Thursday, September 30, 2010

Black ceramic kettle upgrade

Here is the latest version of this set. This new stand is bigger and more stable. It has to fit a new, more powerful and adjustable burner that is now now able to bring the 1 liter kettle to a boil within 15 minutes (provided you use a denaturated alcohol with a high alcohol content%).

This may still seem long in our fast world, but a Cha Xi is not a race, on the contrary. 15 minutes is about right to decide which tea you want to taste, prepare your accessories in accordance, smell the dry leaves, observe their characteristics and calm down.

Here is how it works:
- Left. Position is open. Flame is biggest to heat the water,
- Middle. Position is closed. Less air means a small flame to keep the water warm.
- Right. Cover is on. This stops the flame. (It's also OK to put the cover on the flame air flow adjuster.)

BEWARE: Hot water and fire are dangerous and can cause painful burns. Be careful and focused when you handle a kettle. Don't let kids play with it.

The water from this ceramic kettle is lighter than from my iron tetsubin. That's the reason why I use it more with unroasted Oolongs or green tea.
(Updated article on June 17, 2013)


五行雲子 said...

I would be interested on the differences in taste of the water in your new kettle compared to your tetsubin.

Nice post, thanks for sharing.

Stephane said...

Thanks for the question. The water from the ceramic kettle tastes lighter, closer to the original water. It has less 'aftertaste'.
With the tetsubin, the water feels heavier in a way that seems to add a layer of depth. This is what gives a thicker and longer mouthfeel to tea. However, the iron taste alone isn't that pleasant without water. This is especially true if you let the water sit longer in the tetsubin or if you taste the last drops (the iron deposits at the bottom). This is why the quality of the iron is very important in an old tetsubin.

pipo said...

Bonjour Stéphane,
Je souhaiterais poser une question liée à l'utilisation des bouilloires. Partout sur les vidéos de dégustation disponibles sur le net, on voit l'eau allègrement bouillir dans la bouilloire sur son socle sans que personne ne s'en inquiète. Or, selon tes dires et ma propre expérience, lorsque l'eau est bouillie, même seulement quelques minutes, le rendu de l'infusion en est sérieusement affecté.
J'ai du mal à comprendre comment les choses doivent réellement se dérouler. Pourrais-tu m'éclairer s'il te plait ?

Stephane said...

C'est super que tu le sentes par toi-même! Si tu le sens, tu comprends donc qu'il est utile d'avoir une plaque isolante sur laquelle tu peux mettre ta bouilloire une fois que l'eau a bouilli. Et tu la remets au=-dessus de la flamme avant la prochaine infusion.
Une autre façon de pallier à ce problème de 'vieille' eau, est de rajouter de l'eau fraiche au fur à mesure.

Il n'y a pas de solution parfaite. Cela dépend de la sensibilité de chacun à l'eau. L'idéal est de laisser tes papilles guider tes gestes. Et de trouver une solution pas trop contraignante.

John-Paul said...

I really love this kettle! Up until recently I have been using a glass kettle on my stovetop to heat water. After trying this glazed clay pot, I find that I can no longer go back to my old method.

At first, this clay pot exhbited a slight odour, and it gave water a bit of a funny aftertaste if it sat too long. However, after cleaning the new pot with warm water and a cloth, and using it a couple times, I found that this is so longer the case. Even after sitting in the kettle for over 24 hours, the water still tastes delicious.

I find that the kettle adds some mineral content to my water, making the resulting tea taste less flat, and fuller bodied (fresh and roasted oolongs). The water also feels more lively on the tongue, and almost has a slight tickling effect.

This is also a very beuatiful kettle. It is nice to look at, and nice to touch! I'm really glad I picked this one up.

John-Paul said...

To update, I still use this kettle nearly every day. As Stephane has pointed out, it is not necessarily the most ideal vessel for water intended for roasted oolongs, but it is the best I've got for now, and it serves me well.

One thing I noticed is that it seems better to boil the water more gradually over a medium low heat. This allows the walls of the kettle itself to reach a higher and more uniform temperature. As a result, your water will hold it's temperature for a longer period of time. And, as others have mentioned, it also helps you to make sure that the water does not over-boil.

About the burner, I have the one that is non-adjustable. At this point I'm thinking that I should have gone for the adjustable burner, as the difference in cost was minimal, and it would allow for much better temperature control. I think the reason I didn't was because I preferred the relatively larger kettle that came with mine. I've just been keeping my kettle on the burner, and adding fresh water to keep the desired temperature. Stephane, I wonder if you sell any adjustable burners separately?

I also wanted to point out that the burner itself is made out of the same porous material as the kettle, and does not have an air tight lid for when not in use. As a result, the alcohol fuel it contains will evaporate quite readily when left unlit. At first, I wasted a lot of fuel this way. For now, I've been keeping the burner in a ziplock plastic bag when not in use to minimize the evaporation. You can also try to only put as much fuel as you think you'll need each time, but the wick is too short to reach the bottom of the burner, which causes a substantial amount of fuel to remain in the container even after the flame has burned out. So unless you pour this excess fuel back into the original bottle, it will be lost to evaporation.

Hopefully I can find an appropriate alcohol burner that is not only adjustable, but also is non-porous, and has a tightly fitting lid.

I believe that the current design of this burner is not only wasteful, but also potentially dangerous. The best alcohol fuels that I have found (like denatured ethanol, and methanol) are definitely toxic and should not be inhaled or touched. Therefore, the fuel needs to be properly and safely contained. By the way, the fuel I currently use is Methyl hydrate, which can be found in the paint section of a hardware store for pretty cheap, and burns hot and clean.

Wilhite said...

Is this from Lin's? These are tough to find in America.

Stephane said...

No. It's from Kyo kiln.