The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle


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The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby databody » Oct 21st, '13, 21:00

Hi teachatterers--

I'm just getting started with tea (and coffee, actually) and am looking for a good and especially versatile way to heat up water without 1) altering its taste negatively and 2) putting my health at risk! I would prefer a lower capacity as I don't intend to heat up more than a max of 16oz at any given run. Strangely, this has actually turned out to be a pretty difficult search...(err, as this got long, you might prefer to cut down to "THE CHASE")

From what I've found on the forum, there is no electric kettle without plastic on the interior allowing water contact (if not directly, then by condensation). Please correct me if I'm wrong, though.

Coffeegeeks seem to like Hario's, Bonavita's or Tiamo's stainless steel pourovers for their precision in directing water flow. I looked at (actually, smelled) a Hario in my local Williamsonoma (WS) and found it had a very strong metallic scent. Anyone have experience with stainless kettles (particularly ones like these designed for coffee)?

I have lately been thinking that the optimal kettle would be ceramic or glass (or a cast iron tetsubin?) as these would be easiest to keep clean and would impact the water the least negatively in terms of taste and health. The guys at Teavana (I know they have a bad rep here) seemed to say that the tetsubins aren't really for stovetop water-heating use, though. The only glass kettles I've seen on the forums and in Teavana and WS looked gigantic for my purposes (heating 16 oz of water at the very most). The same seemed true for ceramics. Joyce Chen's model appears to only come in one big size. And I can't figure out how to order from that Lin's that everyone here says is the best (I'm on Long Island, NY).

Lately I have been feeling so hopeless about this that I have been considering just ordering an erlenmeyer flask and a grip from a labware company and using that. Is that _really_ my only choice?

THE CHASE:
Can anyone recommend a glass, ceramic or tetsubin kettle that is a good fit in size and function for daily heating of 8-16 oz of water for lots of types of tea (and even coffee!), that won't screw up the taste of the water or give me a health problem, and that will simply be a pleasure to use on a daily basis?
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby the_economist » Oct 21st, '13, 22:06

Stop talking to Teavana people, true tetsubins are stovetop worthy, but theirs are not because they aren't actually tetsubins but teapots.

Go for this:
http://www.amazon.com/Yama-Glass-Chines ... pd_sbs_k_6

The full capacity is 40 oz but you should not fill it past half the spout in any case (which is roughly 16 oz).
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby Teaism » Oct 21st, '13, 22:43

I have dozens of kettles from clay to silver, copper, cast iron and most of the electrical kettle which I tried over the years to satisfy my curiousity.

Eventually I use the clay kettle from Lin Ceramic for everyday tea ceremony. The Purion works fine for me and may fit well in your criteria. I use Purion wares for wine, sake and coffee too :shock: and notice some taste improvement.

I threw out most of electrical kettles as I can taste the plastic or steel or glass etc. I find the water boiled from glass and ceramic kettle "lifeless", not sure if it is the correct description, but that is the way I felt about it.

The closest I got to metal is the Japanese cast iron kettle (not pot) for Puer, Silver kettle for Yancha and ocassionally tin coated copper for flash boiling of water. Whether these options are toxic or not, I am not sure but I go by the taste of it.

I am sure many teachatters here have many different experiences to share on this topic.

Cheers!
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby MarshalN » Oct 21st, '13, 23:05

Glass would be the easiest - what the economist recommended would work. I used one before and they're pretty sturdy, and cheap enough so if you break one you can just get a new one.

I use a tetsubin normally. They're big and heavy, and not to everyone's taste. It probably also boils more water than you want from the sound of it.

Purions are fine, but are a bit expensive. I'm not a huge fan, but it has its adherents.
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby debunix » Oct 21st, '13, 23:13

This is perpetually returning topic because the variable temp electric kettles with programmable temperature controls are not all-metal inside; the all glass/all ceramic/all metal (true tetsubin) kettles aren't programmable to set temperatures; and the otherwise perfect kettle always pours awkwardly or is the wrong size.

