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Tetsubin. Really?

by strickmr » Jul 7th 11 5:07 am

I'm just curious what all the rave is about high quality tetsubins. I love the look and the craftsmanship of many of these pots are, but when used to boil water, do they really alter the taste of the tea enough to drop several hundred dollars on one?

Whether or not it actually does alter the taste of the tea, I'll still probably end up dropping several hundred dollars on one, but it would be nice to know what all this talk I've been hearing is about.

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by bearsbearsbears » Jul 7th 11 5:12 am

strickmr wrote:do they really alter the taste of the tea enough to drop several hundred dollars on one?
I have one I almost never use, because I find it does change the taste of the water and tea, and not always in a good way. But, I think this depends on the water you start with. My water has a decent total dissolved solids count before touching a kettle. Marshaln and others on here who use tetsubin generally use water with a lower count of TDS, if I recall correctly.

Also, I don't brew Japanese or other green teas often, and I've been led to believe that's where tetsubin have the most beneficial effect.

So my point is, I guess, that as with all things tea, YMMV. :mrgreen:

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by debunix » Jul 7th 11 5:17 am

strickmr wrote:I'm just curious what all the rave is about high quality tetsubins.
Not a lot of raving about them here, except in the form of rants about the wrongness of sales tactics used at a well-known tea store chain, designed to sell them to people who mostly don't have any need for one.

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Jul 7th 11 6:47 am
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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by IPT » Jul 7th 11 6:47 am

I love using a tetsubin, and it is more for ambiance than it is for water changing qualities. I use spring water and put charcoal in it, so my water is pretty nice. I find heating a tetsubin over a fire and sitting quietly waiting for it is just a wonderfully peaceful thing and a great part of a Japanese tea session.

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by debunix » Jul 7th 11 7:44 am

I'd call that calm, relaxed and steady praise, nothing raving about it.

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by IPT » Jul 7th 11 8:55 am

debunix wrote:I'd call that calm, relaxed and steady praise, nothing raving about it.

Sorry :cry:

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by strickmr » Jul 7th 11 3:25 pm

For those of you who answered my question, I appreciate it. The otherwise rude remaks weren't appreciated as I was not referring to any specific "rave" and did not think that was necessary to answer my previous question. I realize that people on this forum have discussed tetsubins in the past, but I was mostly referring to information I've found online about the enhancing qualities of having a high quality tetsubin.

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by tortoise » Jul 7th 11 3:45 pm

strickmr wrote:For those of you who answered my question, I appreciate it. The otherwise rude remaks weren't appreciated as I was not referring to any specific "rave" and did not think that was necessary to answer my previous question. I realize that people on this forum have discussed tetsubins in the past, but I was mostly referring to information I've found online about the enhancing qualities of having a high quality tetsubin.
I'm worried that you may have misinterpreted some harmless remarks.

Tetsubins, the good ones, not the silly bidness from Teavana, are a real trade to manufacture. Lots of skill and art and molten minerals are required. You have to understand that in Japan, tea has enjoyed a more central location in the culture and individual household than it has in the West. This makes it hard to understand the value for a westerner, and particularly for Americans (don't know that you are one) who demand that everything be the absolute dirt cheapest they can find. But given that at 200-400 dollars, a tetsubin costs only slightly more (average) than a hand crafted kyusu or yixing teapot. So, though I don't own one, I don't consider them to be particularly expensive.

Where you have to be careful is when a vendor really trumps up how gloriously the tetsubin enhances the taste. I don't doubt that it has an effect, but some vendors really oversell that point. If you want to pick one out, take your time and ask other folks their opinion on the one you are looking at.
Last edited by tortoise on Jul 8th 11 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by Chip » Jul 7th 11 3:58 pm

+1, there was really no rudeness directed at you. You do have to remember that any topic discussed on an internet forum will illicit frank responses, which are most helpful.

We can be passionate about tea and teaware here, and can be as dispassionate about wrong information/sales tactics provided by retailers seeking to take advantage of newbies by selling them a tetsubin teapot touted as the best brewing vessel... this is simply not true. So, your topic got caught in this wave of turmoil ... nothing more.

In your original post, I don't think you distinguished whether you are asking about a teapot for brewing only, that is lined with an enamel and will really not do much of anything to your water despite certain Tea retailer's claims.

Then there is the kettle for heating water only and is unlined. This will affect water. These can cost 100's of USD or more for a really good one.

IMHO, the kettles are generally impractical and are not good for brewing most teas ... and are generally too big anyway for a teapot.

The kettle, I can not speak from experience yet, though hopefully one day ...

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by thomas » Jul 7th 11 4:33 pm

I've been using a tetsubin for more than a year with very good results, knowing that I use low mineralised water and I drink mostly pu erh.

I think it worth the money if you want to get the best water as possible.
Eventually, the better way to know is to try if you have an opportunity.

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by wyardley » Jul 7th 11 4:34 pm

Silver is said to have some great water enhancing qualities. Unfortunately, pure silver tetsubins are out of most of our budgets, not to mention somewhat difficult to find.

As far as (unlined) iron tetsubins, I've never owned one, but they have good heat retention, maybe a bit more work to take care of compared to other types of kettle. Any material will probably have some slightly different effects on the water, but as others have said, I would be skeptical about exaggerated claims you might find online, especially if they're made by someone who also happens to sell tetsubins.

If you like the look or feel of a high quality, hand-made iron tetsubin, and can afford it, by all means, go ahead (personally, I'd look for an antique rather than buying a brand new one if I were going to spend a lot of money on one). However, I think you can get good results with other types of kettles (clay, glass, stainless, etc.). You will probably notice some differences in the brewed tea between different types of kettles; as far as which are best for you, that's a very personal thing - if at all possible, wait until you've played with one in person.

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by debunix » Jul 7th 11 5:14 pm

Sorry if my post came off as rude to a new forum member.

I was trying to make a point that among the tea drinkers who post regularly here, there is rarely much discussion of tetsubins--although various yixing clays, ceramic glazes, and filter pore sizes are discussed in great detail--because most of us do not have nor have felt a great need for a tetsubin.

The lovely handcrafted ones I have seen online are gorgeous, but the responsibility of caring for a cast iron piece that I can't season to protect from rust is more than I'd want to take on unless there was a truly miraculous effect on the resulting tea.

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by teaisme » Jul 7th 11 5:37 pm

rave? where? I haven't been to a rave in a long time...

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by strickmr » Jul 7th 11 7:47 pm

I apologize for my rudeness. Irony is great, I suppose. I own one from teavana that I purchased several years ago, but, as others have said, I came to realize it was much too large to brew any tea I enjoy.

Chip, I was referring to a vessel to heat water, not specifically to brew tea. I read a bit about the iron kettles on Hojo's website, which I've seen mentioned on the forum a few times. How are the quality of those? He also mentions different types of his tetsubins are recommended for different types of clay? Is there that much of difference in the water heated in different kettles?

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Re: Tetsubin. Really?

by Chip » Jul 7th 11 7:57 pm

Difference is very subjective ... from what members have stated. I would like to give it a go too, so buy two and give one to me. :wink:

The two sites I see mentioned most are Hojo and ArtisticNippon, there are others, but these seem to get the most attention from members.

Then there is the aftermarket, used. Katsuragi has them on ebay.