So, what is unique about these Japanese cast iron teapots? Usually, these cast iron teapots are made not only to add aesthetic value to your lovely culinary collection but also serve as a simple and efficient method to boil a great cup of tea. These pots typically are made of solid cast iron. They have exceptional thermal mass, so you can easily keep your beverage heated for a long time even after you have brewed it.
Although some Japanese cast iron teapots may be used on the stove, most of them have an enamel inside coating and outside paint. It leaves them perfectly adapted to brewing tea with pre-heated hot water.
What is Tetsubin Japanese Cast Iron Teapot?
Tetsubin is especially a Japanese-made product that has cast-iron kettles with a top handle, lid, and serving spout. They are used to heat water, particularly for brewing tea. Tetsubin literally translates to “iron pot”. It is kind of common use in Japanese households.
Boiling water is said to taste better when it is boiled using this Japanese cast iron tea kettle. The Japanese teas are very refined and delicate. And for that, a factor that could be involved in it would be when the water is heated in a cast-iron kettle. The tea’s aftertaste becomes sweeter and rounder when the water is boiled in these Japanese cast iron teapots. In addition, tea water gives additional health advantages due to the mineral content contained by the material of tetsubin. You will feel less lazy and more active if you keep making your teas in these special kettles.
The History of Tetsubin Cast Iron Kettles
So the exact origin of the tetsubin is still not known yet. But according to the Japanese Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Way of Tea. The tetsubin tea kettle evolved from a tedorigama, a Japanese water kettle. This kettle is sometimes also spelled as tedorikama. And in the sixteenth century, the latter was already in use.
Another theory in this regard is that the tetsubin’s popularity rose in tandem with the expansion of sencha, or Japanese loose leaf green tea. Chinese traders visited Nagasaki in the second half of the seventeenth century. And on their visit, they brought loose leaf tea expertise to Japan during the Edo era. Japanese intellectuals were mainly influenced by China during that period, and so they enjoyed Chinese arts and crafts.
From the seventeenth century through the start of the Meiji era, senchado, or the technique of sencha, expanded. This habit was mostly appreciated by educated merchants. They then eventually began to drink sencha in a less formal setting than chanoyu.
Chinese tea implements used in senchado remained scarce and expensive for ordinary Japanese families. As a result, new Japanese kettles were employed. And tetsubin cast iron tea kettle was one of them. So it soon became increasingly popular. And it quickly rose to a popular tea-making tool in the home.
Tetsubin or Tetsukyusu Cast Iron Teapot?
The most renowned Japanese teapot outside of Japan, particularly in the Western market, is the tetsukyusu (iron teapot). This is a cast iron teapot that highly resembles a tetsubin on the outside.
However, there is one significant difference between both of these Japanese cast iron teapots. The interior of the tetsukyusu is enameled to make it more convenient for tea brewing. It is frequently provided with a detachable tea strainer. Tetsukyusu cannot be used to heat water since the enamel coating inside would be irreversibly damaged.
While on the other hand, a tetsubin should not be mistaken with a tetsukyusu. As it is a fact that both terms are now frequently used interchangeably. The latter is exclusively used to make tea and not to heat water. And for boiling water, a tetsubin is usually required. So it should be kept in mind that a Tetsubin is not used for brewing tea.
In order to know the difference between them, keep sure to check the interior of your cast iron teapot. If it is enamel glazed and has a strainer, it is a Tetsukyusu. And if it is not then it must be a Tetsubin.
How to Boil Water in a Tetsubin?
To make sure that your tetsubin cast iron teapotis clean, first, rinse it with cool water after purchasing. After that keep boiling water within it multiple times.
Tetsubin can be used over an open fire or a gas stove. They should not be used on electric stoves. To avoid getting burnt, slowly slide the lid open once the water has reached a boil.
How to Brew Tea in a Tetsukyusu?
We suggest that it would be helpful to give some recommendations to take care of your Japanese teapot because tetsukyusu are well-known in the Western market. The instructions below are for tetsukyusu, which are the Japanese cast iron tea kettles with a tea strainer and an enamel covering on the interior. This is just to make sure that you have the right tea kettle in your hand).
Tetsukyusu should never be used in front of an open flame. To begin, thoroughly clean your tetsukyusu with hot water. Then fill the tea strainer halfway with tea, but do not overfill it. There should be enough room for the tea leaves to grow and release their hidden aroma. After that, fill the kettle halfway with boiling water and steep your tea. Once the tea has been brewed, remove the strainer containing the tea. If desired, repeat the brewing process.
How to Take Care of Your Japanese Cast Iron Teapot or Kettle?
It is highly recommended that you should not pour too much cold water into your Japanese cast iron teapot. Especially when it has just been filled with hot water or is still hot. This might result in cracking and damage to your teapot.
When not in use, always empty your tetsubin or tetsukyusu. To avoid rusting, rinse it with warm water and dry it immediately after use with a dry towel. Allow it to dry in a well-ventilated area. And if you are keeping anything, make sure it is dry on the inside. Use no soap or detergent on this teapot, as you would do with any other.
And there you go. We wish you a lot of enjoyment with your Japanese cast iron teapot or kettle. Happy tea season!