In this article, I’m going to introduce you to some of the many stoneware, one of the materials used in tea ware.
What is Stoneware?
The raw material of stoneware is stone, which is formed by mixing clay with powder made by crushing rocks.
Stoneware is located between pottery and porcelain. It is strong and water resistant and is sometimes called “semi-porcelain”.
Compared to ceramics, stoneware is not very familiar, but it is one of the famous ceramics in Japan.
Stoneware contains a lot of iron, which reacts with tannin, the astringency component of the tea, to mellow the taste of the tea.
The small holes on the surface of stoneware adsorb the extra components of tea leaves, making it a delicious tea with a clean taste.
For this reason, it has long been favored by tea masters who believe that tea served in stoneware would taste better.
Let me introduce you to famous Japanese stoneware.
Tokoname ware is a pottery made in Tokoname City and its surrounding area facing Ise Bay on the west coast of Chita Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture, and is one of the “Six Ancient Kilns in Japan”.
Tokoname ware is a vermilion pottery. The vermilion color of Tokoname ware comes from the use of vermilion clay, which contains a lot of iron oxide.
There was a time when it was called “Akamono (red ceramic)” because of its color.
The “teapot” is synonymous with Tokoname ware. Tokoname teapot boasts the largest market share in Japan and is designated as an Intangible Cultural Property of Japan.
It has been said that tea brewed with Tokoname teapot is delicious since the old days.
In addition to the stoneware features, Tokoname teapot combines a pot with a tea strainer, which uses a delicate ceramic strainer instead of a metal one prevents metallic taste from being mixed in with the original taste of tea.
If you are a tea lover, this is a must-have item.
Echizen ware is a pottery made in and around Echizen Town in the western Reihoku area of Fukui Prefecture, and is one of the Six Ancient Kilns in Japan along with Bizen ware, Tokoname ware, Seto ware, Tanba ware and Shigaraki ware.
Echizen ware has a history of 850 years, and more than 200 kiln sites have been discovered to date.
It has long been used by the common people as a simple daily necessity.
Echizen ware is characterized by its durability.
Echizen ware contains a lot of iron in the raw material, so it has excellent heat resistance. By baking it at a high temperature all at once, we can make a strong pottery that is hard to break.
Because of its durability, it has been used in pots, motors, crocks, and storage pots.
Shigaraki ware is a pottery made in and around Shigaraki Town, Shiga Prefecture, and is one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan like Echizen ware.
It has a long history, and the origin of Shigaraki ware is said to be the roof tiles fired by Emperor Shomu when he built the capital, Shigaraki Palace in the Nara period (710-794).
Although the image of Shigaraki ware is often associated with raccoon dog figurines, it is also famous for its tea ware.
The shape and color of Shigaraki ware changes depending on the temperature and the condition of the clay, so it has been loved by tea masters since old days as there are no two of the same in the world.
In this article, I’m going to introduces porcelain, one of the materials used in tea ware.
What is porcelain?
Porcelain is a white, translucent pottery with a fine surface texture and a smooth touch.
Since it contains a lot of glassy substances, it can be a little transparent when it is exposed to light.
Feldspar and quartzite, which are often contained in the clay, that is the raw material of porcelain, crystallize and become very hard when fired at high temperature.
For this reason, porcelain can be made stronger, thinner and lighter than pottery. It is a characteristic of porcelain.
Porcelain is not water absorbent and has a smooth surface, which prevents the aroma and ingredients of tea from being absorbed by the tea ware, allowing the original flavor and fragrance of the tea leaves to be brewed.
It is recommended especially for beginners as a tea bowl which is easy to take care of and brew a delicious cup of tea without any tips.
Let me introduce you to famous Japanese porcelain.
Arita ware is a pottery produced around Arita Town in Saga Prefecture.
It was made for the first time in Japan 400 years ago. It is said that Arita ware have influenced the world-famous brand “Meissen”.
Arita ware is transparent white porcelain with vivid patterns in various colors. Especially in Europe, Arita ware has been popular since old days under the name of “IMARI”.
