Exploring Tetsubin: A Comprehensive Guide with Selection Tips

What is Tetsubin ?

It brings simplicity and spiritual richness to our lives.

Tetsubin is a cast iron utensil used to boil water. It evolved from the tea kettle and is characterized by its spout and handle. They come in a variety of shapes, including round, tubular, and flat round, and some are decorated with decorative hail or patterns. Basically, they are used for brewing tea, and many tea drinkers may have used them before.

Have you ever felt a difference in taste when tasting tea at home compared to tasting it at a restaurant? That may be because there is a difference in the tea utensils used to brew tea. In addition to the tea leaves, the way the tea is brewed and the tea utensils (kyusu and teacups) used are thought to have an impact on the taste of tea. One of these tea utensils is the tetsubin. By paying attention to the tetsubin, the tea you enjoy at home may taste even better.

Incidentally, in Japan, the Nanbu tetsubin, manufactured in Iwate Prefecture, is particularly famous, and its high quality and design that mixes tradition and modernity make it a recommended tetsubin for tea enjoyment.

Why is tea brewed in an iron kettle so delicious?

It is said that water brewed in an iron kettle becomes mellow and tasty. This is because when the water is boiled, the chlorine in the tap water is removed, resulting in a mellow taste. Another great point is that the iron contained in the tetsubin dissolves into the hot water, making the water rich in iron. This helps to replenish the iron content, and the water tastes better than water boiled in a regular kettle because it tastes better.

Not only for those who love to drink white water and tea, but also for tea, coffee, and other beverages, the taste is enhanced when brewed with hot water prepared in an iron kettle. Simply using an iron kettle to boil water in your daily life will enhance the quality of the water when you take a breather.

What is the origin and tradition of tetsubin?

There are various theories about the origin of tetsubin, but one theory is that they originated at about the same time as the tea ceremony. When they were first made, they were called "tetori-kettles" and were mainly used for medicinal purposes in the form of a kettle with a handle<1>.

Nambu tetsubin, famous as tetsubin (iron kettle), was first produced around 1750, and gradually became popular due to the acceptance of its surface patterns and other characteristics. In the Nanbu region of Iwate Prefecture, where ironware was first produced, high-quality iron was extracted, and the policy of the feudal lord of the time, who had a deep knowledge of the tea ceremony, to focus on ironware production became the foundation for the development of ironware production.

Over time, as tetsubin spread throughout Japan, they became a common part of Japanese people's lives. Even after a period of war, when iron was scarce and production was not possible, the technique was passed down to the present day, and is still being used today in the development of ironware production.

What is the difference between Tetsubin and Tetsukyusu?

difference between iron kyusu and tetsubin

Tetsubin and tetsukyusu are similar in appearance and are both types of tea utensils used for making tea. However, they are used in different ways, and if used incorrectly, they can break or damage each other.First, an iron kettle is a "tool for boiling water," while a kyusu is a "tool for pouring hot water and brewing tea. In other words, while an iron kettle is used to boil water over a fire to make hot water, an iron kyusu is used to pour hot water and tea leaves into it to brew tea.

Because of this difference in use, an iron kettle can be used directly over a fire, but an iron kyusu cannot be used over a fire. Unlike regular ceramic kyusu, tetsukyusu is made of iron, so there may be little chance of cracking even if it is put directly over a fire, but the surface and inside will become brittle and rust easily, ruining the vessel.

How to maintain an tetsubin?

Since tetsubin are made of iron, rust may occur. Therefore, after use, be sure to discard all hot water in the vessel and empty it. If you leave hot water in the tetsubin for an extended period of time, it may cause rust to form or cause the water to become cloudy when it is boiled. To keep your tetsubin in good condition, it is important to dry it completely. To dry it, it is recommended to remove the lid and lightly empty the kettle or use the residual heat to evaporate the water.

What are the three key points in choosing an tetsubin?

It is difficult to know what kind of tetsubin to choose when talking about tetsubin. Basically, you can choose the shape and design according to your own preferences, but the following three points should be kept in mind when selecting an iron kettle.

Choose by size

The larger the tetsubin, the heavier it will be. If you choose a tetsubin that is large enough for three people but only one, you will have a hard time handling it, so please check the size of the tetsubin before purchasing.Generally, a tetsubin with a capacity of 1.5 liters weighs about 2 kilograms, so it is best to choose a tetsubin with a capacity of about 1 liter for use by one or two people, and a tetsubin with a capacity of about 1.5 liters for use by three or more people.For induction use, we recommend choosing a tetsubin with a base of at least 13 cm. When using IH, please choose an tetsubin with a base of 13 cm or more.

For more information on IH use, please refer to this article.

Select by the presence or absence of processing

Some tetsubin tetsubin kettles are coated inside to prevent rust, but this is not recommended. This is because it does not bring out the features and good qualities of the tetsubin well.One of the features of an iron kettle is that the material, iron, removes chalkiness from the water and makes the water mellow and tasty, which is not the case with coated kettles. In this case, it is the same as using a regular kettle, so if you want to enjoy the features of an tetsubin, we recommend that you use one without the coating.

If you are concerned about rusting, choose a tetsubin that has undergone a process called "Kanakitome," in which charcoal is burned inside to create an oxide film at a high temperature of 1,000°C or higher. This makes the inside of the tetsubin rust-resistant and allows for long use with peace of mind.

Avoid too cheap tetsubin

Tetsubin are cast iron kettles, which are made by heating molten iron or metal and pouring it into a mold. This manufacturing process creates differences in the way it is made and the metals used, depending on the manufacturer. The surface coating with lacquer used for the finish also makes a difference, but if the tetsubin is too cheap, it is possible that the quality may be low in this process, so care should be taken. It is best to avoid having a tetsubin you have purchased damaged and unusable in a short period of time, or having your tea taste bad. Since tetsubin can be used for a long period of time if properly maintained, we recommend that you choose a tetsubin of good quality with the intention of using it for a long time. For this reason, we recommend that you choose a brand made in Japan by a reliable manufacturer of high quality.