Banko-yaki vs Tokoname-yaki I

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:P1120377P1120385 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.

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Here is the first pair of teapots.

P1120325 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.

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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.

P1120329 The Banko-yaki teapot produces a full, smooth liquor with a sort of volume, even thickness, and it is very round in the mouth.

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.
P1120328Naturally, 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!

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Categories: Reviews

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4 replies

  1. Lovely and immensely readable post yet again. Does one use Banko-yaki or Tokoname-yaki 急須 for only one type of tea. For instance if you used a particular kyusu 急須 for sencha from Shizuoka then do you only use it for senchas from that particular region?

    • Thank you. There is no reason to use a kyusu only for one particular region tea. More, I would say there is no reason to use a kyusu only for one type of tea. Tokoname or Banko are baked at a very high temperature, and are very hard. If you wash it correctly after use, no problem.
      As Banko has the particularity of making a little decrease the astringency, it could interested to use it with strong astringency cultivar like Koshun or Inzatsu. But I was planning to speak about this point in another post.

  2. Oh great! So they are not like YIxing tea pots from China.
    I must get a few Banko and Tokoname kyusu in my next visit to Japan. Interesting what you have written about Banko reducing astringency. I wonder in this case if Banko can also be used for our Himalayan fully oxidised teas which always have higher levels of astringency. That experiment should be interesting.

    • Yes, they are different from the Yixing tea pots (some people also says the necessity of using one Yixing for one type of tea, is not so important, and is more a legend than a reality…. but i’m not enough specialist of this kind of teapots, so i don’t know where is the truth…. maybe somewhere in the middle).
      I use Banko-yaki for Wulong or Puerh, and it’s very good. Never try yet with a Black tea, but i will !

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