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Jul 7th, '11, 23:59
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Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by David R Munson » Jul 7th, '11, 23:59

On the train to and from work these days, I've been re-reading Kakuzo Okakura's The Book of Tea, and the following passage caught my attention:
The kettle sings well, for pieces of iron are so arranged in the bottom as to produce a peculiar melody in which one may hear the echoes of a cataract muffled by the clouds, of a distant sea breaking among the rocks, a rainstorm sweeping through a bamboo forest, or of the soughing of pines on some faraway hill.
My question is this: what pieces of iron? This book is the only place I've seen it mentioned, and every time I read the book it makes me curious. Is anyone familiar with the practice of having pieces of iron sitting in the bottom of an iron kettle? Do these things have a name? Can they be purchased?

Thanks. :)

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Jul 8th, '11, 09:43
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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by JBaymore » Jul 8th, '11, 09:43

Sometimes small chips of iron (maybe old broken kettle shards are the source in the past?) are added in the bottom of the chagama (iron ketle) on the furo or in the ro to cause steam to nucleate on them and create a pleasant sound in the tearoom. The little pieces "rattle" around on the base of the main kettle.

If you have been involved in Chanoyu you probably have noticed how profound the sounds are in the chashitsu. This is a way of creating pleasant sounds.

Personally I have not seen any Chanoyu "shop" sourcing them.... but they might be out there.

If you can find an old. damaged, worthless, cast iron piece..... you can whack it with a hammer! :wink:

best,

............john

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Jul 8th, '11, 09:51
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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by Chip » Jul 8th, '11, 09:51

Interesting, sounds nice.

Unfortunately, the rumble of the electric kettle is not so soothing, but it is sooo fast. Sounds (pun intended) like a metaphor for our fast paced and want it now society. :mrgreen:

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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by Drax » Jul 8th, '11, 12:42

Hrm, I know I've seen a teapot or two with a metal piece embedded/welded on the bottom interior of the pot. I think one description referred to it as a "singer" -- may be a similar idea?

I can't recall if I saw that on eBay or elsewhere, though...

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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by bob » Jul 8th, '11, 13:10

Interesting...

I've never heard about this practice, but here's a related idea: Could putting some iron or mineral stones in the teapot enhance the taste of tea?

Hojo and others claim that the main benefit of a good clay teapot is that it enhances the brew through high iron & mineral content. If this is true, then adding the iron/minerals into the ordinary teapot should also enhance the brew...

Could somebody with a very sharp sense of taste please verify this? I'd be very happy to hear the results... :mrgreen:

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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by David R Munson » Jul 8th, '11, 13:13

Thanks for the quick replies, everyone. It's the sort of thing that I hadn't ever heard of prior to reading the book, but as soon as I read it I knew I liked the idea. Not knowing what to call it, though, it becomes nearly impossible to find good information about it by searching on the internet, making it hard to find out more. I'm sure there's plenty of knowledge about this out there somewhere, but getting started is the hardest part. I'll be in Japan in a couple weeks, and I'll see if I can find out anything while there. Hopefully I'll find something. :)

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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by wyardley » Jul 8th, '11, 13:14

bob wrote: I've never heard about this practice, but here's a related idea: Could putting some iron or mineral stones in the teapot enhance the taste of tea?

Hojo and others claim that the main benefit of a good clay teapot is that it enhances the brew through high iron & mineral content. If this is true, then adding the iron/minerals into the ordinary teapot should also enhance the brew...
I've put mineral stones in my kettle, and in one experiment, in the fair cup, but not in a teapot (tea brewing device) directly. I think it would be kind of awkward with the tea leaves in there too. Or you could put them in a water storage container. In a glass kettle, they kind of thump around when the water boils... whether you consider that annoying or harmonious is a matter of personal taste, I guess.

See
http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=13567
http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?t=6302
etc

I would think mineral stones in an iron kettle might tend to make the water a little too heavy.

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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by JBaymore » Jul 8th, '11, 17:53

This practice we are discussing here is kinda' specific to Chaji.... formal Tea Ceremony. The water for that is always heated in an iron kettle. So it is not for that "taste" reason.....there is plenty of surface contact with iron for any water taste enhancement.

It is really about the sound.

Chip are you saying your tea ceremony kettle heats fast on the standard electric heating element used in a furo or ro? I know that mine does not. Takes a bit to heat it up. And it is rather quiet; it is only in a small and quiet tearoom that the soulds of the gentle boiling are strongly noticeable.

best,

.............john

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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by Chip » Jul 8th, '11, 18:15

JBaymore wrote:Chip are you saying your tea ceremony kettle heats fast on the standard electric heating element used in a furo or ro? I know that mine does not. Takes a bit to heat it up. And it is rather quiet; it is only in a small and quiet tearoom that the soulds of the gentle boiling are strongly noticeable.
No, sorry John, I was on a more general level. Plug the electric kettle in once, leave it plugged in, hit the switch to boil in a couple minutes ... accompanied by the rush hour sound of the water heating in the fast lane. :(

However I appreciate the enlightenment, and it tickled my sensory imagination. :mrgreen:

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Re: Iron *in* the pot? A question regarding Okakura

by JBaymore » Jul 9th, '11, 09:21

Chip wrote:No, sorry John, I was on a more general level. Plug the electric kettle in once, leave it plugged in, hit the switch to boil in a couple minutes ... accompanied by the rush hour sound of the water heating in the fast lane. :(
Ah.....sorry. Misunderstood.

best,

..............john

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