I'm happy with my mostly-metal/some plastic variable temp electric kettles. It's a compromise that works for me, especially in the office.
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby theredbaron » Oct 21st, '13, 23:20

I use clay kettles, boil the water over stoves with an alcohol flame (charcoal may be better, but is just too much work).
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby Teaism » Oct 22nd, '13, 00:21

This is definately a perpertual discussion and also a perpertual thought in many tea drinkers' mind. Any approach can be wrongfully right or rightfully wrong...???...what am I saying ??? : :lol:

I think it is better to look into the criterias for selecting one rather than being conclusive in any choice.

You may like to consider based on these criterias:
1. influence on water quality e.g silver, cast iron, copper kettle etc
2. practicality and functionality e.g. electrical kettles, inductions cooker etc
3. your cost and budget
4. "I like it factor" - no one can dispute with you on this.

As for toxidity, no one can tell unless we lab test every piece we bought and that will be another endless endeavour.

This will keep you busy for a long time. There is no right or wrong in anyway you go. Tea novice or Guru can be as right as wrong or wrong as right :) depending on which criteria they based on....
....for me, despite dozens of tries, I am still looking for some kettles... :D
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby yalokinh » Oct 22nd, '13, 12:06

I prefer glass kettles because metal ones really bother me. I can't get past the metal taste, and then there is the issue of rust on some of them. Ive always wanted a Chou Zhou style clay kettle, but don't have the space for .
Hario also makes glass kettles but can be pricey. Sadly glass ones don't last as long, the one kettle i loved just broke :(

Edit: phone keyboard grammar mistakes
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby MarshalN » Oct 22nd, '13, 12:46

yalokinh wrote:I prefer glass kettles because metal ones really bother me. I can't get past the metal taste, and then there is the issue of rust on some of them. Ive always wanted a Chou Zhou style clay kettle, but don't have the space for .
Hario also makes glass kettles but can be pricey. Sadly glass ones don't last as long, the one kettle i loved just broke :(

Edit: phone keyboard grammar mistakes


Chaozhou clay kettles are really small. How can space be a problem?
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby 茶藝-TeaArt08 » Oct 22nd, '13, 14:37

As others have mentioned, this topic seems to come up with regularity. For myself I'd prefer to heat my tea over coals in a ceramic kettle or to use a ceramic kettle with an alcohol burner. But I have a 3 year old son and our tea room is carpeted and also not near the kitchen.

Thus, in the tea room I use a Bonavita stainless 1.0 liter Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle, model #BV382510V (http://www.bonavitaworld.com/docs/BV382 ... llouts.pdf). It works well, pours well, has only the tiniest bit of plastic inside of the kettle, is a nice volume (not too large or small, a perfect amount of water for a 10 round pour with a 150ml teapot, including water for clean up at the ean), is extremely easy to use and adjust, is quiet, etc. I've had the kettle for almost a year now, with daily use; it is trouble free.

If I pour on the tea deck in the garden then I use a small backpack stove or a gas burner plate (like the type used for cooking Chinese Hotpot) with a ceramic, silver, or Japanese iron kettle for my water, depending on mood and on the tea I am pouring.

The Bonavita is quiet and pours extremely well. The precision is amazing, allowing me to thin the stream to dribble from high if necessary. It's a nice product.
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby wyardley » Oct 22nd, '13, 14:49

I use glass a lot; cools faster / holds heat less than earthenware, and most convenient for daily use... I don't worry about problems if I leave water sitting in it for too long. I have a Chaozhou kettle and a Lin's kettle as well; they will influence the water more, and hold in heat better. I will tend to use them if I'm doing tea brewing where I'm really concerned about making sure the water is as hot as possible.

I use a standard Chinese style metal electric kettle at work (Tianyi brand)... it's possible that there's a small amount of some non-stainless material that contacts the water (around the seal for the coil), but I'm not really super concerned.
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby Muadeeb » Oct 22nd, '13, 15:28

How does the math work out on this? 10 rounds of 150ml pot would be 1.5L, more than the capacity of the 1 liter kettle.

茶藝-TeaArt08 wrote:Thus, in the tea room I use a Bonavita stainless 1.0 liter Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle, model #BV382510V (http://www.bonavitaworld.com/docs/BV382 ... llouts.pdf). It works well, pours well, has only the tiniest bit of plastic inside of the kettle, is a nice volume (not too large or small, a perfect amount of water for a 10 round pour with a 150ml teapot, including water for clean up at the ean
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby wyardley » Oct 22nd, '13, 16:44

Muadeeb wrote:How does the math work out on this? 10 rounds of 150ml pot would be 1.5L, more than the capacity of the 1 liter kettle.