Porcelain is basically made by mixing several types of earth, but Arita ware is made from only one type of porcelain clay. It is very rare porcelain in the world, and transparent white porcelain is praised as “white gold” and is highly appreciated around the world.
Kutani ware is produced in Kanazawa, Kaga, Mino, and Komatsu in Ishikawa Prefecture, and they make pottery as well as porcelain.
It is an authentic pottery that the Imperial Household Agency uses as a gift for celebrities and the royal families overseas, and it was also presented to Charles, Prince of Wales as a wedding gift.
Kutani ware is so famous that it is called “There is no Kutani ware without telling the overglaze painting” and is one of the representative colored ceramics of Japan, and is also famous for its gorgeous tea ware.
The overglaze painting is a technique in which a picture is painted with pigments after final firing and then re-baked at a high temperature of about 800℃, creating a unique and distinctive pattern on the work.
Kutani ware’s overglaze painting is called “Go-saite (five-color glaze)” because the colors of “red, yellow, purple, green, dark blue” are used to decorate the pottery and its gorgeous and bold coloring and decorations are unforgettable once you see it.
Hasami ware is made in and around Hasami Town in Nagasaki prefecture.
Although the word “pottery” may conjure up images of high-class, but Hasami ware is used to make tableware for daily use by the common people. In addition, about 20% of Japanese tableware is Hasami ware.
There is no specific technique for Hasami ware and since various artists are flexibly making pottery in the shapes and designs demanded by the times, there is a wide variety of designs and sizes.
Because of its stylish appearance and the fact that it can be easily purchased not only at specialty shops but also at tableware shops and general stores, it has recently become popular with the younger generation, who were not originally interested in pottery.
Many tea wares have been made in Japan since old days, and their materials are various.
In this article, I’m going to introduce “pottery” which is one of the most popular materials.
What is pottery?
Pottery has left many masterpieces in the long history of tea wares.
It is a “earthenware” made of clay, it is a simple and dignified looking ceramic.
Pottery is fired at a lower temperature of 900 to 1200℃ compared to porcelain, it is made thicker so that it is more brittle and less likely to break than porcelain baked at a high temperature.
The thicker container prevents heat conduction, so that the brewed tea does not get cold easily. It is suitable for tea bowls because the heat of bowl is not easily felt by the person holding it.
In addition, it is easy to get color and dirt because of its water absorbency, and it takes more time to maintain compared to other tea wares.
However, many tea masters love to use it because of the way its color and other characteristics change every time they use it.
Let me introduce you to famous Japanese pottery.
Mashiko ware is a pottery made in Mashiko Town, Tochigi Prefecture and is designated as a Traditional Craft of Japan.
The Mashiko Pottery Fair has been held since 1966 and about 600,000 people come to the fair every year.
The porcelain clay used for Mashiko ware is not suitable for fine works and requires a thicker texture, so it is characterized by its plump and cute appearance.
In addition, it has a rustic look and feel due to its high sandiness.
Mashiko ware had faced many crises in its existence since its birth in the Edo period, but in the Taisho period (1912-1926) with the Folk Art Movement, it became Japan's representative pottery.
Nowadays, there are as many as 250 pottery producers in Japan, and many of them are creating pottery of their own design.
Hagi ware is mainly produced in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Hagi ware, which has developed as tea pottery, has long been praised a “No.1 is Raku ware, No.2 is Hagi ware and No.3 is Karatsu ware”.
This is a term expressing the taste of the tea master or rating of tea bowls, and it shows that Hagi ware has been highly valued since old days.
Most of them are simple and make use of the material itself, with little or no coloring or decoration.
Due to the influence of the porcelain clay used in the pottery and the production process, Hagi ware is characterized by numerous fine cracks called “Kannyu”.
Over the years, ingredients such as tea gradually permeate into the tea bowl, changing the color of the tea bowl, and this phenomenon is called “Cha-nare (harmonizing with tea)” or “Hagi-no-Nanabake (Hagi’s changing)” among tea masters, and it is valued as a tea bowl whose expression changes depending on who uses it.
