Kilns (Rokkoyo) Bizen, Shigaraki, Seto, Echizen, Tamba and Tokoname, others such as Karatsu, Hagi, Mino, Shino, Oribe, Setoguro Ki-Seto and Kyo-yaki, as well as Banko in Yokkaichi, which specialises in tea ceramics in particular.

Kyusu differ according to the composition of the clay, which varies from region to region, the firing method, the handmade production steps taken, the decoration and glazing techniques as well as the overall quality, which can range from delicate to deliberately coarse. The clay as well as chosen firing technique determine the character of the kyusu, i.e. which types of flavours are lifted or subdued. Therefore, tea lovers often have different kyusu of different qualities at home in order to optimally prepare all their favourite teas. Among the finest and most valuable kyusu are those made by artists famous for their special talents in manufacturing, decoration and unique natural clay production as well as for their perfected firing techniques.

Led by the most highly awarded masters, the hierarchy of craftsmanship includes studios that still draw on the reputation of past masters, young and wild studios and family-run micro-enterprises which produce the bulk of everyday ceramics. Vintage kyusu are important collector's items made entirely from now exhausted deposits of the highest quality natural clay of the respective region, achieving tea infusions of an incomparable calibre.

Tokoname Yaki

Tokoname Yaki (常滑焼, Aichi Prefecture)

The oldest of the legendary Six Ancient Kilns (roku koyo, 日本六古窯), Tokoname has been producing high-quality earthenware since the 12th century. Present-day Tokoname, housing about 200 kilns, is now the largest site of ceramics production. The pure natural clay (shudei) is red, rich in iron and has a special influence on the taste and effect of green tea. Unlike other regions, Tokoname still has reserves of its famous natural clay, although they are diminishing.

For the famous Shudei kyusu, the clay used is as ferruginous and fine-grained as possible (tatsuchi). This type of clay is found under rice fields in Tokoname and gives the teapot its special properties and colour. Genuine Hon Shudei clay, which contains the ideal iron content, is now so rare, however, that the clay is now enriched with natural iron oxide in order to achieve the desired shade.

For differently coloured kyusu, the potter sprays on a mixture of red clay and natural pigments after shaping the base. This process is called chara-gake. The kyusu is then fired. Finished Shudei pots have a special shine, which is achieved by polishing the kyusu with a metal spatula or cloth before firing. For this reason, glazes or painted decorations are often dispensed with, leaving the clay to speak for itself.

In the production of Tokoname kyusu, firing is done using gas or electric kilns (oxidation firing for red shards and reduction firing for black shards). Some studios, especially those of well-known artists, use a combination of the two techniques. Oxidation firing is done between 1,100 and 1,200 degrees Ceslsius, depending on the clay, and must be extremely carefully controlled die to the colour changes that occur and the risk of cracks developing.

The introduction of the multi-vaulted, multi-chamber hang kiln (renboshiki-noborigama, 連房式登窯) in 1834 improved the control of the firing process compared to earlier kilns. This, and the help of specialists from China, made the development of red unglazed shudei ware possible. Tokoname has become famous for the shudei kyusu made of red toki. However, the studios of the region are also known for many other techniques, such as the ash glaze (yakishime), the dark firing marks made by carbon impregnation (koge), celadon work and the mixing of different types and colours of clay.

Production

Clay

Natural red clay (shudei; 朱泥) enriched with natural bengara (弁柄; red iron oxide).

Ikomi/Rokuro

The components of the lid and jug are cast in a mould and then assembled by hand for a precise fit (ikomi; 鋳込み).

Reduction Firing (Kyo Kangen Shosei, 強還元焼成)

When firing ceramics, various processes start as the temperature rises. First, the water still left in the body evaporates. Above a temperature of 500°C, the clay is completely dehydrated and its chemical state is irreversible. The organic components burn - oxidation takes place. After solidification, the vitrification phase begins.

Reductive firing of the ceramic produces an excess of carbon and a reduction of oxygen in the kiln. Carbon monoxide extracts oxygen from the surroundings and the body. A strong smoke development is the result. The body changes colour, from light grey to black, depending on the intensity and time of the reduction. The clay has less oxygen, becomes firmer and more solid and at the same time acquires greater porosity. All in all, this leads to the specific properties of a kyusu fired in this way when preparing green tea in terms of taste and effect. After firing, the special clay, which is rich in minerals, reacts in a characteristic way with the ingredients of the tea and the water (see the tab on tea varieties).

