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Selecting teapot and lens has something in common

[2013.10.04] Posted By

Nosaka Reduction Fired

It is often mentioned that a clay teapot creates a mellower taste in a tea. However, the description of “mellow” somehow is not specific enough to describe the taste. In fact, a clay teapot will modify either body or aftertaste, and sometimes both; but some poor quality clay reduces both aftertaste and body. It is essential for us to understand the contribution of each clay to the characteristic in taste where the effect is related to existence of minerals in the clay. In addition, the firing method using either oxidation or reduction fire affects the body and the after taste of tea as well.

Iron increases the aftertaste, while calcium increases the body

Out of various minerals that exist in a clay teapot, iron plays an important role in enhancing the aftertaste, whereas the alkaline minerals such as calcium are in-charge of enhancing the body. For instance, in one of our lineups, the Nosaka clay, contains less alkaline mineral but is very rich in iron; therefore, it weighs more on the aftertaste. On the contrary, Shigaraki and Kobiwako clay are very rich in alkaline minerals, which will in then contribute more on the body. Despite that, the Kobiwako clay contains both high iron content and alkaline minerals and thus, contributing to the enhancement in both body and aftertaste of tea.

Reduction fire clay increases the aftertaste, while the oxidation fire clay increases the body

Generally, the reduction fired clay increases the after taste and decreases the body, while the oxidation fired clay increases the body and lessens the aftertaste more than reduction fired clay. These are the results shown when a comparison was conducted based on the clays in exactly the same condition.

Nosaka Oxidation Fired

The body and after taste changes the drinking feeling of tea

If tea has strong after taste with less body, it promotes the image as transparent, clear, sharp and pure. With body, we feel thickness, richness, volume, boldness and side spreading feeling. For enjoying semi-fermented tea such as oolong tea and some black tea, the body is quite important. If the tea lacks body, you would feel that the flavor is mild. I personally enjoy drinking Darjeeling tea using a teapot that increases the body. However, it is also subjective to a person’s preference; some customers would prefer a teapot that only increases the after taste even if the flavor is not very strong.

Selecting teapot is just like the way we select lens for a camera

My customers often inquire my opinion to define the best clay or which clay I favor the most. Frankly speaking, it is not easy to answer those questions as it is not possible to set superiority on the different types of clay. Selecting tea wares are quite like the way we select lens for a DSLR camera. The lens for a DSLR camera consists of wide angle, standard, long distance and zooms. In my opinion, I consider zoom lens the friendliest lens for casual or outdoor photo shooting. However, zoom lens may not satisfy everyone’s perspective. Some people who love cameras, me included, may love the single focal lens of wide angle and telescope. These lenses are meant for special purposes especially when you need the typical character of the particular lens.

Kobiwako Hohin

I believe it is the same when it comes to tea equipment. For daily or casual use, a teapot made of bone china or Shigaraki clay does the job as it gives reasonable extent of body and after taste. Not mentioning, we also enjoy a teapot that gives outstanding levels of after taste or body. It will noticeably alter the character of tea, plus, it is very enjoyable to use these clays as it makes the taste and flavor very distinct. I choose a specific type of clay based on the time, place and occasion. For instance, early on a cozy morning, I would love to indulge in a clear, transparent and smooth cup of tea. For that, I will choose a clay teapot that gives strong aftertaste and less body such as the Nosaka reduction clay teapot. In the afternoon, I will choose another clay teapot that increases the body so that I can fully enjoy the upcoming flavor of the tea. Thus, a Mumyoi oxidation clay or Kobiwako oxidation clay is what I will go for.

teapot and lens
Having a few types of clay with different effects to the taste of tea, we are able to enjoy a wide variety of cup characteristics with flavor and taste in a same cup of tea. It is just like using various lenses on a same camera. This way, tea drinking experience would become much more interesting when we could design different combinations between tea and clay based on different requirements or drinking occasions.

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