Basic Type of Japanese Teapot Kyusu. What is Houhin, Shiboridashi (Classified by Shape) 急須 宝瓶 絞り出し 日本茶壺 種類 

Hello! we are Shiha Tea & Comfort, Tokyo teapot shop. This is guide of Japanese handmade teapots and tips of how to select. Teapots are called “Kyusu” in Japanese . High-end Japanese teapots have a ceramic filter (strainer) inside. Lower price teapots have stainless/PP strainer mounted inside. We only carry teapots with ceramic strainer (the same material as body). They are art works. Please visit our online shop for shopping after reading!

Side Handle Teapot / 横手急須 (Yokote Kyusu)

Typical Japanese Teapot Style. A handle and a spout placed  slightly smaller than 90° angle. 

“Standard” (most common) size is 250-330 cc capacity. Compare to standard size of Chinese teapots, Japanese ones are bigger. You can brew any kind of tea like green tea, white tea, oolong tea, black tea, Pu-er tea, herb tea.

Shiha Tea & Comfort carry smaller size of Japanse teapots (130-230cc) as well.  I personally use small teapot often for brewing Chinese Tea and  brewing strong Japanese green tea.

I would say that red clay and purple clay teapots with no glazing are traditional, and most popular among Japanese people until recent years. I also use red clay teapot.

There are also porcelain (glazed) ,  ceramic (glazed), copper side-handle teapots. As long as I see most of handmade teapots in Japan are side-handled.

If you are left-handled, it may be difficult to use with this side handle teapot – it is designed to hold with right hand. But there are also ones for left-handled people, but very few.

No Handle Teapot with Filter/ 宝瓶 (Houhin)

No handle, with filter inside. This type is called Houhin in Japanese.  “Shiboridashi” in next section looks the same, but it doesn’t have a filter inside.

Houhin is usually small, 80-160 cc mainly. They are designed to brew Gyokuro and high grade green tea. It is to enjoy deep/concentrate tea with small amount, some times just a few drops. Those tea leaves require low water temperature 65-85 ℃ for infusion, sometimes much more lower. It means that teapot cannot be too hot to hold even without a handle.

Some Houhin has small holders like ears, if you hold well with your fingers on the holders, high temperature water can do as well, it means any kind of tea leaves can be brewed.

Nowadays, bigger size are also seen. Consider required temperature of tea leaves you brew and select. It is better you hold one that you are going to buy with your own hand imagining if it hot.  It is also important to check if it fits your hand. Some Houhin can be too large (diameter) to hold for your hand – In this case, it is difficult to hold and your hand get too tense and lose elegance of movement to brew.

Opening of Houhin is larger, you can watch and enjoy tea leaves in teapots – Houhin is for high grade tea leaves – you can also enjoy color, shape, softness, aroma of tea leaves before and after steeping.

Porcelain Houhin are seen more comparing to other type of teapots. Remember, heat conductivity of porcelain is higher – it is for Gyokuro with 50-65 ℃ ideally, otherwise put only less than half of water in it , in case your tea leaf require high water temperature.

Usually smaller cups are coordinated with Houhin. Gyokuro is tea that we only take small amount e.g. 15-20 cc a time.

No Handle Teapot without Filter/ 絞り出し(Shoboridashi)

No handle, without strainer inside. This type is called Shiboridashi in Japanese. This is also designed to brew Gyokuro and high grade green tea, which low temperature water is used for brewing.

Hand rolled tea leaves (Temomicha 手揉み茶 ) is long needle shape. Shiboridashi is often used to steep it. Large openings of the body is good for the long shape of tea leaves.

Houhin and Shinoridashi, we enjoy drops of green tea, usually less than 20cc for a person with small cups (see picture) –  It is Japanese traditional brewing.  However what tea to brew is up to you.

At season of fresh tea leaves, I visit tea farmers. They steep freshest tea using Shinoridashi for me. I enjoy watching tea leaves being prepared in it.  Image of Shiboridashi for me is : high grade tea leaves – beautiful tea leaves – tasting – little amount of tea – special brewing.

Shiboridashi is not seen(made) so much , it is special teapots even for Japanese. So that not many of Japanese people knows the name and how to use, unless they are tea lovers.

Back Handle Teapot / 後手急須 (Ushirode Kyusu)

In Japan, “handmade” back-handle teapots are relatively not produced so much, especially smaller one. Pictures above are all handmade.

Many of back-handled are bigger (250-400 cc) and often mold made. Those bigger teapots, we may not call “kyusu”, we call it “teapot (ティーポット)” if it doesn’t look traditional Japanese teapot shape.

Smaller (130-200 cc) handmade back-handled are usually to brew to enjoy essence of tea leaves , often selected by tea enthusiasts.  The “bigger teapot” is to brew tea for daily drink, such as  to quench thirst, to have it with meal or sweets.  

Small back-handled teapots make ordinary Japanese people imagine Chinese Tea. Bigger back-handle porcelain teapots are for black tea and herbal tea in many people’s mind. (Probably  people who were born before 1980). Actually you can brew any kind of tea with back-handled, of course. When selecting, hold it with imagining full water in it, make sure if your finger and hand should feel comfortable with the handle and weight. Bigger capacity can be too heavy/tense to hold in case handle is too small. The best is actually put full water and hold, if it is allowed.

Top Handle Teapot  /上手急須 (Uwate Kyusu)

Top handle teapots used to be seen widely some decades ago in Japan. Material of handle can be rattan, bamboo, metal, the same material as its body.

Large Top Handle  / 土瓶(Dobin)

Certain kind of top handle ones are called “Dobin”
Definition of Dobin is ;

  • Top handle
  • Large capacity (at least approx. more than 400ml usually, around 1000ml-2000ml)
  • Ceramic or porcelain.

Function(use) of Dobin is;

  1. To infuse tea (the same as teapot)  
  2. To make medical herb or Mugicha (barley tea) by boiling (put on stove)

Some of top handle teapots in above photos are called Dobin, customarily.

If someone tell me,  “I want to buy a Dobin”,
I have to ask ” to brew tea or to boil tea/herb?“.  You need to make it clear how you would like to use. To brew tea, teapot body should have a filter inside. Some Dobins don’t have filter in it. There is just a hole inside connected to spout. You need to make sure the followings, to use properly.

  • if there is a filter inside
  • if it can put on a stove (if material is fireproof or not)

If clay of Dobin is not fireproof, it will crack or be broken when put over fire. Please be careful.

  • Those are made of fireproof clay/material.
  • There is no filter in the body, usually, there is a hole connected to spout. But some of them have filter (see photo below)
  • Some are glazed on the surface but bottom of the body are not glazed to get heat from stove. (see photo below)

About Kettle / Yuwakasih (湯沸かし)

The following tea wares are not to brew tea. They are to boil water. They are called “Yuwakashi” , it literally means “water boil”, it is actually kettles used in ceremonial tea time. Those are not used for daily life.

The ones which are ceramic and porcelain also called bofura (ボーフラ) in Japanese. Charcoal is used to boil water formally, however due to a restriction of indoor fire usage at public places, especially at tea-ceremony room, electric stove is used instead. Electric is easier to control time of boiling water (Official tea ceremony is usually conducted upon fixed time schedule)

Feel Free to Contact Us!

We help you to select teapots that suits to your tea life. Please feel free to contact us! We also love tea and drink everyday. We love many kinds of tea, such as Japanese tea, Chinese tea, black tea, herbal tea. You can brew any kind of tea with Japanese teapots.

Basic of Japanese Teapots

Please also read the follwing blog to know more about Japanese teapots.

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