I am currently embroiled in a very heated competition, a cheesecake bake off! Granted I am really the only one counting it as a competition, my judges and competitor are all like ‘we all win’ and that is fair, but not as fun. Granted the reason I am so competitive with this particular culinary competition is the recipe is both very expensive and a real pain to make without a mixer. Spoon Fork Bacon’s Goat Cheese and Greek Yogurt Cheesecake is one of my favorite recipes ever and I seriously suggest giving it a try, just know that if you make without any form of electric mixer you are in for an arm workout!
It is a Wednesday, meaning Instagram is all a buzz with the #teawarewednesday hashtag, and for all my massive hoard of teaware I have not played along in a while, so today is celebrating the beauty of teaware! Specifically Yunomi’s Sawa Houzan: Shigaraki-yaki Shiboridashi, one of my greatest treasures. For Tanabata Yunomi had a mini contest, you wrote a wish on their website and a randomly picked winner would get a gift certificate, reminiscent of the tradition of writing wishes on strips of paper. I wished for a real Japanese Shiboridashi, made for the enjoyment of green tea, to heighten my enjoyment, and when my wish was randomly picked I immediately picked the shiboridashi that has been on my wishlist for literal years.
I love my other two shiboridashi, but they were not quite perfect for the finer grade of Japanese green tea, letting the tiny leaves slip through the grooves which were just a bit too big, causing me a bit of frustration and often a mouthful of leaves. I had debated getting a clamshell style clay one at one point, but really kept coming back to this specific shiboridashi, its coloring and graceful lines called to me. The cream and subtle salmon pinks remind me of snow reflecting the colors of sunset, and the shape reminded me of a calla lily. One of the more intriguing things about the design I gleamed from the photos was the crackling, I so love teaware that tells the store of use through the deepening dark crackles achieved over time.
It was in for a massive surprise though! This shibo crackled after its first use! A fine spiderweb of dark lines started to appear after my first session with a green tea, each session since adding deeper lines and at this point it is almost entirely covered in a webwork. This patterning matches the cracked glass decoration on the knob perfectly. Really everything about the aesthetics of this piece is perfection.
No matter how beautiful a piece of teaware is, it still needs to function or it is pointless, and no one wants that. Luckily this piece was crafted by a master potter so of course it functions beautifully! The pour is fast and even, no weird drips or messes when I am pouring. The grooves keep the majority of the leaves inside the shibo, a tiny crumb might escape but really it is immensely effective. It keeps the temperature of the leaves and water steeping even but does not hold heat too terribly well, this is great when I am drinking those delicate Japanese greens but on the few occasions I have used the shibo for other teas the tea was a little bit watery from heat loss. Honestly though complaining about that is like complaining when the screwdriver is really bad at hammering in nails, wrong tool for the job.
Since it wouldn’t be a teaware review by me if I didn’t find one thing to nitpick, this beautiful perfect treasure is a pain to clean. Specifically those grooves are a pain to clean, I feel like I need to get a specific scrub brush just to get the bits of leaves out from between them. And yes, it is somewhat hard to photograph, the bright color and crackles cause some havoc for my camera, but that is more a failing as a photographer than a failure in the teaware, it makes me sad though since it is so pretty and I want to show off how pretty it is!!