13, October 2022
Guide for Brewing Premium Japanese Tea with a Houhin Teapot
A teapot created to brew only the finest of Japanese tea leaves.
The "houhin" is a teapot uniquely made for this purpose.
Read some interesting facts about the houhin and learn how to brew a perfect cup of high-quality green tea with an authentic handcrafted houhin.
- What is a Houhin?
- The Houhin Tea Set
- How to Brew Premium Quality Japanese Tea with a Houhin
- About Gyokuro Tea Leaves
- Japanese Style Hospitality
- Recommended Tea Items for High-Quality Tea
What is a Houhin?
A houhin is very unique in that it's a teapot without a handle.
The concept of the houhin is said to have come from the "gaiwan" teacup used in China. A "gaiwan" is a teacup used with the lid held with one finger and the tea is sipped through a small opening between the lid and cup.
The houhin incorporates the same idea of pressing down on the lid when pouring liquid from the vessel.
A houhin is used when brewing tea at a low temperature, as it is difficult to hold when filled with hot water. For example, "gyokuro" is a type of premium quality tea leaves that is brewed at about 50 to 60 °C(120 to 144°F), making the houhin the perfect teapot for gyokuro.
A "sasame" tea strainer is usually made inside the houhin at the mouth of the spout ,so there is no need to strain the tea when pouring.
Also, a houhin is rather small in size compared to other teapots. Gyokuro and other teas brewed at low temperatures have deep and rich flavors that are to be enjoyed in small sips. A small cup of gyokuro will excite your tastebuds with its aromatic and mellow flavors.
The Houhin Tea Set
To brew the best quality tea with a houhin, there are some other teaware items we recommend that you prepare.
The first is teacups. As mentioned earlier, premium tea like gyokuro is enjoyed in small quantities. Therefore teacups in a smaller size are recommended.
The second is a "yuzamashi." This is a small pitcher without a handle used to cool the hot water to the appropriate temperature. You can substitute this item with the teacups or a small pitcher, but with its unique shape and style, it is a nice item to include in your houhin tea set.
How to Brew Premium Quality Japanese Tea with a Houhin
Now that all the necessary items are prepared, we'll show you step by step, how to brew delicious tea with a houhin.
The method is not difficult at all. Just follow some points and tips and become a master at brewing rich green tea with an authentic houhin.
First boil the water. It is recommended to use bottled water if you live in an area where tap water contains a high percentage of minerals.
Then pour the boiled water into the "yuzamashi" to cool the hot water. It will probably take 2 or 3 minutes for it to cool. For the first brew, the water should be cooled to about 50°C and 60°C for the second brew.
While the hot water is cooling, spoon in the appropriate amount of gyokuro tea leaves into the houhin. For this houhin a single spoon full shown in the photo is enough for a single brew.
Once the hot water is cooled to about 50 °C(122F), slowly pour it into the houhin with the tea leaves.
Place the lid on and let the tea leaves infuse for about 2 minutes.
Pour the tea evenly into the teacups by pouring a little at a time into each cup so the taste of the tea is evenly balanced between both cups.
As mentioned earlier, tea brewed at low temperatures is very rich and is to be enjoyed in small amounts.
A houhin filled with tea will probably fill 1/3 of the tea cup.
You can brew a second pot of tea at a slightly higher temperature of 60°C(140°F).
About Gyokuro Tea Leaves
Regular sencha green tea leaves and gyokuro tea leaves come from the same tea plant, but there is a difference in the way they are grown. Unlike regular green tea leaves, tea leaves for gyokuro are covered with a cloth and kept out of the sunlight for three weeks before harvesting. This process reduces the bitterness and brings out the sweet flavors of the tea leaves.
Japanese Style Hospitality
When brewed in a proper manner, gyokuro will taste like nothing you have ever experienced before. The rich aroma and "umani" flavors are simply amazing. Sip the tea slowly to let the flavors spread inside your mouth. Enjoy the lasting deeply sweet, magnificent fragrance and mellow umami flavors.
The extra attention required to brew a perfect cup of gyokuro tea is symbolic of the Japanese spirit of hospitality, "omotenashi."
Recommended Tea Items for High-Quality Tea
To best experience the wonderful flavors of gyokuro, we suggest to use appropriate teaware items like the Pink Hanazume Kutani Houhin Japanese Teapot Set with 2 teacups.
And along with the houhin tea set, copper tea canisters from Seigado made to preserve the aromas of the tea leaves, and adorable teaspoons in the shape of a beautiful red leaves also from Seigado are stylish additions to a teapot set you might want to check out.
Here are our recommended items.
To enjoy the gyokuro that has been slowly and carefully brewed, we recommended using a finer tea cup than you would normally use.
Thinner porcelain is a better material than thick stoneware, allowing you to concentrate on the delicate flavors and aromas.
Also, a slightly smaller size, about the size of a sake cup or espresso cup, is better suited for gyokuro brewed in small quantities.