Tea Culture, Teaware  |  7.21.2020  |  By S. Tasaki

How to Use a Kyusu or Traditional Japanese Teapot

A kyusu, sometimes spelled kyuusu, is a traditional Japanese teapot used for brewing Japanese green tea. The most common type of kyusu comes with a handle on the side, although it can also have a handle on the back or over the top.

It is usual for a person to use the term kyusu to refer to a teapot made for sencha (Japanese green tea) and use more specific terms for teapots made for other teas.

Kyusu teapots are small compared to Western standard teapots. The usual size is 270ml, but they can even be much smaller. Not to mention, the style of traditional Japanese teapots can vary widely. Handle placement, shape, and color can be different.

A cup of green tea in a white cup with black kyusu and Japanese snacks on a sakura wooden tray

Kyusu: Three Main Styles

A kyusu comes in three primary styles:

1. Yokode Kyusu: Side-Handle Teapots

Yokode kyusu is Japan’s most iconic teapot shape and is the perfect teaware for regular drinking. The small size of the teapot makes it great for brewing small quantities and drawing out the complete taste of the leaves, along with the most astringent flavor concentrated in the final pour.

Kyusu Teapot Yozora

Inspired by its deep blue hues, this traditional minoware kyusu teapot is named after the night sky. The Yozora teapot features thick walls with a glazed inside and built-in side strainer for easy cleaning.


2. Ushirode Kyusu: Back-handle teapots

Like teapots you come across in Western countries, ushirode kyusu is the style that is originally inspired by clay teapots introduced in China through trade routes centuries ago. Now, this timeless teapot style with its typical silhouette is one of the most commonly used in Japan for brewing Chinese and European blends, although the moderate size makes this teapot style apt for brewing numerous servings of green tea at a time.

white ushirode teapot on white background

3. Uwade Kyusu: Top-handle teapots

Uwade Kyusu refers to any Japanese teapot with a handle on the top. While you may not know it by name, you are perhaps familiar with the most popular style of top-handle teapots known as “dobin” in Japan. Their larger handles, which are commonly made from rattan or bamboo, allow for an easy grip that helps in protecting your hands from the heat-conducting material of the vessel. This size is even more convenient for brewing larger amounts of green tea.

ushirode kyusu teapot next to brewed tea

Tetsubin Gen

This Tetsubin kettle features a modern, elegant design with a curved edge around the lid for no spillage. Handcrafted by Japanese artisans with a 900 year history of iron work, this kettle features a porcelain enamel interior for a glass-like finish that aids in heat retention.


Why You Should Use a Kyusu Teapot

Kyusu is specially made for brewing green tea, typically Japanese green teas that have their own unique flavor and aroma. The clay of the teapot keeps the heat steady, ensuring a truer taste of the tea. Kyusu teapots are a perfect blend of artistry, practicality, and craft. Most importantly, they are easy to use as well as care for.

hand pouring green tea from sakura chasen teaspoon into a black kyusu teapot with sakura cherry blossom tea canisters in the background

How to Prepare Green Tea using Kyusu

There’s no doubt that the kyusu pot is ideal for brewing the perfect cup of Japanese green tea. As with preparing any tea, finding the perfect balance of infusion time, the amount of tea, and the temperature of the water is quite important.

Before you begin, gather the following items:

Once you are ready follow the below steps carefully:

  1. Step 1: Cool Water & Measure Tea
    You can start by boiling fresh water in an over-the-stove kettle or using an electric kettle. Next, you will need to cool down the water to the ideal brewing temperature in your yuzamashi or water cooling pitcher.
  2. Step 2: Add Tea
    Next, measure five grams (approximately 1 teaspoon) for a kyusu with roughly 200ml to 250ml of water. Then add the measured tea to a dry and clean kyusu teapot.
  3. Step 3: Add Water
    Once the water has cooled to a suitable temperature, you need to pour your tea into the kyusu teapot slowly. Fill about 90%of the Kyusu pot with water. Make sure to leave some room at the top for cleaner decantation.
  4. Step 4: Infuse
    Add the lid for the recommended infusion time, generally about one to two minutes for Japanese green tea.
  5. Step 5: Pour
    To pour, hold the kyusu in your hand while you secure the lid with your thumb. Pour the tea from the teapot by rocking it back and forth with a gentle wrist motion. Pour a small amount of tea into each teacup, alternating from one teacup to the next at least 6 or 7 times to make sure that each cup gets an equal amount of tea. Be sure to pour all the tea to the last drop out of the kyusu. That’s how to use a Kyusu to prepare a cup of Japanese green tea.

A hand pouring green tea into two cups using a Japanese traditional kyusu teapot

More facts & tips about kyusu teapots

  • Many kyusu come with a dip around the inside bottom. This serves as a small gulley for additional water to go to between infusion times, in order to prevent the tea leaves from brewing in the remaining drops.
  • Generally, Kyusu has a plastic ring that is secured around the spout. Some people keep this on because it helps in preventing drips from occurring while pouring.
  • Kyusu is often made from tokoname, a common kind of clay.
  • You should never clean a kyusu teapot with dish soap.
  • You should never place the teapot directly onto fire.
  • Leave the kyusu to dry naturally, with the lid off.

It’s time to get a high-quality kyusu and green tea to prepare a perfect cup of tea and enjoy!

green tea being brewed in a tradtional uwade kyusu on straw mat


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