The world of tea is almost too large. If you’ve researched tea, you may already know, for example, that gyokuro is primarily defined by shading tea leaves a number of days before harvest. You may also know that wild tea harvests are a thing on Shikoku, one of Japan’s largest islands. The world of tea also includes far more pressing and immediate preferences such as steep times and flavor profiles. This is what, for many people, makes tea such a beautiful element to their lives: Its seemingly endless details. Let’s spend a few moments to add another detail to the world of tea – the world of Yuzamashi.
Yuzamashi As a Tool, What Is It?
If you have shopped around at a local tea shop or online, chances are you’ve come across some kind of unique pottery that may or may not have a unique handle. Often with simplistic designs, the Yuzamashi is a tea servicing accessory that directly alters water temperature.
Let’s take a step back for a moment and talk about what may be described as “the tea drinking experience.” There are various ways of making various teas but for many, the idea is simply to boil water with a given amount of tea or with a tea bag and drink it when desired. There is, however, an established way to drink Japanese teas. For example, sencha and genmaicha are ideally brewed at 176F/80C. To bring the richness and fullness of the tea and nutrients (and catechins!) within, it is best to review temperatures and steeping times. However, there is room to maneuver and many tea drinkers have their own tea-steeping methods.
The Importance of Yuzamashi as a Tool and a Method
The idea is to achieve “umami” or in English: “pleasant savory taste.” Umami is noted as one of the basic five tastes amongst sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness. Umami, it is said, comes primarily from glutamate, which is often found in tea. An amino acid, glutamate produces a “brothy” type of flavor and can be perfect in your cup of tea.
If you plan on adopting an ideal approach to your tea-drinking experience, the Yuzamashi is an ideal tool to brewing. The idea is to establish the right temperature. The Yuzamashi cools boiling water to the ideal temperature for brewing the given tea. In fact, it is as much of a tool as it is a method.
There are a number of ways in which the method of yuzamashi is deployed. Often when brewing sencha or genmaicha, boiled water is poured into the Yuzamashi and then, when cooled, placed into a teapot for brewing. For gyokuro, boiled water is often poured into a teacup then poured into a yuzamashi then poured again into a teapot reaching the ideal brewing temperature of 70C.
If we return to the world of tea, there is a notable tea culture that comes along with it. It means something and adds something to our morning, our meal and/or where we are. The yuzamashi adds another layer to tea culture. Whether you have found the perfect aesthetic piece or simply want to perfect the temperatures and steeping of your tea, it’s hard to overlook the value.
Author Kei Nishida is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, and uses product images with permission