The Kyusu (pronounced Kee ooo soo) is a Japanese teapot. The design is different from other types as the handle does not go over the top nor does it curl into a circle at the back. Instead, the handle is placed either on the back of the pot or on the side and has a very unusual shape. The word Kyusu means, quite simply, teapot in Japanese. This reflects the longevity of use for these pots in Japan. Most people favor green tea in the Kyusu.
Tea ceremonies became a tradition in Japan in the 17th century. People avoided metal pots for brewing green tea because the metal tainted the delicate flavor. Terra cotta pots replaced the metal, and they had the handle placed on the side.
Japan had six areas known for making pottery. Called the Six Old Kilns of Japan, these regions included Seto, Echizen, Tamba, Bizen, Shigaraki and Tokoname. Tokanome became a major Kyusu maker with their reddish orange clay. This clay had a high iron and ferric oxide content that even enhanced the flavor of green tea.
Handles on the Kyusu are hollow. They are thinner at the base near the pot, and large and open at the other end. The hollowness keeps the handles from being too hot to touch. The shape makes them easy to grasp and hold. Each Kyusu has one handle and one spout. Handles on some Kyusu connect at the back of the pot and lower than the lid – called ushirode kyusu. The most common handles connect at the side of the spout – called yokode kyusu.
Making tea in a Kyusu is simple. Boil water in a kettle and cool to the proper temperature. Most green teas brew at 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the proper amount of tea leaves in the bottom of the pot and pour in the water. Put the lid on and steep for the correct amount of time as per the instructions.
There is no need to strain the tea because there is a mesh strainer inside the kyusu. Merely take the handle in one hand and rotate to pour to the side to fill the cup. The handle makes it very easy with very little motion.
Clean up takes no time at all. Rinse the Kyusu with plain water making sure all tealeaves are gone. Do not use soap or abrasive pads to clean. Let it air dry and store in a safe place until it is time for more tea.
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