Monday, September 25, 2006

My iron Tetsubin

I've often made the point that water is a very important part of your tea. You just can't make good tea with bad tasting/smelling water. But using good cold water is not enough, as you must warm it so that it remains good. I remember I used to cook my tap water with a stainless steel kettle over my gas heater in my kitchen until I learned gongfu cha with Teaparker. That was all wrong (and I was always disappointed by the tea I made with such water.)

So, how do I boil my water now?

First, I boil it slowly. I use an electric induction heater and use the low to medium speed to bring the water to a slight boil (the well known crab eyes: when air bubbles the size of crab eyes appear in the water). By boiling the water slowly, it's more easy to catch this moment. If you pass it, the water will loose its oxygen and become 'old'.

Second, I use this Japanese iron cast tetsubin pot. The important thing about it is that there is no enamel or glazing inside.Iron, like clay, is a little bit porous. This allows the water to 'breath' and remain young longer. Iron is also quite heavy and heat conductive. This means that the temperature remains hot for quite a long time.

Such an iron pot has another positive characteristic that most people are afraid of: it rusts! See the close up below.

When you use a tetsubin, you can't let the water sit still for several hours (otherwise the water will become brown). You have to use it in a timely fashion and dry it (with heat) at the end of your gongfu cha. Some rust will still appear over time, but the tiny little quantity of iron that dissolves into the water will actually be good for the taste of tea and for your health (especially since you can't eat spinach anymore nowadays!).

I paid over 100 USD for it. Nevertheless, I found that this an investment that pays off as I use it every day, for every tea.


Imen said...


I know you must included me as one of those people afraid of rust.

Your tetsubin is beautiful, spout is well made for precision pour. Love the little footers as well.

Do you keep the water hot or warm with a heat source after transfered to the tetsubin?

TeaMasters said...


Don't be afraid! If the water is clear, there is nothing to fear.

To answer your question: it depends. Usually, I make tea next to my heat source, so the tetsubin stays on the electric heater. I turn it off after the water has boiled in the tetsubin and only reboil it after 15 minutes or if I add cold water.
But in the case of this article, I made my tea in the living room, far away from the tea source. So I first boiled the water in the tetsubin and brought it to this table. And I can brew 3-4 times (depending on speed and thirst) without heating the water again.

Xiao Hui said...

Your blog is wonderful! Tea has always been one of my interests, and I've always wanted to learn the real cha dao but haven't got a chance to! (Geographical and cultural limitations around where I live)- thank you for your blog!

Anonymous said...

"After cleaning the rusted area with a soft brush, boil used tea bags or tea leaves. The tannic acid from the tea will react naturally with the iron, producing a black seal, covering the rusted area. This will also prevent the recurrence of rust. Rust from the pot is non-toxic, so it will be safe to use."


onjour.iu said...


Je possède cette tetsubin (voir plus bas) depuis quelques années (émaillée à l'intérieur) et m'en servais pour faire le thé — tous, sans exception, mais particulièrement rouge (généralement nommé noir en Occident) et bleu, même du vert parfois. J'ai fini par abandonner ce système pour le boire en zhong.

Ma question est la suivante : quel est cet amas jaunâtre au fond de cet objet ? Du calcaire ou des dépôts minéraux ? Si oui, je suppose qu'il est plutôt recommandé de les retirer non ?

Question subsidiaire : puis-je — pour autant que je la nettoie correctement — l'utiliser comme bouilloire à eau, histoire de me débarrasser de ma bouilloire électrique ou est-ce que les dommages sont irréversibles et que l'eau ne sera jamais meilleure dans un tel état ?

Merci d'avance pour vos réponses, voici deux images du problème :


TeaMasters said...

Si tu t'en servais pour infuser tes thés, ce dépôt est lié au thé et à l'eau. Résidus de thés et peut-être aussi calcaire.
Avant de la nettoyer, je te conseille plutôt de l'essayer comme bouilloire tel quel. Au bout de quelques fois, le goût devrait disparaitre. A toi de voir comment sort l'eau, si elle a bon goût.