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Feb 22nd, '15, 14:37
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I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by futurebird » Feb 22nd, '15, 14:37

I've wanted a real tetsubin for a long time. Those made in Japan are very expensive, even the used ones-- and the used kettles are a risk since many have holes and rust damage if they are more reasonably priced.

Then I found this:

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Iron-cop ... 61811.html

This is a Chinese mass-prouduced tetsubin. After asking the seller if it was lined or not I decided to give it a go.

It came a week ago and I think it's working wonderfully. All materials are authentic. The lid is heavy. It heats water so sweetly. I expect it to improve with use. Before using it I boiled water in it a few times and dried it out to remove some factory dust.

Has anyone else tried kettles like these?
IMG_5453s.jpg
IMG_5453s.jpg (47.83 KiB) Viewed 1863 times

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Feb 23rd, '15, 00:15
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by Tead Off » Feb 23rd, '15, 00:15

You certainly can't argue with the price. It's attractive. The question that comes to my mind is the 'point' that Hojo talks about, 'Activation'. IIRC, it is a process that takes place in the casting, when the iron is extremely hot. Is 'activation' a reduction firing process? I can't remember. Hojo claims that this is what makes the difference in tetsubin besides the casting and aesthetic qualities.

Perhaps someone could remind us of this activation process and what it is and whether there is a noticeable difference between using kettles that are and are not activated.

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Feb 23rd, '15, 08:35
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by hobin » Feb 23rd, '15, 08:35

Looks like a good-quality testubin for the price. The Japanese ones would cost at least 200 dollars. The inside has been oxidised to prevent rust (like in many nambu testubins). maybe this won't give you the extra iron that a rusty testubin would add to the water.

Then we could argue about autenthicity and all the rest---but it's a fact that we live in a globalized world. In this case the fact that it's coming from china (a nation that in any case has a strong tea culture) could be a plus.
Last edited by hobin on Feb 23rd, '15, 11:42, edited 2 times in total.

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Feb 23rd, '15, 08:45
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by hobin » Feb 23rd, '15, 08:45

a few other considerations:

the mold used to cast this tetsubin has been used several times (in fact the images are not so sharp), but the lid and the knob (especially) are not mass-produced.

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Feb 23rd, '15, 10:31
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by chingwa » Feb 23rd, '15, 10:31

The "activation process" is a an iron reduction process. After casting the tetsubin is fired in a low-oxygen charcoal kiln and changes the bare-metal of the kettle from FE3 to FE2, which allows more interaction with the boiling water... and thus more positive effects on the tea. The outside of these kettles are often treated with anti-rusting measures, but in ideal cases the inside would be left untreated.

The tetsubin above, while it does look mass-produced in the actual kettle part, has a beautiful lid/handle which is hard to overlook :D The interior is treated, which is unfortunate but very common.

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Feb 23rd, '15, 10:59
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by chingwa » Feb 23rd, '15, 10:59

I guess I should say that the benefits of the reduction process are on the water itself. I've done taste testings between kettles and the reduced iron unlined kettle gives a more rounded body and slightly sweet taste to the water.... it's noticeable in the water itself... which then translates in the tea of course. Depending on the type of tea this can enhance either the body, or aroma or aftertaste of the tea. (or all 3)

If you don't have an untreated iron tetsubin, I still think it's better to use an iron kettle like the one posted above over glass or (gasp) stainless steel kettle any day of the week! :)

But I can only speak about japanese greens here, as that is about all I drink at home. Chinese tea in general and especially fermented tea may have different reactions?
Last edited by chingwa on Feb 23rd, '15, 12:55, edited 1 time in total.

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Feb 23rd, '15, 11:46
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by futurebird » Feb 23rd, '15, 11:46

chingwa wrote: The tetsubin above, while it does look mass-produced in the actual kettle part, has a beautiful lid/handle which is hard to overlook :D The interior is treated, which is unfortunate but very common.
The interior is not lined, is "treated" something else? It came with a rust warning for the inside. Must dry after every use etc...

The main issue was to get something that could go on a gas stove. This works great in that capacity.

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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by chingwa » Feb 23rd, '15, 12:54

It may be a matter of semantics, but lined and treated I would consider different things... (I edited my post above for consistency)

Often you see iron teapots being sold as "tetsubin" which have a thick lacquer-ish coating on the outside and inside to prevent rust and leaching. This is what I consider "Lined". They aren't suitable for heating directly and are meant as teapots (but are better served as paperweights).

