12 Days of Kyusu

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Jo
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:54 am

Our 5th day selection is a Hokujo 250ml kyusu with a mayake-like finish.

When Chip purchased this year's ago, he thought he was obtaining a wood-fired mayake kyusu due to the apparently vague wording in the description. He made a recommendation to the seller to be more clear in describing the kyusu. Chip thought that he was getting a great deal on a Mayake Hokujo which actually sells for $100s more. The seller agreed to adopt his 'mayake-like finish' term for clarity to prevent future misunderstandings.

The pot has a very classic ball shape, almost a perfect sphere, which is very pleasing to the eye. As with all of Hokujo's kyusu, there seems to be a high degree of perfection, they are simply flawlessly made.

The patina on this particular pot surprisingly appeared rather rapidly.

The sasame screen allows for a higher volume pour, but not as smooth as the Yamada Sou (s). This screen tends to remove all the leaf particles from the liquor. Hokujo adds a tiny curve to the end of his spouts which seems to pull the tea down verses out. It is a cleverly designed and constructed (see photo) spout that allows for a purposefully retricted flow with zero dribbling.

The tea this am was was sweet, extremely low in bitterness, with a little more astringency than the Yamaha Sou pots, but less than Tachi. Full-flavored with nice mouthfeel, this clay is definitely not controlling the tea.
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Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:58 am

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Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:01 am

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Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:04 am

Hokujo's "engineered" spout absolutely affects pour. Pours downward vs outward.
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Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:06 am

Hokujo kyusu patina very quickly in my experience. Both interior and exterior. You can w/o hesitation pick out which kyusu below was not used ... yet. While the one on the far left has been obviously used the most.
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Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:46 am

Patina extreme. For a while I had been using this Mogake once or twice a day. Likely hundreds of sessions.

Both the tea and the water have left their marks. The exterior clay is darkened noticeably while the interior is heavily "patina-ed".
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If you look closely, water over time left its mark in "frosting" on the exterior. Also some dribbling took place.
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Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:29 pm

I will endeavor to rate each kyusu based upon the following categories on a scale of 1-10. With a noteworthy citation if applicable. 

Appearance-my impression
Form-relative conduciveness to brewing the test tea
Feel-tactile in hand
Pour & Screen function
Flavor based on test tea only
Overall

Yakishime mayake-like kyusu by Hokujo

Appearance- when I purchased, I thought I was getting a mayake, not a "mayake-like" kyusu. Fortunately I did not pay Hokujo "mayake price"! Still, I love the perfect sphere shape and it looks very nice. 8
Form- Very lightweight despite the "mayake-like" finish. Very well executed. 9
Feel- I prefer the more textured, rougher feel of Hokujo's non "miyake-like" finish kyusu. The shape feels great in hand. Handle seems smallish for kyusu size. Other Hokujo seem more in proportion. A bit picky on my part albeit and not a problem in use. 8
Pour and screen function- the whole spout thing (discussed in previous posts) is pretty amazing, but it makes "high pours" kind of ... awkward. The screen works extremely well, but maybe too well for my preference. 9
Flavor- this is redemption for this kyusu. Flavor was outstanding! I sensed the clay was not taming this tea and did not impart mineral nor metal taste. Perfect ... 10
Overall- I am obviously a bit harsh on this kyusu because of the whole "mayake-like finish" issue. Had I used a different Hokujo, ratings would have been higher across the board and overall a 10. Bottom line, this kyusu nailed the flavor! For that, I can forgive other "perceived by me" shortcomings". 9

Generally, I think Hokujo kyusu are truly outstanding and readily available in various shapes and sizes!
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Victoria
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:41 pm

Curious if you chose to rate Hokujo’s “mayake-like" kyusu by chance or if there was a larger intention (rather than rate the one you use most that has beautiful mogake pattern)? Looking inside my Hojuko yakishime kyusu the patina is darker than yours because I use three of them for roasted oolong, and the fourth for sencha which does have a lighter patina, but this one doesn’t get as much use as yours.

None of my Hokujo pots have dripping tea deposits under the spout. I’m thinking this may have to do with differences in water and how we clean our pots after use; I have two dedicated Nanolon towels, one for drying outside one for inside of pot, and I always place off boiled water into the pot, to heat it up so it dries more thoroughly, before towel drying. I am always very careful though when spot drying the inside of pots, too much pressure and the filter could crack.

Like you said, the sasame filter that he uses creates a perfect pour and never gets clogged. Aesthetically, I prefer the simpler Yamada family slightly bulging hand punched wall filters, but do find Hokujo’s more mechanical looking sasame filters function perfectly, even with fukamushi very fine needles.

Interesting that the three craftsmen you have shared with us so far have all introduced new clay types and production methods within the framework of their traditional craft and location;
  • Yamada Sou’s wood fired Shigaraki clay from Lake Biwa (even though he is a Tokoname craftsman); Aoyu (blue) & Mayake (wood fired).
  • Tachi Masaki with Shigaraki clay from Lake Biwa. He is from Shigaraki, but best know for his Banko-ware.
  • Shimizu Genji (Hokujo), high fired unglazed stoneware, Yakishime, sourced in an ancient lake bed, Lake Tokai, Tokoname. Tokoname craftsmen are mostly known for red clay kyusu.
Shimizu Genji (Hokujo kiln 3rd generation) designated Master of Traditional Craftsman by the government, and broke with Tokoname tradition by introducing a new type of clay, natural unprocessed high fired unglazed stoneware, Yakishime. Asako Isobe shared with me that it is sourced from an ancient lake bed, Lake Tokai in Tokoname. I find this reduction fired iron oxide rich clay really brings out aroma, body, and aftertaste in roasted oolong. The pour like Chip said is perfect, the lid fit very precise.
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There is no self
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:53 pm

I'm envisioning a tv programme called 12 Days of Kyusu, with Chip preparing the tea and Jo explaining every process in detail. Bloopers include Chip high on caffeine making tea-related puns.

