Tea Caddy

Gato Mikio

A textured Japanese tea caddy carved from hardwearing zelkova wood and coated in natural black Urushi lacquer, with an additional inner lid to keep teas extra fresh. Hand-turned at Gato Mikio: a woodworking atelier with over a hundred years' history. Suitable for all types of tea.


Pair this item with matching Nokome Strainer and Chakoboshi basin.


Product Wooden tea caddy with inner lid
Origin Yamanaka, Japan
Dimensions Ø7.5cm x 10.5cm
Dimensions 100g (approx.)
Material Japanese Zelkova (Keyaki), natural Urushi lacquer


Each item is handmade and unique, therefore colour and patterning will vary.


Delivery : 1–3 business days

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Gato Mikio 我戸幹男

In 1908, master woodturner Komakichi Gato founded his woodworking plant in Yamanaka Onsen to make Kiji: the plain wooden vessels that make up the foundation of Urushi lacquered wares. Come the second generation, lacquer began to be applied to their bare Kiji, and now in their fourth generation Gato Mikio is a fully-fledged lacquerware brand committed to preserving Yamanaka Urushi traditions by carefully adapting them to the modern world. Frequently working in collaboration with contemporary Japanese designers, Gato Mikio offers authentic and elegant tableware that has won them numerous design awards both at home and abroad.

Chazutsu 茶筒

Tea caddies or Chazutsu are containers in which to store tea leaves over an extended period of time. Consisting of the characters for tea and cylinder – the typical shape for Chazutsu – they are made of opaque materials: generally wood, metal or plastic, to block out light, which together with air causes tea to lose its colour, smell and taste. Unlike the lacquered Natsume or ceramic Cha-ire containers used to store powdered matcha tea during traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, Chazutsu are designed to be as airtight as possible, often having a second inner lid for extra protection against damp and odours, so that tea leaves can stay fresh for a month or more, depending on the type of tea.

Yamanaka Shikki

The small hot spring resort town of Yamanaka Onsen has not only been immortalised in numerous Haiku by the celebrated Japanese poet Bashō, extolling the virtues of its rejuvenating waters – but is also renowned for its rich lacquerware heritage. Nestled amongst the mountains of Ishikawa prefecture, on the northwestern coast of Japan, Yamanaka Onsen’s humid climate is particularly well suited for working with natural Urushi lacquer. The origins of Yamanaka Shikki (山中漆器) or Yamanaka lacquerware, can be traced back to around 1580 with the arrival of a group of woodworkers from the nearby city of Echizen who specialised in the art of Rokuro-biki (轆轤挽き) – woodturning: shaping wood on a lathe. The goods they produced were sold as souvenirs to the onsen hot spring tourists and the area soon became known for its fine lacquerware, particularly tea ceremony accessories.

Yamanaka Shikki are characterised by practical, round utensils cut on the vertical grain (Tate-kidori 縦木取り) for added stability, as well as a decorative feature that brings out striking natural patterns. To highlight the beauty of the wood grain, Yamanaka wares are often coated in transparent lacquers, making these simple and robust designs perfect for daily use.

​​Urushi 漆

Traditional Japanese lacquer or Urushi is the purified sap of the Asian lacquer tree, which has been used for thousands of years in Japan to coat objects from crockery to furniture and buildings. When dry, lacquer is both heat and water resistant, therefore providing protection and strength to underlying materials, very often wood, but also bamboo, paper and leather. Lacquerware itself can be referred to as Urushi as well as Shikki (漆器 lit. “urushi vessel”), and with the development of acrylic resin in the last century, objects coated in synthetic lacquers, such as food-safe polyurethane, are considered Urushi/Shikki too. Pure natural Urushi is transparent, while the black and red lacquers most associated with Shikki are achieved with the addition of mineral pigments, over which traditional decorative details such as Maki-e (蒔絵) “sprinkled pictures” or Raden (螺鈿) “shell inlay” can be applied.

Japanese zelkova or Keyaki (欅) is a particularly strong and valuable wood that was historically used to make bows for samurai. Its density and beautiful grain make it perfect for the production of high quality Urushi wares, and in the case of Chazutsu, it offers excellent aroma protection and climate control for the loose tea stored inside. Before it can be used, the wood is stored for several years until it has sufficiently dried out to ensure that the final product does not warp. Once dried it is ready to be cut and turned into Kiji, which is then coated in multiple layers of lacquer.


Before first use, rinse the tea caddy with lukewarm water, wipe down with towel and make sure it is completely dry before putting any tea leaves in. Do not soak. It is advised to store the same type of tea in the caddy wherever possible, but if switching teas, then clean with lukewarm water only and leave to air with the lid off for a few days or until any lingering odours disappear.

Product Details

This handmade original Japanese tea caddy made of solid Zelkoven wood is ideal for storing loose tea of all varieties and qualities. Its special material and the special climate in Chazutsu keep the tea fresh for a particularly long time and even allow it to ripen significantly in taste and aroma. For tea connoisseurs and lovers of beautiful accessories, the Keyaki Nokome is a must.

A good chazutsu (茶筒; tea caddy) gains in quality over time and, from the point of view of a tea connoisseur, will become better and better in its function and in the taste it gives the tea. The volume for about 100g of loose green tea leaves enough room to store not only fine green teas, but also other, larger-volume teas.

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