Then there are tetsubin examples such as yours above, iron pots that are meant to be directly heated and used as water-heating kettles. These have anti-rust treatments on the outside AND inside. Once you know what to look for it becomes obvious from observing the uniform color. While treated, it's still prudent to practice safe water practices (i.e. not leaving standing water inside) as it IS iron and will eventually rust if not taken care of.

THEN there are the reduced iron tetsubin, where the inside of the kettle is left "bare" from the natural firing process. It's this contact between the bare un-treated metal and the water that lends these tetsubin their enhanced properties. The bare metal can be very sensitive and it's best to not ever let anything go inside other than water you intend to boil... even oils from your fingers will eventually work to destroy the interior. The outside of these tetsubin are often treated to reduce iron oxidation, but not the inside. In theory these kettles will rust much faster than a fully treated kettle, but the water enhancing properties are worth the tradeoff, and as long as they are cared for properly they will last a lifetime... or longer.

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Feb 23rd, '15, 13:15
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by chingwa » Feb 23rd, '15, 13:15

Just to illustrate the color difference, below is my reduced iron (or "activated") tetsubin. You can see immediately the interior has a matte blueish-grey color compared to the dark (and somewhat rusting) exterior.

You can also see in the closeups the obvious weathering from constant use and light rust spotting on the inside. This is from about 9 years of use. Par-for-the-course in tetsubin. I'm sure I could take even better care of it, but I use it multiple times a day, and it's a damn iron pot I don't want to "baby" it :D

Image

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Feb 23rd, '15, 15:50
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by honza » Feb 23rd, '15, 15:50

Buy chinese "tetsubin" from aliexpress is similar to buy cheap "yixing". You buy two or three cheap for "safe" money and waste the same money like buy original good one.
My personal opinion is - dont buy and use Chinese kettle and only buy Japanese original and trad. way made tetsubin from good dealers like Hojo. It´s cost a lot, but thing like tetsubin is for your whole life.
You never know if the chinese pot is safe and from good material. Here in China is tetsubin very popular and Japanese good ones are sell for 1000-XXXX$ , so Chinese make just copies of fancy models. But the point why they do it, is very simple. Is popular and is good for sell.
Tomorrow will be good for sell something else and no one care if this "tetsubin" is good quality or not.
Japanese makers do it whole life, and Japanese tetsubin is made for whole life.

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Feb 23rd, '15, 23:09
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by the_economist » Feb 23rd, '15, 23:09

chingwa wrote:Just to illustrate the color difference, below is my reduced iron (or "activated") tetsubin. You can see immediately the interior has a matte blueish-grey color compared to the dark (and somewhat rusting) exterior.

You can also see in the closeups the obvious weathering from constant use and light rust spotting on the inside. This is from about 9 years of use. Par-for-the-course in tetsubin. I'm sure I could take even better care of it, but I use it multiple times a day, and it's a damn iron pot I don't want to "baby" it :D
That's really pretty! You have surprisingly little scale. Do you descale it somehow?

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Feb 24th, '15, 00:39
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by chingwa » Feb 24th, '15, 00:39

No I haven't touched it. The only thing I've put inside is water for boiling. However I do always let it air/heat dry directly after use (I never keep water standing in it... ever... not even for a minute.). The water here in NYC is fairly neutral, and I put it through a tabletop filter before drinking or use in the tetsubin, which likely helps the scale from building up.

From what I gather though, it's preferable to leave any scale in the kettle and just not worry about it... especially if it's all from your own use and water source.

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Feb 24th, '15, 00:49
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by chingwa » Feb 24th, '15, 00:49

I agree with honza, in the long run it's usually better to spend more money, get a better product where you know the origin and pedigree. These things will last forever.

A couple years back I accidentally dropped my tetsubin from chest-height smack onto the kitchen stone tile floor. :shock: The sound it made was sickening and deafening. but when I recovered from my shock and examined the pot there wasn't a dent, or mark, or scratch, or any evidence of damage whatsoever. :wink:

The tile floor however now has a perfect imprint of the arare pattern on the outside of the tetsubin. :mrgreen:

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Feb 24th, '15, 08:33
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Re: I bought a tetsubin on aliexpress...

by Drax » Feb 24th, '15, 08:33

Better the stone floor than your foot, chingwa! :lol:

If I might add a "+1" for a real Japanese tetsubin, they really aren't that much more expensive (they can be, yes). For example, Artistic Nippon has had tetsubin available on the order of $235. Same size. Real deal. There's currently one for $315.

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