Jokes aside, your pots are beautiful, and after reading your posts I'm now craving for sencha again.
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debunix
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:26 pm

I've been reading along, enjoying my morning sencha, and reassuring my Petr Novak kyusu that the blue Yamada Sou has not replaced it in my affections.

A little counting now.....and unless I count my backhandled pots as Kyusus, I can't come up with 12 Days of Kyusu myself. Will continue to enjoy the journey with Chip & Jo.....
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Jo
Mrs. Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:42 pm

There is no self wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:53 pm
I'm envisioning a tv programme called 12 Days of Kyusu, with Chip preparing the tea and Jo explaining every process in detail. Bloopers include Chip high on caffeine making tea-related puns.

Jokes aside, your pots are beautiful, and after reading your posts I'm now craving for sencha again.
Lol, how funny.

FYI, I actually play Chip's secretary, he dictates his thoughts to me, I interpret and tweek his responses. After being together for 40 years, it works :P
.m.
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:44 pm

Thanks Chip and Jo. I find this very exciting and can't wait to see and hear about the kyusus of the upcoming days. I'm even hoping for a second season. :D
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Jo
Mrs. Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:52 pm

.m. wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:44 pm
Thanks Chip and Jo. I find this very exciting and can't wait to see and hear about the kyusus of the upcoming days. I'm even hoping for a second season. :D
:oops: Well, we probably could ... :shock:
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Chip
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:00 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:41 pm
Curious if you chose to rate Hokujo’s “mayake-like" kyusu by chance or if there was a larger intention (rather than rate the one you use most that has beautiful mogake pattern)? Looking inside my Hojuko yakishime kyusu the patina is darker than yours because I use three of them for roasted oolong, and the fourth for sencha which does have a lighter patina, but this one doesn’t get as much use as yours.

None of my Hokujo pots have dripping tea deposits under the spout. I’m thinking this may have to do with differences in water and how we clean our pots after use; I have two dedicated Nanolon towels, one for drying outside one for inside of pot, and I always place off boiled water into the pot, to heat it up so it dries more thoroughly, before towel drying. I am always very careful though when spot drying the inside of pots, too much pressure and the filter could crack.

Like you said, the sasame filter that he uses creates a perfect pour and never gets clogged. Aesthetically, I prefer the simpler Yamada family slightly bulging hand punched wall filters, but do find Hokujo’s more mechanical looking sasame filters function perfectly, even with fukamushi very fine needles.

Interesting that the three craftsmen you have shared with us so far have all introduced new clay types and production methods within the framework of their traditional craft and location;
  • Yamada Sou’s wood fired Shigaraki clay from Lake Biwa (even though he is a Tokoname craftsman); Aoyu (blue) & Mayake (wood fired).
  • Tachi Masaki with Shigaraki clay from Lake Biwa. He is from Shigaraki, but best know for his Banko-ware.
  • Shimizu Genji (Hokujo), high fired unglazed stoneware, Yakishime, sourced in an ancient lake bed, Lake Tokai, Tokoname. Tokoname craftsmen are mostly known for red clay kyusu.
Shimizu Genji (Hokujo kiln 3rd generation) designated Master of Traditional Craftsman by the government, and broke with Tokoname tradition by introducing a new type of clay, natural unprocessed high fired unglazed stoneware, Yakishime. Asako Isobe shared with me that it is sourced from an ancient lake bed, Lake Tokai in Tokoname. I find this reduction fired iron oxide rich clay really brings out aroma, body, and aftertaste in roasted oolong. The pour like Chip said is perfect, the lid fit very precise.
I was going to use a Hokujo and spontaneously chose the "mayake-like" one as the water was heating. In hindsight, I would have chosen the bare Yakishime ... I make bad spontaneous decisions IRL.

TBH, back when I was using the mogake kyusu daily ... likely hundreds of sessions ... I may have assumed the kyusu was not dribbling. At that time, unless I saw an issue, I would always simply rinse thoroughly with left over hot water from my kettle. I do always rinse thoroughly inside and out.

My pattern back then was to select a kyusu for Japanese tea and use it consecutively until I was bored or Jo complained, whichever came first. :mrgreen:

More recently, after having dribbling stain (tomorrow's) kyusu, I began a wet bare finger and thumb rub of the spout exterior and then rinse. And I am constantly changing kyusu.

Also, I never towel dry inside nor outside, air dry only ... up side down first and then right side up until fully dry. Occassionally, I clean out the spout interior when I notice it is gunking up. And if the screen needs the holes unclogged. But that is all.

Tomorrow's kyusu ... well ... similar pattern is all I will say now.

I was not aware Hokujo's Yakishime were reduction fired?!?!? Does not have the appearance of reduction firing.

Hokujo is indeed precise in his execution! The lid is an example of this. Tomorrow's ... not so much. 😎
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OCTO
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:08 pm

@Chip @Jo this thread is really scratching my itch for Japanese clay tea ware... hahahahahaha....... *must resist temptation.... rubbing itch...*

Keep reminding self.... *don’t scratch... don’t scratch*

:mrgreen: :D :lol:
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