The term kyusu literally means teapot in Japanese and generally refers to a small clay teapot used for brewing green tea. While the kyusu is generally considered to be a teapot with a large conical handle attached to the side it turns out this is actually a yokode kuysu. There are also ushirode kyusu that looks like a traditional western teapot with the handle attached to the back, uwade kyusu which has a handle on the top, and houhin kyusu which doesn’t feature a handle at all. The yokode kyusu is the most distinctive to westerners though all can be considered works of art. Indeed, if you appreciate the artistry of the kyusu you will find any number of colors and styles available from skilled craftsmen.
Use a Kyusu Step by Step
Preparing Japanese green tea with a kyusu is simple though it is a bit different than brewing with single use teabags or infusers. Please note that these are very general directions and the actual time, temperature, and amount of leaf varies widely according to taste. These directions are for an average sized kyusu that holds approximately 14 oz of water (414 cc).
To get started it is best to have some kind of cooling pitcher since we want the water to be around 160-180°F. A simple glass Pyrex measuring cup works fine in a pinch. Pouring hot water from a teapot or kettle into a cooling vessel will quickly allow the water to cool to the desired range after only a couple minutes or so.
Add 6-8 grams or about a tablespoon and a half of Japanese green tea. Although this style teapot is normally associated with Japanese sencha green tea it can be used with most other varieties including bancha and gyokuro.
Steeping with a kyusu is intended for multiple rapid steepings, so add the water to your kyusu and steep for 25 to 30 seconds. When pouring a little gentle rocking of the pot will ensure the contents are well mixed and balanced throughout. Pour a little into each cup (if you are using small cups) and then return to add a bit more so that each cup ultimately gets an even balance of flavor and umami.
Be sure to pour out all the liquid so the leaves don’t sit in hot water. When ready, infuse a second and even third time.
Finally, be sure to remove all the tea leaves and rinse out your kyusu with cold water. Do not use soap to wash your kyusu or use it to make other kinds of tea as the clay absorbs and retains a little bit of the green tea with each steeping, flavoring the teapot as its used.