I just got my first ever tetsubin tea kettle!!! Testubin are cast iron tea kettles from Japan, and I have wanted one for a very long time. This particular kettle is made by Rikyu, and although I found it at Marukai, it is also available on amazon: Cast Iron Teapot 8oz – Black Cherry Blossom.
After following the pre-use cleaning instructions (rinse well with hot water at least 3 times and dry thoroughly prior to 1st use), I brewed up a pot of Maeda-En Gold Sen Cha for the inaugural steeping. Selecting the tea was no easy task though. Tetsubin, like unglazed ceramic tea pots, become “seasoned” by the tea over time, so it is best to use each kettle for a specific type of tea. By selecting the initial tea, I was pretty much deciding the fate of this pot. Oolong is my favorite type of tea, but I already have a dedicated oolong kettle. In the end, the tetsubin just seemed like the perfect kettle to devote to green tea.
I had never heard of Rikyu as a brand, but I was hoping any company that shared its name with the Great Tea Master Sen no Rikyu would be worthy of the name. I was not disappointed.
There is a learning curve with using the tetsubin, though. The advantage of the tetsubin is that it retains heat ridiculously well; this can be a hazard when trying to pour the first few times, figuring out how exactly to hold a towel to protect delicate skin while also not spilling tea out of the top of the kettle. Speaking of heat, I unfortunately did not think through how to remove the strainer from the kettle when it is hot, and there is another opportunity for burning fingers. I definitely need some tongs there. Finally, the cast iron tetsubin is a heavy little kettle. The added weight makes it a little more difficult to assess how much tea is left in the kettle when pouring.
The advantages of the tetsubin become more obvious over time, as the tea stays warm so much longer than in a ceramic kettle. Plus, its beautiful, simple design helps bring a little Zen to tea-drinking moments. 🙂