Hokujo, Kobiwako & Iga Clay

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Bok
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Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:37 am

A dear friend has graciously given me a Kobiwako teapot from Hojo. I set it against Hokujos clay in a duel.

Hojo describes the Kobiwako clay as making the water sweet and giving body to the tea. Water put in it, becomes sweet.

Hokujo on the other hand, has ever since I got it become my go to pot for greener high mountain tea. It has a very special effect on those teas.

It felt like sweet water and added body would be a good match for gaoshan as well, so I decided to test the two side by side.

The Kobiwako clay has an astonishing texture which feels soft, in combination with its colour, it looks like a cookie! Delicious. Spout design is ingenious, first when you tilt the pot, even with speed, it pours slow, then becomes a fast pour. So, dripping impossible. :mrgreen: Do not think many potters can match what Japanese potters are capable in terms of functionality!

It is not the perfect side by side, as volumes and shape are slightly different. But good enough for a rough impression.

I used a Lishan Winter harvest. First results are that the Kobiwako does indeed give a lovely body to the tea, slightly sweeter as well. The difference is not large, but noticeable. Will further experiment, to confirm first impressions.

Anyone has Kobiwako teaware and can share some experiences?
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pedant
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Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:13 am

i tried comparing tonight with a green oolong made from shizu-7132 from thés du japon.
i used the same amount of tea and brewed for the same amount of time in parallel.

hokujo tokoname vs junzo kobiwako 1.jpg
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in this test, i liked MAEKAWA Junzo's (前川淳蔵) kobiwako clay best, followed by porcelain, and then hokujo's tokoname clay last.

the porcelain had maybe the best aroma of the three but also had some harsh sourness and pepperiness.
hokujo was smoother, sourness and pepperiness gone. slightly less aroma?
junzo was similar to hokujo. maybe a little sweeter and a little less aroma.

i thought comparison was easier after they cooled off. they all tasted great though and very similar. i'm splitting hairs here and grasping at things to say. i'd happily drink from any of the three.
probably the biggest difference was that the sourness was tamed by the unglazed clay.

hokujo tokoname vs junzo kobiwako 2.jpg
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pedant
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Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:20 am

regarding junzo's craftsmanship.. i think it's excellent.

the pot i have from him has excellent ergonomics. his stuff is made with practicality in mind. nice, wide openings. generous handles. two air holes in the lid. form follows function, and yet nothing looks bad or over-exaggerated. hojo says junzo studied engineering, and it shows.

as for the spouts, the pot i have has excellent pour, and it's difficult to make it dribble in normal use but not completely impossible if you first prime it by wetting the spout's underside to make it more hydrophilic.
i think easily one of the best spouts i've seen. a little better than my hokujo pots (which are also great). i think it's surpassed only by jozan IV (yamada emu) and his son, yamada sou.
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Bok
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Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:47 am

Thanks for sharing! Was beginning to wonder how come no one owns one of these pots…

Your findings pretty much confirm my own impressions. The Kobiwako seems really good for certain green-greenish teas. Umami-enhancing. It pains me to say, but for me Hokujo has been replaced for my gaoshans, need to find it another leaf to soak in…

However, yesterday I tried a greener Duckshit Dancong from 2017 and it took away too much of what I enjoyed in porcelain. More body, but all in all not an improved cup. The lovely high notes were gone. Need to see how Hokujo performs.

@pedant, apart from spout design, how do the Yamadas fare in terms of taste?
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Bok
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Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:42 am

Today it is Hokujos turn to sip some Duckshit. Taking it better than the Kobiwako. Still, seems to me lightly oxidised DC is better left in porcelain! Hokujo, takes away some of the high notes, yet introduces something else, similar to when I used it for high mountain. Not enough though to make it a DC pot I am afraid...
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Bok
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Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:21 am

Good news, I found Hokujo a new job after its unexpected firing from the high mountain assignment. Turns out the clay works really good with very fresh lightly oxidised Phoenix Dancong!

Rounds off some of the green edginess. Lovely!
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pedant
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Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:30 am

Bok wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:47 am
pedant, apart from spout design, how do the Yamadas fare in terms of taste?
i think they've used different clays, but i haven't tried rigorously comparing them against each other or other artists'. i didn't notice any remarkable effect. i love drinking out of my jozan4 pot.

maybe @Baisao has some input?
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Baisao
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Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:28 pm

pedant wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:30 am
Bok wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:47 am
pedant, apart from spout design, how do the Yamadas fare in terms of taste?
i think they've used different clays, but i haven't tried rigorously comparing them against each other or other artists'. i didn't notice any remarkable effect. i love drinking out of my jozan4 pot.

maybe Baisao has some input?
I haven't compared Yamada family pots to the pots mentioned above but I do have a good bit of experience with Yamada family shudei. My experience with Yamada family shudei has been that they are somewhat variable in their effect on teas.

