If you’re a lover of tea, then you might have heard of the term “kyusu” which means “teapot” in Japanese. The Takoname Yaki (常滑焼) is both a remarkable and historic teapot which dates back to the 12th century. Because of the way the teapot is made, it gives the tea a distinguishable flavor, making it well-liked amongst green tea enthusiasts.
Tokoname is a city (常滑市) located in central Japan (on the coast of the Chita Peninsula) and is known to contain Japan’s oldest and largest kiln.
Location of Tokoname City
At one point, it was estimated that there were as many as 3,000 kilns in Tokoname; the five other ancient kilns were known as Shigaraki, Tanba, Seto, Echizen, and Bizen.
Picture of Tokoname City with Wall of Clay
The pottery made in Tokoname is created with an unmatched craftsmanship and artistry. The very first teapot created was by Inaba Takamichi (稲葉尊通) and was made with white or rough clay.
Image of Inaba Takamichi (稲葉尊通) who created the first clay pot
The creator of the first red clay teapot, Sugie Jyumon, worked with a doctor named Hirano Chuji, and eventually launched the Red Clay Tokoname Teapot.
With its notable capabilities, the Red Clay Tokoname Teapot received recognition for its ability to withhold water without the use of a glaze on the pot.
Red Clay of Tokonome Teapot without glaze inside
The hand-crafted works of art of the Tokoname Yaki are carried on through future generations of potters who keep the tradition alive.
Today, potters who create ceramics now incorporate different types of clays to create truly exceptional works of art.
Although there are many kinds of Japanese ceramics to choose from, the Tokoname Yaki stands out from the rest because of the distinct artistry and craftsmanship that goes into making it.
Tokoname Yaki is well-known for making various types of products ranging from teapots to bonsai vases.
Tokoname Yaki Flower Base
Tokoname Yaki Pottery used to store food (tsubo)
Although the Tokoname Yaki is known for many types of sculptured pottery, it is renowned for its noteworthy teapots.
The reason why the Tokoname Yaki teapot is so favorable amongst tea enthusiasts is because of the way it sweetens the flavor of the tea, giving it more a pleasant and smooth taste.
Because clay is the material that is used to make the teapot, it is recognized to intensify the umami of the tea.
This is because the clay used to make the teapot is infused with iron-rich minerals which contributes to the overall taste of the green tea. More specifically, this teapot separates the flavors individually and allows the drinker to taste each distinct note of the tea.
Iron-rich mineral in teapot intensify the umami of tea
There is a reaction that occurs with the tea and minerals in the clay that minimizes the harshness of the tea, and instead emphasizes the tea’s unique flavor.
Because of the teapot’s porous surface, it allows the fragrance of the tea to be integrated.
Tokoname Yaki pottery is known to have a combination of iron-infused clays and the pots are usually finished with an unglazed surface. In the instance of a Tokoname teapot, the porous surface of the pot allows the drink to be absorbed in the pores giving the tea a unique flavor.
iron-infused clays give the tea a unique flavor
The Tokoname Yaki’s surface is usually not glossed, has a built-in strainer, and an easy-to-grip handle.
The built-in strainer allows you to steep the leaves without getting any of the tea leaves in your drink while allowing you to skip the hassle of brewing.
The design of the Tokoname Yaki Teapot stands out from others with its detailed features standing out in its handle, spout, and lid.
Although you can steep different kinds of teas with the Tokoname Yaki Teapot, the best and most known tea to pair it with is green tea (including Sencha). Because of its design, this teapot is an extraordinary take on the cliché, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout”.
The Tokoname Yaki Teapot’s ability to bring out the richness in the flavor of the tea is intriguing and is definitely something worth trying.
This article was originally published on T-Ching where my article is featured.
Here are some of Tokonameyaki you can purchase online from Amazon. I do get a small commission if you purchase from the link below.
The world of Japanese Green Tea is wide and wonderful, but it is sometimes confusing with all the terms used.
There are more than 100 total types of Japanese green tea names being used today. Names can refer to not the only type of tea, but they can also indicate which part of the tea plant is used, what kind of processing method was used, the name of the location where tea is farmed, etc.
Confused? This article explains more than 30 different types of Japanese tea. Bookmark this for your reference!