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A conversation about our Shigaraki tea set with the designer.

Posted by Tyas Sōsen on

Introduction

When I visited the Shigaraki potter Hozan, I encountered this beautifully designed shiboridashi teapot. As I learned more of its background, I discovered that the designer didn’t only create this one Kyusu, but in fact created a whole series of tea ware with the focus on casual, everyday use.

The teapot appealed to me as a versatile tea brewer of the perfect size to enjoy a daily cup of tea for yourself. It also washes out easily thanks to its wide mouth, and when carried in its designated bag, it allows you to — without taking too much space — enjoy tea wherever you go. But, besides my appreciation for the piece, I wanted to know the intentions of the designer, and his drive to create this item, so I asked him about his story, which I am happy to share with you below.

 

- Why did you want to design tea ware?

Shigaraki teaware

The idea for this tea ware has its roots in a conversation I had with my family one evening at the dinner table.
We came to the conclusion that although we occasionally enjoy having tea, we often found it difficult to choose a suitable teapot. We wanted to enjoy tea more casually, and always wanted to find a teapot that was universally versatile. In other words, we were looking for a teapot that could brew the variety of tea, sencha, hojicha, black tea, herb tea, etc., we wanted to drink.

 

- What are some of the specific traits of this tea ware that are important to you?

Shigaraki teaware black tea

We feel that metal strainers can be unhygienic, especially with built-in ones that are difficult to clean. I also feel that the metal somehow affects the taste of the tea in an averse way. In other words, as tea strainers can be disfunctional, and tea bags don’t allow the leaf to unfold to its fullest potential, we were determined to find a better type of tea pot.

 

- When did you decide that a shiboridashi type of tea pot was a good choice?

Shigaraki teaware set

When I visited the Shigaraki pottery region for another project, I encountered this very simple type of tea pot for the first time. I witnessed how the craftsmen used them to casually enjoy tea during their breaks. This encounter changed the way I saw tea, and the vast preconceptions I had of what tea should be, and made me determined to create an easy-to-use tea pot that is suitable for regular tea consumption.

The shiboridashi was originally devised for the preparation of high-grade teas such as gyokuro, but I learned that, as long as the leaf is suitable to the teapot, this tea ware can be used to brew a greater variety of tea, in a more casual way.

 

- What do you enjoy most about this tea pot?

Shigaraki teaware set pouch

What I like about it most, is how the liquid gently flows out of the mouth when you slightly tilt the vessel.

The grooves in the mouth-opening are narrow enough to suppress most tea leaf, but it may be less suitable for fukamushicha or very soft shincha, which, due to its small particles may clog the exits. When the leaf gets into the grooves and hinders the outflow, I recommend to try adjusting the position of the lid, or to look for other ways to make the tea flow. I believe that this is a hard needed lesson of creativity and self-sufficiency for today's people who have gotten too used to convenience.


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