Glaze

Wafer-thin, special clay layer (chara; チャラ) which develops a characteristic sheen with age.

Character

This traditional kyusu, with a special strainer and particularly bulbous body for deeply steamed Japanese teas (Fukamushi), is handmade from natural clay by a small, specialised studio in the famous Tokoname. The tradition of craftsmanship and the extremely careful method of production make this kyusu the ideal entry-level and everyday model for connoisseurs of high-quality Japanese green teas.

The largest and oldest of the legendary Six Ancient Kilns of Japan, Tokoname has been producing high-quality earthenware since the 12th century. The particularly iron-rich clay deposits of the region give the wares their characteristic red colour which, combined with oxidation firing, are key elements in their ability to optimise the teas' flavour. A special feature of the production of kyusu from Tokoname are the lids, which are ground by hand and fit precisely.

Details

  • Handmade in original Tokoname Studio
  • Lid ground in by hand
  • Red, ferruginous natural clay
  • Special sieve and special bulbous body for deep steamed green teas (fukamushi)
  • Oxidation firing to emphasise noble bitter flavours, especially suitable for strong green teas such as sencha, tamaryokucha and kamairicha

Suitable for

Recommended for the Following Japanese Green Teas:

All strong and noble bitter varieties of the 1st harvest.
Varieties: Sencha, Tamaryokucha, Kamairicha
Harvest: 1st harvest
Cultivars: Benifuuki, Koshun, Meiryoku, Okuyutaka, Omune, Sofu, Yamakai, Yabukita, Zairai (native), blends of these cultivars.

Due to its special composition, red earthenware from oxidation firing accentuates the noble bitterness of superior green teas and helps them to become clearly more effective.

For long-term use, it is advisable to stick to similar tea types, such as those recommended above. Kyusus made of natural clay develop a patina in interaction with each tea, improving and intensifying their flavour over time. For this reason, too, avoid the use of tap or bottled water with a high lime content. Soft water (similar to natural mountain spring water), will not harm the patina.

Application

For the care of high-quality Japanese ceramics, please use low-limestone, soft water for all preparations and cleaning steps.

A kyusu should first be warmed with warm water before the actual tea preparation so that the clay can react better with the tea leaves. Only then are the tea needles put in with a wooden spoon. Depending on taste, variety and quality, 1-3 heaped teaspoons per person are recommended. Advanced connoisseurs usually prepare the tea much stronger than beginners, who are less accustomed to the intense taste and bitter substances.

Now pour the water carefully and slowly over the leaves, ideally from a yuzamashi (vessel for cooling the water after boiling) of the same or similar clay and firing. For better results, fill the water only to the top third of the sieve. During the brewing time, please close the lid.

To pour, hold the kyusu with one hand so that the thumb rests on the knob. Make sure that the small opening on the lid is at the same level with the spout. Then pour the tea slowly into the cup in several puffs and drink it fresh. If several cups are being filled, they should be poured in small steps one after the other to achieve an even result for all cups. At the end of the pouring process, carefully but firmly jerk the kyusu downwards repeatedly with both hands to extract the last, particularly rich drops from the tea.

Then leave the kyusu closed for the next infusion. After the last infusion, remove the tea completely from the kyusu and rinse it vigorously with water only. Do not scratch or otherwise clean the inside. Finally, rinse the inside and outside of the pot with low-limestone, soft water in order to avoid detrimental limescale deposits. Briefly rub the outside with a clean cloth, then leave the kyusu open to dry completely.

Care

Cleaning the Interior:

Clean only with water and a soft cloth. If dirty, wipe with infused green tea.

Cleaning the Exterior:

Only rinse with clean water containing as little lime as possible. During use, the kyusu accumulates a valuable patina on the inside which should not be removed.

If using tap water to rinse the kyusu, rinse it afterwards with low-lime, soft water inside and out to prevent any detrimental limescale deposits. Then wipe the outside with a clean, soft cloth.

For long-term use, it is advisable to stick to similar tea types, such as those recommended above. Kyusus made of natural clay develop a patina in interaction with each tea, improving and intensifying their flavour over time. For this reason, too, avoid the use of tap or bottled water with a high lime content. Soft water (similar to natural mountain spring water), will not harm the patina.

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