I have a few Jozan III teapots that contribute sweetness and smoothness to teas, but one that is a little rough*. His shudei does not resemble the shudei currently used by Emu and So Yamada. It is hard, lustrous, and deeply red-orange, rather than having a chalky texture and pale color.

I have two my Emu Yamada teapots. The one from 2006 has clay that kind of resembles the shudei used by Jozan Yamada III. It makes really great tea but doesn't transform it much. The more contemporary teapot I have from him has a chalky texture to it, like the shudei used by So Yamada. It seems muting and subtly rough* to me, but otherwise does no harm. It's not bad by any means, but I prefer the shudei sample I have from 2006.

Based upon the clay used by Emu and So Yamada these days, I have to think that So's teapots perform the same as his father's contemporary teapots.

The pour from Emu and So Yamada's teapots is nothing short of amazing! You cannot force them to drip.

The most transformative shudei in my experience has come from Taisuke Shiraiwa, in Hokkaido. I've only tried one pot from him but it makes tea that is exceptionally sweet and soft, almost creamy in texture. I am trying a second teapot from him this afternoon and will report back after I've put a few steeps through it.

* like there are microscopic spikes of texture; perhaps this could be improved by making more tea with them
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Baisao
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Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:59 pm

Ok, I can confirm that Taisuke Shiraiwa's shudei teapots are exceptionally smoothing and sweet from the two examples I've tried. It's quite obvious. He mines his clay locally in Hokkaido from what I understand. Perhaps it is the mineral content or texture. Tea from these pots are noticeably smoother in texture that he Yamada family's shudei, regardless of generation.

Some people have said that the affect I am describing is the result of wood firing, but I cannot confirm this aspect.
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Bok
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Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:54 pm

Baisao wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:59 pm
Taisuke Shiraiwa
Thanks for introducing, I am still at the beginners level in terms of Japanese pottery. In regards to the Yamadas, I have read that they only used the pure Tokoname red clay until a certain point of time, when it got depleted. If I remember correctly, only until the early works of Jozan IV. The pure red clay of Tokoname is more on the orange side. This seems to be the clay some compare to Zhuni clay. Same properties do not apply any longer to the contemporary red clay. Might explain some of the discrepancies in performance? Source for all this statements was somewhere on Hojo’s website, not sure if it represents the general consensus.
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Baisao
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Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:21 pm

Bok wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:54 pm
Baisao wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:59 pm
Taisuke Shiraiwa
Thanks for introducing, I am still at the beginners level in terms of Japanese pottery. In regards to the Yamadas, I have read that they only used the pure Tokoname red clay until a certain point of time, when it got depleted. If I remember correctly, only until the early works of Jozan IV. The pure red clay of Tokoname is more on the orange side. This seems to be the clay some compare to Zhuni clay. Same properties do not apply any longer to the contemporary red clay. Might explain some of the discrepancies in performance? Source for all this statements was somewhere on Hojo’s website, not sure if it represents the general consensus.
It was either Emu or So who said that Jozan III had cached enough shudei to last the family for generations. That doesn't explain why there is such a difference in the shudei they are using. Perhaps it did go extinct and they are now using a cache of clay that just happens to be different. I'll stop short of saying there's a profound difference in flavor but there is a profound difference in the look and feel of the clays.

I can see why some people would compare older shudei to lao zhuni. They have a similar luster and color even if shudei is more... wait for it... porous. :lol:
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Bok
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Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:24 pm

Baisao wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:21 pm
I can see why some people would compare older shudei to lao zhuni. They have a similar luster and color even if shudei is more... wait for it... porous. :lol:
:mrgreen:
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OCTO
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Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:50 pm

Baisao wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:21 pm
Bok wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:54 pm
Baisao wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:59 pm
Taisuke Shiraiwa
Thanks for introducing, I am still at the beginners level in terms of Japanese pottery. In regards to the Yamadas, I have read that they only used the pure Tokoname red clay until a certain point of time, when it got depleted. If I remember correctly, only until the early works of Jozan IV. The pure red clay of Tokoname is more on the orange side. This seems to be the clay some compare to Zhuni clay. Same properties do not apply any longer to the contemporary red clay. Might explain some of the discrepancies in performance? Source for all this statements was somewhere on Hojo’s website, not sure if it represents the general consensus.
It was either Emu or So who said that Jozan III had cached enough shudei to last the family for generations. That doesn't explain why there is such a difference in the shudei they are using. Perhaps it did go extinct and they are now using a cache of clay that just happens to be different. I'll stop short of saying there's a profound difference in flavor but there is a profound difference in the look and feel of the clays.

I can see why some people would compare older shudei to lao zhuni. They have a similar luster and color even if shudei is more... wait for it... porous. :lol:
😂
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pedant
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:20 pm

more praise for the hojo kobiwako clay:

viewtopic.php?p=9932#p9932
viewtopic.php?p=9946#p9946
plamarca000
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Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:00 pm

I just got a Gisui Shudei 80ml off ebay that I will be trying to use with gaoshan. Anyone enjoy this pairing?
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