Teas of Japan is offering a few Banko-yaki teapots, including three hand-turned teapots: one by Iroku, one by Jitsuzan, and one by Masaki.
Here they are: Banko-yaki pottery dates back to the Genbun Era (1736-40), with the establishment of a kiln at Obuke not far from the city of Yokkaichi, which is today the centre of this craft.
This is the perfect opportunity to have fun comparing them with three teapots by Tokoname-yaki artisans: one by Shôryû, one by Yûsen, and one by Setsudô. Like the Banko ware, all three Tokoname ware teapots have also been hand turned.
Here is the first pair of teapots.
On the right, a Tokoname-yaki teapot made from red clay by the famous Setsudô, which I have described before.
Its effect on teas is superb, and I especially like the unsmoothed surface, the asymmetrical lines that mark it.
On the left, new on Teas of Japan, is a Banko-yaki teapot by Itô Jitsuzan 伊藤実山.
The reason I have chosen to compare it with the teapot by Setsudô is simply because of their strange similarity. The body of the Jitsuzan teapot is also unsmoothed, and the fine striations that run around it make it extremely pleasant to the touch.
My mountain sencha from Okawa (Hon.yama) is the tea I have chosen for this very friendly “brew off.” It is a robust, country-style mountain tea.
5 g (1.5 tsp) of leaves, water right up to the lip of my samashi‘s spout (to make sure, without measuring, that the same quantity of water was used each time – about 70-80ml (approximately 1/4 cup)). The water came from the nearest thermos, and was a little over 80°C (176°F). No need to cool it more with this kind of tea, and anyway the comparison will simply be more revealing with slightly warmer water.
With the Tokoname-yaki, we get something more subtle. The flavours detach from one another and seem to make you taste them one by one.
Naturally, the fragrances are fundamentally the same. Rather than saying that the flavours are transformed by the teapot, it would be more accurate to say that the different teapots change their effects, the way they are experienced.
Second infusion for 10 seconds.
The “virtues” of Banko become clearer.
While the Tokoname allows a pleasant little touch of astringency to come out, with the Banko the liquor remains perfectly mellow, but also lighter, with perhaps less impact. The infusion would be improved by 5-10 seconds more in the case of the pot by Jitsuzan.
Honestly, I cannot say which is best, only that the outcome is different. The qualities of each can also be seen as defects depending on what one is looking for.
See you soon with the second brew off!