4 Recommended Hot Sake Cup Sets from Japan

If you’re searching for authentic sake sets made in Japan for drinking that perfect cup of hot sake, look no further. This article will introduce 4 of our most recommended hot sake cup sets crafted by skilled Japanese artisans that you are sure to love for both sipping and serving delicious hot sake.

Yes, You Can Drink Sake Hot

pouring hot sake from sake set

Japanese people have been drinking hot sake for centuries. While its exact beginnings aren’t quite known, some estimate the practice of drinking warmed sake goes all the way back to the Heian period (794-1185). Back then, fridges and other methods of keeping drinks chilled didn’t exist, so naturally people drank their sake either heated or at room temperature. It wasn’t until refrigeration became a thing that chilled sake became popular.

Why Do the Japanese Drink Hot Sake?

sake with warm food

Just like coffee or tea, heating sake allows you to enjoy the same brew in a completely different way. It makes the drink drier, but also boosts its umami and fragrance.

Hot sake is also great to drink in winter. Why suffer with cold drinks in chilly weather when you can still enjoy an alcoholic beverage that warms the body from the inside out?

Lastly, hot sake is actually stronger than chilled sake. This is because alcohol is absorbed into your body quicker the closer to body temperature it is. So, if your goal is to get tipsy quick, drinking your sake hot is the way to go.

Is Hot Sake Lower Quality?

Just because chilled sake is more popular nowadays doesn’t mean that hot sake is lower quality or not as delicious.

This bad reputation comes from when sake was first exported overseas. Storage and preservation technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now, and international shipping both took longer and cost more. As a result, overseas establishments found it difficult to procure high-quality sake. To hide the harsh flavors of the lower-quality sake, they would warm it up, and this was what led to hot sake’s negative reputation abroad.

What Sake Is Served Hot?

While you can heat up and drink pretty much any sake you like, not all sake tastes great hot. The general advice is to avoid heating up any brews that have strong fruity or flowery notes. Instead, focus your attention on sake with umami and richness.

How Do I Order Hot Sake?

ordering sake

While hot sake as a whole is referred to as “kan” or “kan-zake” in Japanese, the exact name actually changes depending on what temperature it is served at. Using the below terms will let staff know how hot you would like your sake served.

55°C and above: tobikiri-kan (scalding hot)
50°C: atsu-kan (piping hot)
45°C: joh-kan (hot)
40°C: nuru-kan (lukewarm)
35°C: hitohada-kan (body temperature)
30°C: hinata-kan (sunbathed hot)

If you decide to get some of your own sake to enjoy at home but you’re not sure what temperature is best for your sake, feel free to ask the restaurant or store staff. Those who can read Japanese might find some instructions on the sake label as well.

How Do You Heat Sake at Home?

boiling pot of water for heating sake

The best way to heat sake is by pouring it into the tokkuri (decanter) until it’s 90% filled, covering the mouth with plastic wrap, and then putting the tokkuri into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Make sure the heat is turned off before you put the tokkuri in. The sake is ready when it rises to the mouth of the decanter. The bottom of the decanter should feel somewhat hot, but not scalding, when you touch it.

If that’s a bit too much cleanup for you, however, you can always try the microwave. Pour the sake into a tokkuri, wrap the mouth with plastic wrap, and then stick it in the microwave at 20 second intervals between 500-600W until you get the temperature at the point you need. Each time you take it out of the microwave, swirl the sake in the tokkuri a bit to ensure a consistent temperature.

BECOS Top 4 Recommended Hot Sake Cup Sets

For hot sake, we recommend looking for porcelain or ceramic sake sets, as they retain heat better. For the same reason, if you want an accompanying tokkuri, ensure it has a small opening to prevent heat from escaping.

TOUAN FLOWER CRYSTAL 3-PIECE SAKE SET

TOUAN FLOWER CRYSTAL 3-PIECE SAKE SET

Every inch of this sake cup and bottle set was made to impress. The sake cups are curved yet smooth, making them easy to cup in your hand and feel the warmth of hot sake. Then there’s the flower petal pattern, which has a gorgeous transparency to it that’s unique to Touan, a Kyoto pottery maker established in 1922. Dishwasher and microwave safe, this porcelain sake set would make a practical and lovely addition to any home.

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MARUMO TAKAGI SUN JAPAN CHIRPING 3-PIECE SAKE SET

MARUMO TAKAGI SUN JAPAN CHIRPING 3-PIECE SAKE SET

One of the best ways to enjoy sake is by drinking it in the midst of the great outdoors. But if you can’t do so any time soon, let this ceramic sake cup and tokkuri set bring nature to you. Utilizing water and air pressure, the tokkuri chirps like a bird when you pour sake from it, and so do the cups when you drink from them. Of course, the uniqueness of this sake set alone isn’t what drives us to recommend it - each item is painted in a way that will help anyone gazing at it envision Japan.

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SOEKYU-SEITOSYO GOSU HANA 3-PIECE SAKE SET

SOEKYU-SEITOSYO GOSU HANA 3-PIECE SAKE SET

This gorgeous blue and white porcelain sake set will charm the socks off anyone it is gifted to with its simple yet stylish design. Choose from several shades of blue, but regardless of which you purchase, rest assured that the blue pigment is there to stay for the duration of the sake set’s life. And with the maker having a strong focus on creating works that are both original and high quality, almost needless to say, these pieces are sure to last for a long time.

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HIRADO SHOZAN GOKAKU-BIN & SAKAZUKI SEIKAIHA 2-PIECE SAKE SET

HIRADO SHOZAN GOKAKU-BIN & SAKAZUKI SEIKAIHA 2-PIECE SAKE SET

This porcelain sake cup and tokkuri set has a stunning “seikaiha” wave crest design that carries the wish of happiness lasting forever - a sentiment that is truly aimed for that special someone in your life. Made by a 400-year-old kiln whose works have received special attention by not just the Japanese government, but even authority figures abroad, it is certainly not a cheap gift, but it is one that you can see passed down for generations. Each and every set is made to order and sure to delight.

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Didn't see the perfect sake set above? We have many more sake set options on our sake sets collection page. Be sure to take a look.

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