Hokujo, Kobiwako & Iga Clay

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debunix
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Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:37 pm

It's always lovely when you find a purpose for which a particular vessel really shines. I'm back to my first really successful forays with gyokuro, enjoying some Yame gyokuro from O-Cha in a tiny Shawn McGuire/Great Wheel Studios shiboridashi...it's fully glazed, so it's all about small vessel full of leaves and lots of sipping pleasure from a quite small quantity of leaf.
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nasalfrog
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Fri Nov 29, 2019 2:24 pm

Bok wrote:
Fri Nov 29, 2019 8:42 am
Update and shout out to Hokujo:

...Glad my Hokujo has found a new purpose in my collection :)
Nice! I will have to try it with some gyo in the future.

My Kohokujo has recently found a purpose outside of fukamushi. I opened a bag of O-Cha’s organic kabusecha a couple weeks ago and have found so far I like it better in the Kohokujo pot. Results have been best with this year’s and previous years with a high leaf/water ratio (using 6.5g/60-70ml). It becomes quite unbalanced after the first brew in the Kobiwako and especially in the Iga pot.

This flowery kamairi-style oolong that I thought was a kamairicha is superior in the Kohokujo as well, so I still haven’t found a good match for the Iga yet.

There are a bunch of roasted & unroasted samples from Taiwan Tea Crafts coming my way soon that I’m looking forward to trying out.
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Bok
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Mon Mar 09, 2020 12:28 am

Browsing Inge Nielsons pottery, I saw this teapot:
– Which to me looks almost identical to Hokujos clay! Further browsing seems to indicate it to be Wallonian(German influenced part of Belgium), iron-rich clay. Interesting.

Has been a while since I last checked on her works, she's made quite some progress, compared to her earlier pieces, nice!
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S_B
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:34 pm

This is a bit late into the forum, but I'm curious what experience folks have with Japanese clays such as Hokujo, Kobiwako, and Iga in regards to more heavily roasted and heavily oxidized oolongs. I am interested in breaking off from the Yixing train for a bit and want to try some Japanese clay with my Oolongs and other teas. Mainly thinking of heavy roast Foshou, Heavier roasted DD, Hongshuis, etc. Really tempted to start with Kobiwako, since Hojo mentions it seems like it could work for most teas. Curious what other opinions here might be. I know Victoria loves Hokujo for her roasted Oolongs, but I'd love to hear more! I'm completely new when it comes to Japanese clay.

Though I will say I am 100% a sucker for the aesthetics of Kobiwako...which is really driving my choice here. I know forcing teaware is bad but..boy is that clay pretty. Cheers! :D
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Bok
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:54 pm

It is indeed, I wanna take a bite each time I look at it, resembles a cookie so much!

I haven’t tried with roasted, but you should try it a couple of times and see how it goes, you can always reset the pot of you don’t like it.

One thing to take into account, light coloured clay might take on an unseemly patina with darker teas over time... but then, that as well can be cleaned.
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S_B
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:46 pm

Bok wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:54 pm
It is indeed, I wanna take a bite each time I look at it, resembles a cookie so much!

I haven’t tried with roasted, but you should try it a couple of times and see how it goes, you can always reset the pot of you don’t like it.

One thing to take into account, light coloured clay might take on an unseemly patina with darker teas over time... but then, that as well can be cleaned.
Very good point on the patina. Based on your experience with the clay do you think it would play nicely at least?

I've seen a bit of back and forth on how absorbing the clay is. But for the most part, it seems like the general consensus is that it adds body and doesn't seem to shave off high notes. All of that sounds consistent with what I'd hope to get out of properly roasted teas....so it is tempting. Will report back should this become something I try.
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Bok
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:04 pm

S_B wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:46 pm
Very good point on the patina. Based on your experience with the clay do you think it would play nicely at least?

I've seen a bit of back and forth on how absorbing the clay is. But for the most part, it seems like the general consensus is that it adds body and doesn't seem to shave off high notes. All of that sounds consistent with what I'd hope to get out of properly roasted teas....so it is tempting. Will report back should this become something I try.
I was too blown away from the response with Gaoshan that I did not go further. For me what I want from a Gaoshan/Green/Sencha etc is different than to a roasted tea. In the past what has worked for those, did not for the others. So I am inclined to think it would not yield a result I would like. The other clay giving me very similar results to the Kobiwako has been an antique Duanni, which has not done so well with roasted teas.

