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I was raised in a city that is famous for its Japanese pottery, Seto ware. Seasonal “Seto ware festivals” were held twice a year and I was surrounded by pottery and porcelain at home. Thanks to my parents’ appreciation for Seto ware, I also developed a love for pottery. Here, I would like to introduce the “ceremony” my mother did every time she brought a new clayware home–whether it was a matcha tea bowl, a teapot, and a clay cooking pot.

The significance of the first care

The “ceremony” actually has an important step that you do not want to skip. Clayware such as teaware made with clay has many tiny holes and without a proper “initiation,” those “pores” might cause all kinds of problems–the hot water trapped in the hole expands and may cause a crack or even break the clayware. Or, the soup or tea gets trapped in the holes, which may create stains, mold, and/or a bad smell.

Air bubbles from tiny pores

How to take care of the teaware before you use for the first time

This first step is called “Yutoshi” in Japanese. “Yu” is warm water in Japanese, and you submerge the clayware, such as matcha tea bowls and teapot, in lukewarm water before you start to use it. In fact, my mother “cooked” the teaware in a big pot. It might make you nervous to “boil” the beautiful ware you just bought. So here’s how she did it:

  1. Remove the parts from the clayware that are not made from clay, such as handles.
  2. Carefully put the clayware in a big pot and add water to the pot until the clayware is just covered.
  3. Heat the pot and when water starts to boil, turn down the heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from heat. Let the teaware cool in the hot water until the water is cool enough to touch.
  5. Remove the teaware from the water carefully with both hands. Drain water from the ware and leave the teaware out on a clean, dry towel until completely dry.

How to take care afterwards

Now your teaware is ready to use. After each use, you should wash your beautiful teaware carefully by hand without soap. If you use soap, the clay will pick the fragrance of the soap and next time your tea might smell and taste like the soap.

no more air bubbles
No more air bubbles after “initiated.”

The first step makes the ware tougher as well

My mother told me the cooking process tightens up the ‘pores’ and consequently makes the ware less fragile. Later I learned this process will prevent staining. (I learned it after I ruined a beautiful set of teacups that I bought for the first time for myself.) The first care is important so that you can keep your teaware nice and beautiful and enjoy it for many years to come.

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The authentic teaware is a joy to give and a pleasure to use. Check out our gift section to find genuine, beautiful teaware selections!

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