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Richard Kilgore

Tetsubin cast iron tea pots and kettles - good, bad, indifferent?

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There were a few posts regarding tetsubin cast iron tea pots (copied below) in the Show Us Your Teaware topic, and opinions about these vessels tend to vary considerably. What's your experience with tetsubin - lined and marketed as teapots, or unlined and traditionally used as water kettles?

I don't have any Chinese teapots. Instead, I prefer the tetsubin:

gallery_6594_807_56268.jpg

The Le Creuset of teapots -- almost literally. Enamelled cast iron, and will still be around long after I'm gone. Their main drawback is Le Creuset-like prices; they're not cheap.

The one pictured is the one I use for most everything, with the major exception of Lapsang Souchong; I have a cheap Chinese knock-off tetsubin for that. The capacity is about 16 ounces (475 ml). It's a quite nice dark blue color that wears to reveal the black enamel underneath -- the color isn't quite done justice by the photo.

Someday, I'll have another to dedicate specifically for green tea, and maybe another for whites. I'm not that fussy at the moment.

BTW, pictured next to the tetsubin are (on the left), a silver tip white tea (fluffy and actually somewhat fuzzy leaves), and on the right, some jasmine silver pearls.

That's a beautiful pot, but why do you prefer cast iron to porcelain and clay pots and what is it about these cast iron pots that you would want to dedicate several of them to various teas?

I'm curious as to the answer, as well. In Japan tetsubin are rarely used for brewing water much less for making tea (and then it's the lined tetsubin that are used). I've always seen the use of tetsubin for brewing tea as a Western affectation, but I'm curious if people really see a benefit (flavour-wise) to using tetsubin. The only benefit I can think of would be that it holds heat longer, but that would not necessarily improve the flavour of the tea (particularly since Japanese teas should be brewed in smaller amounts for best flavour).

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I love my cast iron pots. Not that they brew a superior tea (my palate is not so refined to notice much difference between brewing in different pots). I just think they're beautiful, and to me that adds to the pleasure of a good cup of tea. I'll try to post pics in the teaware thread later.


I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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gallery_6594_807_56268.jpg

That's a beautiful pot, but why do you prefer cast iron to porcelain and clay pots and what is it about these cast iron pots that you would want to dedicate several of them to various teas?

I'm curious as to the answer, as well. In Japan tetsubin are rarely used for brewing water much less for making tea (and then it's the lined tetsubin that are used). I've always seen the use of tetsubin for brewing tea as a Western affectation, but I'm curious if people really see a benefit (flavour-wise) to using tetsubin. The only benefit I can think of would be that it holds heat longer, but that would not necessarily improve the flavour of the tea (particularly since Japanese teas should be brewed in smaller amounts for best flavour).

Good questions. I wouldn't claim that this particular type of pot makes the tea taste any better. It holds heat well, yet develops the same patina (internally) that a porcelain pot would. An unglazed pot would accumulate more residue over time; thus it might be more desirable to have more pots for different types of tea. I like the look of this pot, and it's an improvement over what I was using before. I think I was over-enthusiastic in suggesting different tetsubins for black/green/white tea. It might be a good thing, but not essential. I have a separate pot for Lapsang Souchong because it's intense flavor sticks to whatever touches it; I also have a cup dedicated to it.

(Again), I'm really not that fussy. Taste absolutely matters, but I tend to consume tea in approximately 16-ounce portions. I respect the concept of (say) 20 repeated one ounce infusions, but it's not for me.

And prasantrin, I currently have Sencha, Kukicha, and Hojicha from Shizouka. Maybe I'll try brewing smaller quantities. Thanks.

(Been busy, slow reply).

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