Best just to try and see if it fits your palate.
faj
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:14 pm

S_B wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:46 pm
One thing to take into account, light coloured clay might take on an unseemly patina with darker teas over time... but then, that as well can be cleaned.
I have a Kobiwako teapot, and I will say Japanese green teas leave brownish stains in the areas where water comes near but does not touch. It is like something that evaporates from the tea and then deposits, not the liquid itself staining. I must say I always rinse my pots with very hot water after each use, maybe that slows down staining in other areas. In any case I would expect all teas to visibly stain Kobiwako.

It did clean up completely the time I put the pot in a percarbonate bath, and I did not have to scrub at all, but it was not very heavily stained.

I have used it mostly with Japanese greens, but gaoshan too a few times. I am not an expert in any way, this is among the first pots I purchased and that was a few months ago only. The only thing I can say for sure from my experience is that even though its effect is obvious, easily recognizable, and very different from the other pots I have, it is actually hard to predict on which tea it clicks and on which tea it does not without trying. I am not able to broadly state "it works well with category X".
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S_B
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:20 pm

The only thing I can say for sure from my experience is that even though its effect is obvious, easily recognizable, and very different from the other pots I have, it is actually hard to predict on which tea it clicks and on which tea it does not without trying. I am not able to broadly state "it works well with category X".
Interesting. Thank you for the response. Sounds like the only way to know for sure is to try! I guess the only hesitation for me is that I rarely drink greens or gaoshan, so I'd have to really look through teas to find out what works well with it should more roasted oolongs not turn out so hot.
faj
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Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:32 pm

Bok wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:04 pm
I've seen a bit of back and forth on how absorbing the clay is. But for the most part, it seems like the general consensus is that it adds body and doesn't seem to shave off high notes.
I am basically new to the clay game, and I find it increasingly difficult to think in terms of the terms often used. Akira Hojo describes pots as if their impact can be expressed with two scalars along two independent axes, "body" and "aftertaste", but that does not capture everything. I feel it misses something fundamental. If you take a tea with little body and infuse it in Kobiwako, you will not get the same thing as an (imaginary) identical tea with more body in a neutral vessel. To me, that clay has a personality, a signature, and I find it is very recognizable (sometimes good, sometimes not). One thing that I find accurate, though, is that it makes tea feel sweeter (sometimes good, sometimes not).

Please take everything I say with a grain of salt, though, I do not have a wide experience, so part of all this is the fun of exploring.
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OCTO
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:19 am

faj wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:32 pm
Bok wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:04 pm
I've seen a bit of back and forth on how absorbing the clay is. But for the most part, it seems like the general consensus is that it adds body and doesn't seem to shave off high notes.
If you take a tea with little body and infuse it in Kobiwako, you will not get the same thing as an (imaginary) identical tea with more body in a neutral vessel. To me, that clay has a personality, a signature, and I find it is very recognizable (sometimes good, sometimes not). One thing that I find accurate, though, is that it makes tea feel sweeter (sometimes good, sometimes not).
@faj

How long have u been using the Kobiwako pot?
faj
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:15 pm

OCTO wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:19 am
How long have u been using the Kobiwako pot?
Not very long... About four months. Why?
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S_B
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Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:08 pm

I wanted to add to the thread something I was experimenting with just today in Kobiwako. I can't say that this works across the board, but my recent experience is as follows:

With my sencha, I'll admit I usually only go for 3 steeps. I can often squeeze out 4, but I often really find myself less keen on the 3rd and 4th steeps (if a tea even makes it to 4 for me). Let the sencha gods forgive me!

I haven't been using my kobiwako as much in the past month or two, so yesterday I felt the need to pull it out to brew some tea. It seems like with Kobiwako clay, with the 3 sencha I've tried so far, the late steeps have been much fresher, smoother, and kept a kinder fragrance. I'll use my session from just a few minutes ago as my example, as it is freshest in my mind. I had some asamushi sae midori from O-cha - a tea that is quite pleasant in my book. While it isn't universe dew, it also isn't just "green tea." Normally, in some other tokoname and mumyoi that I have tasted it in, the later steeps creepingly become more astringent and feel like shadows of the 1st and 2nd steep. I love sencha, but I have always found myself chasing that 1st steep, and not giving later steeps the attention they deserve.

With the kobiwako, the first steep was fresh, grassy, and juicy with a great level of umami as I've come to expect from this tea, but the later steeps really impressed me. They remained smooth and had nice cucumbery fragrance, remaining similarly fresh to earlier steeps. I don't know if anybody else has similar experiences, but it has convinced me to go back through and keep using this kobiwako on all my sencha to see what other secrets I've been missing!
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