A Tea Addict's Journal

Water again

January 31, 2008 · 8 Comments

So I’ve been using the tetsubin to make water that I then use to brew tea. How has it turned out?

Pretty well, actually.

The tetsubin does make the water seem a little softer, instead of having that sharp edge that a stainless steel water kettle will provide. It also makes the water a little heavier. I’ve found that for my aged oolongs, which are my tea of choice these days, it means the tea comes out a little more flavourful. The iron ions or whatever are drawing stuff out of the tea. Today I had my aged tieguanyin from my candy store, and it came out particularly strongly in a way that wasn’t really true when I had this tea a week or two ago.

That said, it might interfere with certain types of tea, especially green teas, if the water is used for that. It will make the colour of the tea darker, and the flavour will be also darker accordingly. That might not be ideal in the case of, say, a good longjing where all you want is that light and crisp bean taste. You won’t get that with this kind of water.

One practical problem has been the size of this little thing — it’s a bit on the small side. Three infusions, and I need a new pot of water. That is a slight problem, and since boiling water on the alcohol burner takes forever, I need to go to the stove, heat the water up, and let the alcohol burner do the last bit of boiling. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the most sensible one. Curiously, the lid is actually very air tight. It’s fine when it’s on the alcohol burner, but when heated on the stove, it seems like the thing was never designed for such a high level of heat and water can start spewing out because of the lack of a vent on the lid (mostly because it’s such a flat thing so the spout is only slightly higher than the body). Pretty interesting.

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8 responses so far ↓

  • dorodango // January 31, 2008 at 9:28 am | Reply

    It might be that the pot is too small for your burner- I have this problem on my gas stove, with espresso pots. The spread of the flame is so wide that it heats the sides of the pot, and not just the bottom- this burns out the gaskets on epresso pots very quickly.

    Could the side, rathar than bottom heat be contributing to your problem?

  • MarshalN // January 31, 2008 at 10:37 am | Reply

    No, I don’t think so, as the flame’s just heating the bottom.  If anything, my guess is that the tetsubin is all too big for the burner and there just isn’t enough power to heat it.

  • mojesterX // January 31, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Reply

    I know that wikipedia isn’t always reliable, but if you read their article on tetsubins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetsubin) it sounds like tetsubins aren’t supposed to be used on stoves at all…


  • lewperin // February 1, 2008 at 12:11 am | Reply

    The iron ions or whatever are drawing stuff out of the tea.

    Well, you don’t want too many iron ions in your water. Here in my relatives’ apartment on the outskirts of Calcutta, the deep-well water has lots of iron, and tea made with it is disgusting: almost greasy in texture with a kind of rotten taste. It leaves lots of scum on the cup, too. Aquafina, bottled by CocaPepsico and available downstairs at the corner shop, makes a far better cup of winter-picked Darjeeling.

  • MarshalN // February 1, 2008 at 1:33 am | Reply

    Oh, I know what you mean.  It’s like making tea with Evian…. it’s nasty.

  • mulcahyfeldman // February 3, 2008 at 11:50 pm | Reply

    Actually the Japanese make a tetsubin specifically for heating water. The pots are larger,heavier, costlier but wonderful to use. They also make smaller iron pots for brewing only. I need to pay more attention to the quality of tea the water from the tetsubin produces. Marshal may be right about they’re not so good for greens but don’t the Japanese brew mostly greens and matcha? The sound of the water being poured into the tetsubin is also very beautiful. Lew Perin’s comment about iron ions is well taken but much well water all over the world is unsuitable for palatable tea even if the water is deemed potable, especially water with a high iron content.

  • MarshalN // February 4, 2008 at 12:03 am | Reply

    No, I’m dead serious.  Evian makes horrid tea.  There’s something as too much minerals.

    The Japanese do mostly use this stuff to make greens, and they’ve been using it for a long time.  Some of these tetsubins are absolutely beautiful, so they’re not a low-class people only thing either). 

  • Anonymous // February 4, 2008 at 3:13 am | Reply

    I also boil water in my Tetsubin.  I’ve heard time and again that this isnt recommended but I’ve never experienced any problems.  How would I know if my tetsubin is compromised? Has anybody ruined their tetsubin by boiling water in it? What happened?

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