Tea Culture

What is a Kyusu? A Blog Post About of Japanese Tea Culture’s Most Important Tools

A kyusu is basically a Japanese tea pot. It is the quintessential Japanese piece of tea ware that is here to make our tea time a truly enjoyable experience. They come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. You can use a kyusu for a variety of different herbs and teas, but of course it does well brewing Japanese teas.

Materials Used

Kyusu can be made of different materials. Clay plays an important part in tea culture and history. If it is Yixing wares of the Jiangsu area or Jianshui wares from the Yunnan area, clay is used to make gaiwans, tea cups, tea bowls, and tea pots. While clay tea wares are important to Chinese tea culture, they are also important to Japanese tea culture. Many kyusu are made from a variety of different materials but Tokoname clay is probably the most well-known material used. It can give kyusu that classic brownish-orange color and can help to mellow out the bitterness and astringency of tea. Porcelain kyusu are also used. The nice thing about porcelain is that it can provide more of a neutral flavor what clay will alter the flavor of a tea ever so slightly.

Clay tea wares can be interesting to use also because the clay will start to develop a patina with repeated usage. The patina is a result of the oils of tea repeated being absorbed by the pours of the clay material. A layer begins to form where the tea repeated flows. Some tea people will pour their first rinse of tea on the pot itself and, over time, a patina will start to develop on the outside of the pot. Repeatedly using the pot, the inside will also develop a patina. The patina can be a measure of how long you have had the tea pot and reminds one of the passage of time and the use of the, as if the pot is growing with you.

The Strainer

When it comes to kyusu, the strainer/filter is probably one of the most important elements. The kyusu seen above has a removeable basket that you can use to brew tea and remove the leaves when you are done with them. Kyusu with baskets can be very convenient. The small holes of the basket as it lets us know that even very course teas such as fukamushi-sencha will have no problem brewing in this kyusu. Generally speaking, if a kyusu can brew fukamushi-sencha well, it can brew other leaf sizes especially well.

Some kyusu do not have a basket but they use, instead, a metal filter. This type of filter is removable but isn’t really designed to come in and out of the kyusu as easily as the basket. This would be the case with the kyusu seen below (also shown in the video above):

Kyusu with such a large filter like this are great for brewing fukamushi-sencha (also known as fukamushicha). With fukamushi-sencha you are not meant to catch all the leaves because the longer steaming time of this tea type results in coarser leaves. This means that, when brewing it, a lot of tiny leaf particulates falling through the filter into the cup. This is actually desired quality. When brewing fukamushi-sencha, it’s great if a kyusu can catch the bigger leaf particulates and allow the smaller ones to fall through. Not all kyusu have a metal filter, though. Many kyusu use the traditional ceramic filter.

The ceramic filter is perhaps the oldest variant of tea filtration. Tea nerds seem to really enjoy not just he aesthetic of the built-in tea filter but the more traditional nature of them. They also do not rust and make cleaning slightly easier as they are built into the kyusu.

Will you pick up a kyusu? There are a lot of different tea wares we can use to brew tea but a good kyusu can be nice to have in your tea tool kit. We hope this article has convinced you to invest in one! Follow our instagram and tiktok for more tea content and subscribe to our newsletter by entering your email address at the bottom of any page of our website.