Kyusu Teapot Complete Guide by Japanese Tea Experts
The iconic kyusu teapot has basically become a symbol for Japanese green tea. Thanks to it’s unique design, it has become a favorite among Japanese tea drinkers, but there may even be more features to it than you previously thought. In this article, we are going to talk all about the kyusu teapot, the different types of kyusu teapots and how to use the kyusu teapot. Without further ado, let’s get started.
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What is a Kyusu Teapot
The word kyusu simply means teapot, but often when people use the word they refer to a specific type. The side handle kyusu teapot is the most common and most famous of the Japanese teapots, so that is mostly what we will talk about today. This teapot is usually made out of clay and it comes primarily in the colors red and black, although it can come in a variety of other colors as well. The teapot usually has a built in filter, made out of either clay or metal which automatically sifts out the tea leaves as you pour. This clay teapot is designed to prepare the perfect cups of Japanese green tea and soon we’re going to discuss why that is.
Different Kinds of Kyusu Teapots
Before we talk about the benefits of the japanese kyusu teapot, let’s briefly discuss the different kinds of teapots.
Kyusu Teapot Colors
Red Kyusu Teapots
These orange-red kyusu teapots are made from unoxidized clay. The most sought after clay used to make this teapot is from Tokoname, a small town in Japan. This clay is thick and can hold liquid even when it is unglazed. It also is less porous, so the flavor isn’t absorbed by the clay itself, making the tea taste milder. The tokoname kyusu is well sought after, and they are considered to be the best.
Black Kyusu Teapot
This black kyusu teapot is made from red clay fired in an oxygen rich environment. The clay turns colors when it is oxidized, and produces this sleek black color. This requires extra work in the production process as well as an extra firing in the kiln and as a result black teapots tend to be more expensive than red kyusu teapots, all else being equal.
Kyusu Teapot Filters
Metal Filter in a Kyusu Teapot:
This is a great filter for beginners and it works for a lot of different tea types. When it comes to Fukamushi senchas, you will definitely prefer the metal sifter over the clay one. The reason for this is that during the deep steaming process, the tea leaf breaks down and the smaller leaf fragments can clog the filter quite easily. If you have this circular metal filter built into the teapot, the water will just move around the leaves and easily pour into the cup.
The downside to the metal filter is that it may slightly interfere with the taste of the tea. Some connoisseurs of Japanese green tea prefer to not use metal at all in the tea brewing process, as it can interfere with the subtle taste characteristics of the tea. If you are not a picky tea drinker, the metal filter is likely the right choice.
Clay Filter in a Kyusu Teapot
When you see a clay filter inside a kyusu teapot, chances are it was hand carved into it. This process is very labor intensive and can make the kyusu teapot much more expensive. The benefit is that the tea leaves you brew are in contact with nothing other than clay and water. This leads to a slight improvement in flavor, particularly with Gyokuro.
Kyusu Teapot Glazes
Unglazed Kyusu Teapots
These kyusu teapots are made without a layer of glaze, so rather than the tea being in contact with a glass-like surface, they are in contact with the clay itself. Some serious tea drinkers report having a richer savory flavor when brewing Gyokuro in an unglazed teapot. Another benefit of these unglazed kyusu teapots is that they can be “seasoned” with a particular tea and boost the flavor profiles of that tea every time it is brewed.
Glazed Kyusu Teapot
These teapots are better for beginners, because they provide more neutrality. If you are brewing one particular type of tea over and over again, you may want to get an unglazed teapot, but if you are brewing multiple types a glazed teapot is the best option. You can go from brewing hojicha to sencha with just a quick rinse in between, and the flavors will not interfere with one another. If you are investing in just one kyusu teapot for all of your teas, it’s best to make it a glazed one.
Kyusu Teapot Sizes
Large Kyusu Teapots
These larger clay teapots have a capacity of around 400ml of water. They are still small compared to western style teapots, but considering that it only takes 150ml to brew a pot of Japanese green tea, these teapots have plenty of space. If you are going to be preparing tea for multiple people, you may want to get a larger capacity kyusu teapot and use slightly more water. If you are planning on just brewing green tea for yourself, we recommend using less water to really concentrate the flavor of the tea.
Small Kyusu Teapots
The smaller kyusu teapots have a capacity of about 200ml of water. This may seem like its too small for brewing tea, but when it comes to premium Japanese green tea, you really want to concentrate the flavor into a smaller space. This smaller teapot is the perfect size for that, and because it is so small it maintains a light and compact design that is very elegant to pour.
