Monday, October 09, 2017

**REVIEW** Cast Iron Tea Kettle (a true tetsubin)

When I posted about the cast iron teapot that I was sent to review, I called it a tetsubin in the title. I did clarify that in the actual post, but I'm here now to tell you about an real tetsubin that I broke down and treated myself to. It was only $31, but still a bit much for my budget. Oh well, guess I'll just eat eggs and toast for a couple of weeks. This kettle is so worth it.

Some of you might think its's not as pretty as the teapot. I didn't either, not at first. As a matter of fact, I almost didn't get it. The price was great, yes, but I could only find this particular one in the black color. I wanted red (to match my other kitchen appliances and decor), but... I just could not find another kettle at this price that had such positive reviews. Now that I have it, I love it. I never want to be without it.

If you read the post about the teapot and tetsubins in general, you might remember the whole thing about the interiors being either enamel or non-enamel. In short, cast iron teapot interiors are enameled and meant only to infuse and serve tea. Cast iron kettles (or tetsubins) are not enameled and can be used to heat the water and serve the tea.
This pot is different from the other one in more than the enamel. For one thing, this one is slightly larger (30 ounces) over the other's 20 ounce capacity. The infusion basket is larger too. Most importantly, this tetsubin holds heat much better than the teapot. The teapot could (with a little help) keep tea quite  hot for for 30-40 minutes. This one kept the tea hot for about an hour. After about an hour and fifteen minutes, it started losing heat and going lukewarm. 
You know how you have to spend some time seasoning a cast iron skillet? Heating it in the oven with a bit of oil at 400 degrees for a couple of hours? Seasoning this was similar. I had to boil some tea in it and let that sit for an hour. Here, let me show you how the manual explains why:
"the tannin in the tea and the iron which dissolved by the iron pot will react to form a tannin-iron surface layer , so the cast iron pot will not easy to rust."
 The instructions for seasoning and caring for the kettle are adorable. I love that, even though they weren't written by someone for whom English is a first language, so much detail was included. That really impressed me.

It took a couple of hours to season the kettle and get it ready for first use, but it was so worth it. The instructions suggest using the pot often in the first few days. No problem! I already used it three times today to drink about 6 cups of tea.

It's not just the idea of having a particular kettle, but using this extends the whole process of preparing the tea. It feels comforting to take the time to enjoy all the steps. Before, I was just boiling some water in a metal pot and pouring it onto a bag. Now, I am boiling and steeping and taking care to get the right strength of brew. I think the Japanese who work so hard have also made relaxation into an art. I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety and adjustment issues lately. This tea making process is a nice, soothing ritual of sorts.

Now, while this interior is not coated with enamel, there is this from one part of the seller's description:
"Our Cast Iron Teapot Features a Fully High Temperature Oxidation Enameled Cast Iron Interior That Not Only Makes Cleaning Easier, But Helps to Prevent The Build-Up of Rust And Oxidation."
Before I received the kettle, that made me think that I would be prevented from benefiting from the iron. Remember that cooking (or boiling) things in cast iron is supposed to literally add iron to your diet. Well, I found another part of the description that took away that worry:
"The use of JUEQI iron pot boiled water containing divalent iron ions, so there will be spring water effect, which can effectively enhance the taste, very suitable for brewing all kinds of tea." (my underline)
Also, the fact that it can be used on the stove is a big clue, right? The interior of the teapot I reviewed was obviously coated with enamel.

This tea kettle ...

So, it looks like I have found m perfect cast iron tea kettle. I'm really happy with it and hope to get a lot of years' use from it before I have to pass it along to someone else. Once I manage to save up a few extra dollars, I plan to get a nice cast iron rivet to rest the kettle on. Ha! First, let me just get through the next month eating on a reduced budget!