People have different opinions about to what extent reboiling is Ok, and whether it's better to use all the water and refresh, or to top off with fresh water / reboil constantly, but if you're doing 10 rounds, you don't want to be using the same water the whole time.
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby 茶藝-TeaArt08 » Oct 22nd, '13, 18:16

Muadeeb wrote:How does the math work out on this? 10 rounds of 150ml pot would be 1.5L, more than the capacity of the 1 liter kettle.

茶藝-TeaArt08 wrote:Thus, in the tea room I use a Bonavita stainless 1.0 liter Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle, model #BV382510V (http://www.bonavitaworld.com/docs/BV382 ... llouts.pdf). It works well, pours well, has only the tiniest bit of plastic inside of the kettle, is a nice volume (not too large or small, a perfect amount of water for a 10 round pour with a 150ml teapot, including water for clean up at the ean


Good question! Since I am often pouring Taiwan Gao Shan wulong tea, the leaves unfurl a fair bit. Recently, my average grams of leaf used in the pot tends to be formulated by halfing the total milliliter volume of the pot, times that number by .10 to get my average amount of leaves. Half of a 120ml pot is 60ml, times .10= 6 grams of leaf. Lately I am pouring a gram and a half to two grams over that base number which would be, for a 120ml pot, 8grams of leaf.

When I pour I don't, after the initial heating of the pot, pour water over my pot. So I have the initial pot water that I only pour to half the pot volume (at times I am using water I drove two hours to the mountains to get from a certain spring and try to conserve it best as possible (75ml in a 150ml pot)). The first round uses more water, obviously, because the leaves have yet to unfurl. Once the leaves are opened I am not getting a 150ml of tea liquor from each round. Secondly, I don't fill the pot all the way to the very top when I pour. Also, an average pour is for me is 6 to 10 rounds, often stopping at round 8 or 9. For cleanup I use very little water and then rag dry everything clean. Generally it more or less gets me there or to the edge, in which case I can add new water. It has been quite some time since I have used a pot over a 150ml. More often I am pouring between 70ml to 120ml.

wyardley wrote:
Muadeeb wrote:How does the math work out on this? 10 rounds of 150ml pot would be 1.5L, more than the capacity of the 1 liter kettle.

People have different opinions about to what extent reboiling is Ok, and whether it's better to use all the water and refresh, or to top off with fresh water / reboil constantly, but if you're doing 10 rounds, you don't want to be using the same water the whole time.


In the teahouse in Taiwan we discussed this (water) fairly often. Many of the fellow students compete in rather rigorous tea competitions and were training for a year or more for certain competitions. In fact, the first 8 hours I spent with my teacher all we did was sip and prepare waters from all sorts of kettles, pots, cups, etc. and note the quality of many waters and vessels. (Prior to that I'd spent 6 weeks gathering different waters and brewing only water in various vessels and methods during my tea times each day.) For each of these training times in the teahouse we students aimed at pouring four "perfect" rounds. However, we took the teas further than four rounds often, staying with the same water, heated over coals, in ceramic vessels and produced quality rounds. The variables are many.

I don't bring the water to a full boil. I tend to stop "before the pine wind drops down the mountain" or at "shrimp eyes" or "crab eyes." The Bonavita very gently holds the water at heat and keeps it there stably, evenly. It doesn't so much "reboil" but rather gently infuses heat to hold the desired temp. It's not a matter of going back and forth from boil to cool. There is not a great loss of essence. Often I am pouring between 92 deg. C and 95 deg. C., depending on the pot and other parameters. As well, later rounds are of course, most often in decline, yielding toward sweet water the further they're pushed...where the essence of the tea begins to fenkai 分開. But I enjoy these rounds and the range of flavors and textures that arise there. And I do play with water a fair amount, taking it more seriously at certain times and less so at others. I keep in mind Su Yi Zhuan's quote: "Hot water controls the destiny of tea; if famous tea is added to excessive hot water; then with ordinary, coarse tea there is no difference. Therefore in boiling hot water there is old (over-boiled) and tender (under-boiled); in pouring there is the slow and the fast; not past either extremes are the limits of tea."