In addition, there are more than 100 pottery producers of Hagi ware, but most of them are small and active as artists, so there are many one-of-a-kind works, which is a feature of Hagi ware.
Seto ware is a pottery made in Seto City, Aichi Prefecture, and not only pottery but also porcelain is made.
In Japan, the word “setomono” is used to describe all ceramics, and it comes from Seto ware.
This is the pottery that had such a big impact on the Japanese ceramic art world.
Seto ware is one of the “Three Major Japanese Pottery" and the “Six Ancient Kilns in Japan”, and has produced many masterpieces of ceramic ware, especially in the area of tea ceremony utensils.
In addition, Seto has produced a wide variety of pottery using its abundant raw materials such as high-quality clay and pottery stone.
Tea wares are made of a variety of materials which affect the taste of tea.
In this article, I‘m going to introduce the materials used in tea wares.
Types of materials
When it comes to ceramics, “pottery” and “porcelain” are famous, but surprisingly there are various materials that can be used.
Porcelain is white, translucent, finely textured, and has a smooth touch.
Feldspar and silica, which are often found in the clay used to make porcelain, have the property of crystallizing and hardening when fired at high temperatures.
This makes it possible to make thin and light ceramics while maintaining its strength compared to pottery.
In addition, since it does not absorb water, it is hard to get color and stain, and it is often used for daily tableware.
Typical examples of porcelain include Arita ware and Kutani ware, and Meissen is a famous foreign brand.
Pottery is a “earthenware” made from porcelain clay, and it is often seen in a tea ceremony.
Since pottery is fired at a low temperature, the components contained in the raw materials have a weak connection and pottery are more fragile than porcelain.
For that reason, it is made thick so that it does not break easily.
The thicker container prevents heat conduction, so that the brewed tea does not get cold easily, and you can enjoy it deliciously for a long time.
In the long history of tea, pottery has produced many masterpieces of tea wares.
Mashiko ware and Hagi ware are famous.
Stoneware is made of stone. It is a ceramic which is formed by mixing clay and powder made by crushing rocks, and it is located between pottery and porcelain.
When you hit it, it makes a high sound similar to porcelain, but it doesn't have water absorbency or translucency like pottery.
Stoneware is rather more pottery in appearance and has a simple and serene atmosphere unique to Japan.
Stoneware is not as well-known as pottery and porcelain, but there is a wide range of ceramics made from Stoneware, including Echizen ware, which is characterized by the natural glaze produced by melting wood ashes, Shigaraki ware, which is famous for its raccoon dog figurines, and Tokoname ware, which has the largest share of teapot in Japan.
Heat-resistant glass is used in tea wares made of minerals such as silica sand, borax, boric acid.
Glass tea wares have a wide range of uses, and they are useful for brewing not only green tea but also black tea and Chinese tea.
In particular, when brewing flower tea, a kind of Chinese tea, you can enjoy the tea time before you drink it as you can enjoy the elegantly swaying tea leaves that gradually open in the hot water.
Glass tea wares are easy to maintain and handle, so even beginners can use them without worries.
Although most tea ceremony bowls have a strong image of ceramics, during the summer, you can often find beautiful glass teacups that are handcrafted one by one by.
Common materials of metal include iron, stainless steel, copper, and aluminum.
It is used as a kettle to boil water for tea or a tea strainer to make tea, but the most commonly used material for tea wares is copper.
Since copper has moisture regulating properties, tea leaves in a copper tea caddy keep their flavor longer.
Differences in taste due to materials
Tea is a delicate drink, so the taste changes depending on the materials.
Porcelain and glass do not absorb water, so the aroma and ingredients are hard to absorb, allowing the flavor and aroma of the tea to be served straight away.
On the other hand, pottery is highly absorbent, so the tea wares absorb excess components and astringency, and produce a clean mild taste.
Stoneware, which has both porcelain and pottery properties, absorbs tannins, which gives it a mild taste with less astringency.
Copper, with its copper ions, decomposes the impurities in tap water and makes the water taste mellow.
In addition, copper's excellent thermal conductivity expedites the flow of tea, making tea with less astringency and more sweetness and aroma.