Using Houhin or Shiboridashi instead of Gaiwan, and best all-purpose Japanese teapot

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Cifer
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Fri Jun 04, 2021 6:18 am

Hello everyone,

I am currently thinking about which teaware to buy to be able to brew most Chinese and Japanese teas.

Originally I was thinking of a 100 ml gaiwan for Chinese teas and a porcelain or glazed clay (as I don't want to dedicate it to one type of tea) kyusu for Japanese teas.

However, I'm wondering

a) what the difference between an "easy gaiwan" (the ones with a spout) and a shiboridashi/houhin with a similar shape (I've seen many that have a shape similar to a gaiwan) actually is, and if there would be any general disadvantage to using a porcelain or glazed clay houhin of a similar shape over a gaiwan with a spout or a shiboridashi. It seems to be the same thing but with a built-in strainer, so why could it be worse?

b) whether there would be any actual disadvantage to brewing all the Chinese teas in a houhin instead of a gaiwan

c) what the best teaware to brew a variety of Japanese teas would be. As stated above, I assume a porcellain or glazed clay kyusu, but I am not certain.

Thank you!
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pedant
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Fri Jun 04, 2021 5:02 pm

hi @Cifer, welcome to TeaForum! consider introducing yourself when you get a chance.

a) imo most easy gaiwans are basically hohin (see here for my thoughts on the differences).

b) no problem using a hohin for chinese teas as long as it's designed so that you can hold it without burning your fingers. some hohin/shibo do not take thermal dissipation into account where you hold it, so it can be too hot when brewed at chinese tea temperatures (often boiling). japanese teas are often brewed cooler.

c) the best is subjective. i usually use unglazed kyusu for sencha and gyokuro.
Cifer
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Fri Jun 04, 2021 5:10 pm

Thank you.

Is there any way to know just by looking at a photo which Shiboridashi is suitable for brewing hot tea without getting burned, as you pointed out?

And do I understand it correctly that using a shiboridashi to brew most Chinese teas (instead of a Gaiwan) and a glazed kyusu (to prevent it taking on the taste of the tea) to prepare a variety of Japanese teas would be a good minimalistic setup to brew the majority of common Chinese and Japanese teas?
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pedant
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Fri Jun 04, 2021 5:29 pm

if you have a pic, i can give you my opinion.
Ethan Kurland
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Fri Jun 04, 2021 5:41 pm

Are you buying online or from shops? Is your dexterity good or are you clumsy?

What I am getting to, is that use of some teaware is not easy for many of us. Burns (not major damage) & spills are so common. So it is wise to try before you buy. The variety of shapes & styles matters more to some of us for handling than it does for flavor. Glazed or unglazed matters , the thickness of the walls of the teaware....but using decent water & good tea leaves is what matters most for flavor; so, start with teaware that you can handle well, comfortably.
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pedant
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Fri Jun 04, 2021 8:49 pm

Cifer wrote:
Fri Jun 04, 2021 5:10 pm
And do I understand it correctly that using a shiboridashi to brew most Chinese teas (instead of a Gaiwan) and a glazed kyusu (to prevent it taking on the taste of the tea) to prepare a variety of Japanese teas would be a good minimalistic setup to brew the majority of common Chinese and Japanese teas?
that would be fine, but i'd choose a porcelain gaiwan and an unglazed kyusu (perhaps shudei).
GaoShan
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Fri Jun 04, 2021 9:22 pm

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Fri Jun 04, 2021 5:41 pm
Are you buying online or from shops? Is your dexterity good or are you clumsy?

What I am getting to, is that use of some teaware is not easy for many of us. Burns (not major damage) & spills are so common. So it is wise to try before you buy. The variety of shapes & styles matters more to some of us for handling than it does for flavor. Glazed or unglazed matters , the thickness of the walls of the teaware....but using decent water & good tea leaves is what matters most for flavor; so, start with teaware that you can handle well, comfortably.
I think this is important. As a self-identified clumsy person, handling a gaiwan is not fun, especially for short steeps. That's why I prefer porcelain teapots, even if the walls are a bit thicker. It's also sometimes hard to tell how easy a piece of teaware will be to handle if you only see it online. I have a thick-walled clay hohin that handles almost like a teapot, and the knobs are big enough that it doesn't burn my fingers even when I use near-boiling water.
Cifer
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Fri Jun 04, 2021 10:08 pm

Thanks again for the replies. I can manage a gaiwan fine, but I don't like it much. I usually use a tea standard taster set instead since it is very much the same, but less annoying to use. I've reconsidered and will probably stick with it for Chinese tea.

