A Tea Addict's Journal

Boiling with charcoal, part 2

September 24, 2009 · 5 Comments

So here it is

My brazier with one of my tetsubins on top.  Ideally, I’d use a kama, but kamas are a pain, because then you need all the right tools to use it with — from the rings you need to lift the kama up, to the ladle, etc, and using a tetsubin is just so much easier.

Last time I tried boiling water with charcoal it took a long time — almost an hour.  One of the problems was that the charcoal was not hot enough.  I bought myself a charcoal starter chimney, and it worked like magic — the charcoal was red hot after a few minutes and was ready to go.  The water still took almost half an hour to boil, but not nearly as long as last time.  I could’ve probably made it even faster if I used more charcoal today, and next time I might do just that.

The largest constraint today was the number of chasen available — one.  I only brought four bowls with me today, because I decided that with one chasen, it doesn’t really matter how many bowls there are out there.  With fourteen students, it turns out four bowls was plenty — by the time the first person was done drinking, the fourth person isn’t even starting to whisk yet.  Some students are quite good at the whisking, while others are learning the difficulties — creating foam, getting rid of lumps, etc.  With usucha, it’s not so hard to get rid of lumps, and I’d imagine with koicha it could be much more of a problem.  We’re not even going there.

Obviously, it is quite impossible to follow any protocol or rules when you have a group of students making matcha for the very first time (except one or two with previous experience).  Then again, they do experience the one thing that definitely happens when you drink tea in a group — you start talking, excitedly.  The caffeine, especially in the powdered form of matcha, can do wonders.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • coraxjk // September 24, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Reply

    this is excellent. thanks so much for the photo. fantastic experiment. i have no doubt they were excited over the experience.

  • Maitre_Tea // September 25, 2009 at 2:20 am | Reply

    I can see how you’re slowly turning them into tea drinkers…by showing them tea’s answer to espresso, with the extra bonus of some exercise! I also see why Imen’s goose feather fan would not work with this set-up…but glad you mcgyver’d a solution though

  • Rinpou // September 25, 2009 at 5:00 am | Reply

    This is a matter you must study, because in self-educated way it is impossible arrive to understanding many aspects of the fire for tea. First in your furo miss the ash. Ash is vital for good ventilation and the empty hearth is empty in all sense. You must prepare, wash and sift your ash, or you can buy it. Second: for tea fire we use high quality japanese oak charcoal, which don’t produce smoke and very effective calorific. Eventually, as alternative you can use arabic lemon wood used in water pipes, it is not so expensive. Third: you can and in external use must use preheated water. It is easier and you arrive to understand many details. Best wishes..

  • MarshalN // September 25, 2009 at 10:38 am | Reply

    @coraxjk – 

    Thanks for the kind comments 🙂

    @Maitre_Tea – 

    Yeah, using a fan will not work, especially since there was a light breeze anyway. Fanning in these cases won’t really help the heat.

    @Rinpou – 

    I know I don’t have the ash, but there are many practical problems associated with it, not least in carrying all of that to the location where we were having tea. As for charcoal, I am happy to report that the charcoal I used had no smoke whatsoever. In fact, when you use any decent charcoal, it should be smokeless. You only get smoke if you’re cooking food, or if your charcoal has additives in them. On the issue of preheated water though, I am not at all convinced that is necessary, especially since it is useful to show the students how long it actually takes to boil some water from scratch. I’m sure that if you were traveling to a mountain stream for some tea, you won’t be able to preheat the water either.

  • jasonwitt // October 5, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Reply

    Makes me yearn to be a part of one of these classes. Matcha would give me a rather fun experience socially, to get excited preparing and drinking it. –Teaternity

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