Blessings!
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Re: The search for the non-toxic and functional kettle

Postby 茶藝-TeaArt08 » Oct 22nd, '13, 23:22

Muadeeb wrote:How does the math work out on this? 10 rounds of 150ml pot would be 1.5L, more than the capacity of the 1 liter kettle.

茶藝-TeaArt08 wrote:Thus, in the tea room I use a Bonavita stainless 1.0 liter Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle, model #BV382510V (http://www.bonavitaworld.com/docs/BV382 ... llouts.pdf). It works well, pours well, has only the tiniest bit of plastic inside of the kettle, is a nice volume (not too large or small, a perfect amount of water for a 10 round pour with a 150ml teapot, including water for clean up at the ean


Muadeeb,

Thanks for the question. It got me paying attention today. I almost had to call b.s. on myself :oops: . I have just, from repeat experience, taken it for granted that one liter of water gets me through ten rounds in a 150 ml pot. So today I opened TTC's Dong Ding wulong tea and poured it my new Andrzej Bero 90ml kyusu. I would have used a 150ml pot but I just received the 90ml kyusu yesterday and was excited to use the new kyusu.

I poured a 1 Liter bottle of Fiji water into the Bonavita and set the temperature to hold at 95 deg. C. I heated the 90ml kyusu with about 40ml of water and used 40ml of water to do a quick rinse on the dry leaves. So that's 80ml used. After that I poured 11 rounds of Dong Ding wulong tea. Doing the math, a 90ml teapot for 11 rounds would come out to 990ml. One would think I'd be out of water. In fact I had a fair amount left over.

On my last pour (the 11th round, tea still good by the way :) ) I emptied the water completely from the teapot directly into a measuring cup. The 90ml teapot was filled with about 6 grams of rolled leaf at the beginning of the pour. With that leaf expanded in the pot, fully by the last pour, only 50ml of tea liquor came out. So, that's a 45% loss. Though, in the first round, with the leaves not taking up space and not retaining as much moisture, due to not yet fully unfurling, the actual tea liquor would have been more. But using the last round's number of 50ml of tea liquor coming out of a 90ml pot, I can use the same ratio to figure the amount for a 150ml pot.

So here's the math: If I am pouring with a 150ml teapot, using the same leaf and proportion of grams of leaf to pot volume as with the 90ml pot, assuming a more or less similar expansion and absorption, I should come out with a, more or less equivalent number. For a 150ml teapot that would mean that my last pour (the 11th round) would only have yielded 83ml (assuming the 45% loss noted in the above paragraph) of tea liquor in the 11th round. For the sake of the experiment, just to give a general number, 83ml x 11rounds=913 ml of tea. Or, 83ml x 10 rounds of tea= 830ml. Obviously the last round would have the most absorbent and expanded leaves and earlier rounds would yield more tea liquor. But one can still see how a Bonavita 1.0 liter pot could pour for ten rounds in a 150ml teapot/kyusu, pouring Taiwan, rolled wulong tea. Subsequently, many people stuff more grams of leaf in their pots than this to do flash brews so one could see how the 1.0 liter Bonavita could potentially service even more rounds of tea than 10 for a 150ml teapot, with water left over to clean up.

Lastly, paying attention today, I watched how evenly the Bonavita heats water. It's a slow, but not too slow, continuous heating. When it holds a temp. (today's 95dg. C temp.) it does so evenly; there is no "reboiling" of the water. I really do believe this why my water with the Bonavita does not seem to go flat. It's something I've not read Bonavita list as a strength of the pot but I believe to be so. The Bonavita is also very quiet and subtle when it adds in more heat. I noticed today that the Bonavita gives a the water a "trickle charge" when the temp. drops by 2 degrees C or so. Thus, it seems the water remains evenly heated. This seems also somewhat evident in that there is never an excess of steam or bubbling whilst the Bonavita is functioning in the "hold" mode.

Once again, thanks for the question. I had a great 11 rounds with the TTC Dong Ding wulong tea today and also an opportunity to bring new attention to a familiar space.

Blessings!!
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