What is Tetsubin (Cast Iron Kettle) About?
The Cast Iron Kettle: called a “Tetsubin” in Japanese, has been produced in Japan for hundreds of years. It is traditionally a hand crafted object that was developed as an utensil for use in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. These Cast Iron Kettles are made by pouring molten iron into either clay or sand molds. Clay molds are used in the production of high-end artisanal Tetsubin products, while those Tetsubin mass produced by the hundreds using sand molds are destined for common commercial sales and export. The function of the Tetsubin is unique. It significantly changes the taste of water. When brewing tea using water boiled in Tetsubin, the taste of the tea becomes very mellow and sweet. In addition, thanks to the iron content of the kettle, the resultant water gives us additional health benefits.
The Tsubame city (燕市） in Niigata Prefecture (新潟県） produces traditional hand-craft called Tsuiki-Doki. Tsuiki-doki means the “hammered” copper ware in English.
The tsuiki-doki includes not only tea equipment but also sake equipment, flower vase and many other accessories. The artist beats the plate and forms it into the desired shape of particular equipment. Normally, the copper plate is laminated with tin. At the moment, the brands that HOJO is introducing are using liner made of 99.99% tin. In fact, they were not using 99.99% tin in the old days. Once upon a time people concerned about the lead in tin and this has affected the Tsuiki-doki industry. Since then, most of manufacturers had stopped using ordinary tin and swtiched to 99.99% tin. The color of the surface of copper ware is created by the fire. Depending on the oxygen level during firing process, it creates different colors. The copper teapot comes with filter that enables efficient filtration of most type of tea leaves. There are 3 main reasons why HOJO like to introduce this equipment.
There are 3 main reasons why HOJO like to introduce this equipment.
1. Great Performance With this copper teapot, the internal tin liner which made of 99.99% of tin significantly improves the intensity of flavor and the depth of after taste. It gives a very clean taste with smooth and “silky” mouthfeel. After you have drunk the tea, it does not leave your mouth feeling dry or astringent; instead it gives a lingering after taste that is complex and evolving. This teapot is suitable for most types of tea, unless you are a person who may not like to enjoy strong after taste.
2. Great affinity not only with most of tea including Phoenix Dan Cong and Wuyi Oolong It is known that to select a matching tea pot for Phoenix Dan Cong and Wuyi oolong is very difficult, in particular the Phoenix Dan Cong oolong that is produced from very old tea tree. In our lineups, there are a number of clays that does not get along with this tea. Nevertheless, we found that this copper teapot is one of the exceptions (besides Gisui Tokoname Red Clay and Ken Sado Red Clay) that can go well with Phoenix Dan Cong oolong and Wuyi oolong. It gives a strong after taste with lingering sweetness that lasts for a long time. This tsuiki-doki copper teapot also shows great affinity with Puerh tea, not to mention about green tea and Taiwan oolong.
3. Great affinity with Tetsubin One of the difficulties that I encountered when using tetsubin is that different brands of tetsubin has different affinities with different types of clay. As for tsuiki-doki teapot, it goes well with both Kunzan and Suzuki Morihisa tetsubin. In particular, the combination between this teapot and Kunzan tetsubin gives a very smooth after taste.
The maintenance The tin liner may get dark spot in a long run. However the performance of tin does not really change or decrease even if the tin is oxidized. Most importantly, after using the tsuiki-doki teapot, we have to leave the lid off and let the teapot dried completely. When the teapot is used for a long time, some layer of scale might be formed on the surface of tin and this will protect the teapot from the rust. It is very important to stick to one type of water for both brewing and washing. I have experienced that the teapot that is used by my friend for a few months, when I used it with my own water, it never perform as how it is supposed to be! HOJO is currently supplying the brand called Seiho-Do. This brand is ran by only one artist whose age is over 70 years old. Due to no successor, the delivery takes sometime if stock is not available in our inventory.