Shiboridashi Vs. Kyusu Vs. Gaiwan

Greetings fellow tea lovers! It’s good to be back to blogging again after a short break to switch jobs and move to a new house in a new state. So I just bought my first ever shiboridashi and I figured the best way to break it in was to put it to the test. So I decided to have the same Gyokuro in the new shibo, my tokoname kyusu, and a porcelain gaiwan to see if I can taste any differences between the brewing vessels.

I used gyokuro that I recently purchased from the Dobra tea house in Greenville and used 4 grams per 100ml of water ratio for each vessel and 150F water brewed for 1 minute.

I didn’t notice any difference in color of the liquor. So on to the tasting. I had to drink these quickly before they cooled too much so I didn’t get detailed tasting notes. I just tried to note any differences. It was close between the shibo and the kyusu. This makes sense because they are both made out of tokoname clay. The shibo is flat and wide and they kyusu is tall and thin. I will say that the shibo was just every so slightly more thick. The main difference though was in the umami and this is where the shibo really shines. It definitely got more umami flavor out of the tea than the kyusu. The kyusu was still very good, mind you, but slight edge to the shibo. What about the gaiwan you say, weren’t there three vessels here? The gaiwan wasn’t bad by any means, but it brought out more harsh notes and was more astringent than the others by a noticeable amount. This is what I expected but I wanted to have a control in the test to be sure the whole clay thing wasn’t just hype. It’s not.

After this, I decided to focus on the two clay vessels only for the next infusions.

The second infusion was more of the same. The shibo had slightly more texture and slightly more umami than the kyusu. Both were very good.

I went for one more because why not? For science*

For the third infusion, the shibo brought out just a bit more sweetness than the kyusu. This was a pleasant surprise. I am someone who enjoys the later steeps of Japanese greens after the brightness fades and you are left with the sweetness. I believe the shibo shines here as well.

You really can’t go wrong with either of these vessels for brewing Japanese greens. But if you want to squeeze the absolute most that you can out of a gyokuro you may want to consider a shiboridashi.

But, is it worth the money? The important question here on this blog. Honestly, I don’t know. The kyusu was a gift from a tea friend you may know named Winston, but best I can tell a smililar one would run about $150. I purchased the shibo while it was 20% off. Regular $84 but I paid $68 and received free shipping. It should be noted that the shibo has a 60ml capacity, so it’s about as small as it gets for a tea vessel. The kyusu holds 300ml. The shibo would only be good for solo sessions whereas the kyusu could be used for serving friends.

For me, a small shibo at a lower price was worth it. I have looked for a shibo for a while but most of them were larger and too expensive for my taste. I’m glad I purchased it and will be using it a lot in the future. Cheers!

You can purchase the shiboridashi here.

*For me, who are we kidding? 🙂


4 thoughts on “Shiboridashi Vs. Kyusu Vs. Gaiwan

  1. This is great! I found myself reaching for more Japanese green teas this year, so I was considering buying a Japanese brewing vessel. I almost never see anything about shiboridashi, so sort of by default I was leaning toward buying a kyusu. I’m now reconsidering though since I’m one of those folks who LOVES her umami. Plus, I’m usually not making tea for two.


  2. I’m getting lazy where kyusu cleaning is concerned. The ones with the built-in steel filter are getting some sediments built-up and difficult to wash, while I don’t really fancy using the ones with the removable steel strainer. Plus what I have are actually too big for one person, and nowadays I’m the only tea drinker in my household. I’m looking into getting more shibo and houhin (Chinese tea drinkers might call it easy gaiwan) next year. 💸

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the insight on the Shibo v. Kyusu! I usually use a flat style 300ml Tokokame Kyusu (just for me) for brewing Sencha and Gyokuro, and it’s just too danged big. Sounds like the Shibo is the charm! I am also looking at one in Honshudei clay by Tanikawa Jin. Stay tuned!


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