For Japanese tea, I've originally planned to purchase a porcelain kyusu because I wanted it to be as versatile as a gaiwan. However, as I am not that experienced with Japanese tea, I am not certain if this material - even if versatile - might be worse for Japanese tea since it doesn't retain heat as well and Japanese tea tends to be brewed longer. Are these concerns warranted?
I'm confused because I've frequently read that porcelain kyusu are favorable if you're planning to brew lots of different teas without changing their taste, while also reading that porcelain isn't that good for brewing Japanese tea because it needs to retain heat longer.

If it is indeed better to choose clay, I've heard that most kyusu don't absorb the flavor of teas too much, unlike Yixing for example. Is that true, and would whether it is glazed change this a lot and make it more versatile? What would be the reason for choosing unglazed clay if you want it to not change the taste of the tea too much?

I've also noticed that there seem to not be any porcelain kyusu with sasame strainers. Is that indeed so? If there really aren't then I'll probably have to go with clay anyway.

Ultimately, my question is now (regarding the usage for only one person, so small amounts of water): Couldn't I use a glazed or porcelain Shiboridashi to brew most kinds of Chinese teas (since it is essentially a gaiwan with a spout) and also most Japanese teas (since it retains most teas like a kyusu and alsl allows all the water to be drained)? A gaiwan would have the advantage that you can adjust the lid while pouring, which I don't need. It would therefore be a perfect replacement. But what advantage would a kyusu have over it?

Thanks again!
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wave_code
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Sat Jun 05, 2021 4:23 am

I'm not brewing so much sencha but... if you want something to be as diverse as possible and not have to dedicate to one type of tea I would go for a Japanese pot, either porcelain or glazed inside. after all there is nothing stopping you from using that pot to also make Chinese or other types of tea. Japanese pots often, but not always, tend to be bigger since a kyusu you would typically fill to only 2/3rd volume or so - no reason you couldn't also only fill a 200ml pot with 100ml of water for an oolong too for example. if the holes or strainer are very fine the pot may or may not pour slower than you would get with a gaiwan or cannon spout yixing, but those extra couple seconds won't matter for you at the moment. as a generalization you can usually get better value for money in modern Japanese teaware, and you can make Chinese tea in a Japanese pot, but a lot of Japanese tea I can see being a huge pain to make in a Chinese pot. it starts getting more complicated around things like volume, heat retention, so on... but if you are exploring and learning basics and finding what you like still theres no need to stress over that. just having a single good versatile pot will get you very far. if you decide to get more pots or other wares down the line having a good porcelain or glazed pot like that will always still come in useful - I find some teas that should brew up 'better' in yixing I still prefer in one of my porcelain pots. as for Japanese clay being less absorbent... that is all going to depend - some maybe less some maybe more. my banko pot I find retains smells more than any of my Chinese pots.

I'm not a huge fan of gaiwans, but they can be a very minimal investment which is a plus- while they are nice and cheap and you can find them often at an asian grocery finding one that is actually well made and is actually nice and pleasant to handle is trickier than it might seem. that said if it costs you $6 and you don't like it, no big loss and you now have a large cup. I bought a shibo that these days I actually use as a small pitcher rather than for brewing. I don't like them for Chinese teas in part because of the heat issue others mentioned... but also I find them slower to use than even a gaiwan - they have a rake and a spout so there is a directionality to them. you can't just grab it and pour regardless of the angle it is facing, you have to hold it the right way. if you are flash steeping at very high temps this can get fussy. also you can't really control how big your opening is with as much ease as a gaiwan.
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debunix
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Sat Jun 05, 2021 11:24 am

If you brew a lot of japanese teas with their fine leaf fragments, especially deep-steamed fukamushi senchas, sasame filters can be lovely, but the tiny holes in the filter are not really compatible with glazed interiors. That's one feature I've only seen in unglazed teapots.

For routine travel by car, where I can safely transport at least one vessel to infuse my tea on the road, and for a variety of teas including occasional strongly-flavored herbals, I bring a fully glazed not-too-tiny (125 mL) porcelain teapot by a Korean potter which works well enough for everything. That plus a fine tea strainer could cope with everything just fine.
Cifer
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Sat Jun 05, 2021 10:10 pm

Thanks for the answers again.

My all-purpose tool is currently a 150 ml (around 125 ml usable) tea taster set, but if i really feel like I need less volume I use a 100 ml gaiwan.

I'll probably just buy a porcelain tea pot with a volume of around 200 ml and a metal strainer since if I wanted ceramic strainer I'd have to either settle for a glazed pot with large strainer holes or an unglazed one if I want a sasame strainer. Or would large holes still work fine for most types of Japanese tea?
And would there be any reason to buy a strainer-less porcelain teapot and use a separate strainer instead?

And if it's possible to make such comparisons, how much volume in a tea pot would be comparable to a 100 ml and 150 ml gaiwan/strainer respectively? As mentioned above, I've heard 200, and that 150 is pretty small for a kyusu, but some sources say 250 is adequate for one person.