What is the History of the Kyusu Teapot
The Japanese kyusu teapot actually originated in China but like many other things related to tea, it eventually made its way to Japan. At the time, the most common way to consume tea in Japan was in powdered form. This primitive form of matcha was made by grinding dried tea leaves into a powder and then mixing it into hot water. This type of tea was popularized because of it’s use in the Japanese tea ceremony, a ritual of tea preparation that follows a strict set of rules and principles.
Some began to desire a simpler way to enjoy tea, without all the rules of the Japanese tea ceremony. A farmer by the name Nagatani Soen came along and developed a new method of tea production. He discovered that by steaming, rolling and drying the tea leaves, the flavor could be locked in for a longer time. These dried leaves could then be infused into water and strained out to create a translucent tea called “sencha”.
Soon sencha became the most popular type of tea consumed in Japan, and the kyusu teapot became a household item to infuse the leaves and prepare delicious cups of sencha tea. Now, the clay teapot still is the tool of choice for tea shops and restaurants across Japan.
What are the benefits of a Kyusu Teapot
The side-handled kyusu teapot has many benefits to it. First, the side handle is hollow so it doesn’t retain as much heat as the rest of the pot. This really helps when it comes to pouring the tea, as it stays cool to the touch, even when you add hot water to the base of the kyusu teapot.
The side handle of the kyusu teapot also allows you to pour with more refined movements. With those larger cast iron teapots, not only are they extremely heavy, but they also require you to move your entire arm in order to pour them. With the kyusu teapot, all it takes is a simple turn of the wrist to pour the tea into the cup.
Finally, the teapot itself provides the leaves more space, which is really important when it comes to preparing loose leaf tea. When you brew tea inside a strainer, the tea leaves are cramped inside, and they really aren’t able to open up to release their flavor. This problem is even worse when it comes to teabags, as they have even less space to move when brewing. The wide base of the kyusu teapot gives the leaves the space they need and allows you to create richer, more flavorful infusions.
How to use a Japanese Kyusu Teapot
Now that you know a little bit about the kyusu teapot, let’s talk about how to use it! When it comes to preparing a cup of Japanese green tea, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps.
Step 1: Add 5 grams of leaves to the base of your kyusu teapot. If you don’t have a scale at home, you can use approximately 1 heaping tablespoon of tea leaves.
Step 2: Add in 150ml of warm water. When it comes to the temperature, you will want to use 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) for Gyokuro and some sweeter senchas and 70 degrees C (160 degrees F) for the other types of Japanese green teas.
Step 3: Let the teapot sit with the lid on for about 1 minute. When it comes to Gyokuro, you may want to wait a full 2 minutes. This tea is tightly rolled into these needle shapes and they may need a full 2 minutes to open up. Fukamushi senchas tend to have smaller leaf particles, and they often only need 45 seconds to brew.
Step 4: Pour the tea out into a cup. The built-in filter will automatically sift out the leaves as you pour and stop the infusion at the perfect time. If you are pouring tea for multiple people, you may want to alternate the pouring. The most flavorful tea will be poured out last, so you will want to divide this evenly between guests so everyone gets about the same flavor.
What do You need in a kyusu teapot set?
when it comes to a kyusu teapot set or a kyusu tea set, you may want to get some small clay tea cups along with your kyusu teapot. These clay tea cups are also called Yunomi, and while they are not something you absolutely need, some people like to use tea cups that match the teapot itself.
Rather than getting a kyusu tea set, we simply recommend you just invest in the kyusu teapot and when it comes to tea cups, simply use whatever you already have.
Where can you buy a kyusu teapot?
You can find kyusu teapots all over our website. We currently have a few different types. There are the red tokoname kyusu teapots, the black tokoname kyusu teapots and the Fukamushi teapot. The red teapots and the fukamushi teapot have a built in metal filter, while the black tokoname kyusu has a built in clay filter. This makes the first two a better choice for beginners, and the black tokoname kyusu a good choice for the more experienced tea drinker.
If you would like to get a free kyusu teapot, we will send you one when you sign up for the monthly tea club. With this offer, you get 2 new packs of tea delivered every month at a 16% discount. This is a great way to try different kinds of teas and save money.
Thank you all so much for reading. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about the kyusu teapot or about Japanese green tea in general.