Another thing I would like to know is if a glass pot pot could be a better choice. I would personally prefer porcelain, but in many places it is mentioned that glass can esentially brew any tea while porcelain only "most". Is that true, and if so, which types could you really not prepare properly in porcelain?

Thank you!
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debunix
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Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:35 am

There is no one pot/gaiwan/shibo/houhin perfect for every tea. But nearly every pot/gaiwan/shibo/houhin can brew any tea with some precautions.

And trying to find the one true pot for all teas is mostly pointless. If your funds are limited and/or you're trying to save space and want the most versatile of pots, it's hard to go wrong with a glazed-inside porcelain pot with a flat filter with not-too-large holes.

If it is thin walled and doesn't retain heat so well for long infusions, you can keep it hot with pour-overs or a teaboat.

If it is thick walled and holds heat very well, you may want to infuse at slightly lower temps/shorter infusions to account for that when brewing sensitive teas.

A direct/single hole/filter-free pot is problematic with japanese teas because the leaf pieces are so small.

Whether you are happiest with a sasame/ceramesh filter or flat filter depends on your tolerance for tea fines in your cup; and any pot letting a few too many through can be helped with a fine-mesh stainless steel strainer.

As for size, well, that's really up to you: if you like to drink 1 liter over a session, that's 10 infusions with a 100mL pot, and if you like your tea strong, it may be hard to pack that little pot full enough and have it pour quickly enough. If you like to drink 500mL per session, and 5 infusions of medium strength tea, that little pot may be great.

I have a group of pots and gaiwans that I use for sencha and gyokuro that range from 60mL (really only for gyokuro because I want a larger volume per session of sencha), to 100 mL to 150 mL to 250 mL. Most mornings I want that 150 mL pot at least 4 infusions (infuse-and-go early days) but up to 7 on slow mornings when I can relax with my tea, and on those slow mornings, starting with that 60 mL pot is fine because I'll move on to a second tea before I'm finished at the tea table for the morning. And I have a lovely 60 mL pot that I use less often than some because I usually prefer to drink more at a time of the light oolongs I dedicate that pot to.

So....all this is to say don't sweat that first purchase too much. Pick something that should be especially good for those teas you currently drink most often (e.g., finest filter if you hate fines in your drink and love deep-steamed fukamushi sencha). It won't be perfect for everything, but it should be OK for everything. You'll almost certainly change your mind and preferences over time, but a versatile pot can still be useful later on.
Cifer
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Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:22 am

Thank you!

I am aware that there is no one ideal teaware for all times of tea, but I just wanted a minimalistic setup in addition to some specialized stuff I have. It's not about the cost, I am absolutely willing to spend more at some point. But right now I want to find out which types of tea I want to buy in the future and therefore want a "tea taster" type of vessel for several types of tea.

I've now settled on a 100 ml porcelain gaiwan, a 150 ml standard tea taster mug and a 200 ml porcelain teapot with a flat porcelain filter with fairly small holes.

What I would still like to know is how many ml per steep I'll get out of the 200 ml teapot with Japanese green tea. I know that I get about 60-80 ml per steep out of the 100 ml gaiwan with most oolong tea and about 120 ml out of many other teas with the 150 ml taster mug, and usually I end up with around 500-600 ml of tea if I drain the leaves in either teaware (150 for fewer bigger infusions and 100 for about 8 to 10 oolong infusions).

I would like to get roughly the same amount of tea draining the leaves of sencha, and I've read that most types make it to 5 infusions max, rather 3. I've also read that you should only fill the tea pot 2/3 of the volume when brewing sencha. Are both of these things true? And would a 200 ml pot give me roughly half a liter of tea from a somewhat decent sencha leaf if I fill it, or should I go 150 or 250 ml? I don't like leaving teaware half-empty when brewing so I'd like to get a site somewhat appropriate.
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debunix
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Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:11 am

Volume in vs volume out hugely depends on your leaf quantity and when you think the tea liquor is too dilute to be worth another infusions.

I put maybe 4 grams asamushi sencha in my 150 mL pot and add 120-150 mL water and get most of that water out. How many infusions it lasts depends on how much time I have before I have to run out the door in the morning, but nearly always at least 3 plus I fill it up one more time before I leave to have one cool long infusion for when I get home in the evening, or the next morning. Or I might go 7 or 8 infusions, the last just sweet water, because I am enjoying the morning news and teaforum has a lot of thought provoking post. I also might dilute my infusions if I overdid it a bit with the tea, or if the tea has a bit more of a bitter edge.

But I have shared wonderful sessions with other tea drinkers whose pots remain 40-60% full of wet leaf and who stop after fewer infusions. This is definitely a your-tea-mileage(milliliterage?)-may vary thing!
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