Are you a tea lover that wants to make Japanese tea in the traditional way? Do you want to maximize the experience? Then consider Japanese cast-iron teapots! Japanese cast-iron teapots offer several unique advantages, such as imparting extra flavor to your tea, heating quickly, and retaining heat for longer. They’re also intricately designed, and some are even beautiful enough to be gifted or served during parties. They can also add an extra layer of authenticity to your green tea, helping set the mood when you want to enjoy a quiet cup of tea.
The right teapot for you will depend on its type, size, and various other factors. To help you decide, we’ve compiled a list of the best 4 cast-iron Japanese teapots online. Our favorite is Kitsusako’s Nanbu Tekki Teapot because of the quality of its ironware and its convenient size. Continue reading to see what else we recommend, and be sure to check out the buying guide!
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Japanese cast-iron teapots have a long history, with their origins dating back to around the late 17th to early 18th century, and have since become a long-standing staple in the art of Japanese tea ceremony. Designs can range from simple and plain to decorative and embellished, with earlier teapots usually being the former, gradually incorporating more design elements from the 19th century.
The Tohoku region is well-known for cast iron production, and cities such as Yamagata, Morioka, and Mizusawa are notable producers. Morioka city is especially famous for producing ironware known as "Nambu tekki." It's known for its rust resistance, longevity, insulation, and heat distribution.
Japanese cast-iron teapots, similar to cast-iron skillets, can be used for generations if cared for properly and can make your Japanese tea, like green tea or hojicha, taste better, thanks to their properties.
Japanese cast-iron teapots come in two variants, tetsubin and tetsukyusu. While both are made of cast iron, they have different uses and features, such as the following:
There is a lot to consider when purchasing a Japanese-style cast iron teapot, including the style, capacity, and handle design.
Tetsubins are not coasted with enamel on the inside. However, they may be glazed with urushi lacquer, a coloring material that also aids in preventing corrosion. The lack of enamel means that tetsubins can be heated directly on the stovetop.
However, tetsubins are not meant for brewing tea. Tetsubins are used to boil water, and the tea is brewed in a different vessel. This means that you can also use a tetsubin to make hot water for coffee or instant noodles!
Usually, water molecules attach to each other, giving water its plain taste. In a tetsubin, water molecules bond with the cast iron's metal ions. These bonds affect the viscosity and surface tension of the water, resulting in a stronger water taste. Our mouths interpret this flavor as deeper, sweeter, and longer-lasting.
Additionally, research has proven that cooking foods for a long time in cast iron skillets increased the iron content significantly. Therefore, boiling water in a tetsubin may also leave traces of iron in the water, which may be beneficial for those with a deficiency.
Tetsubins can last a long time if maintained properly. However, they will develop red and white spots as a result of calcium carbonate buildup. Though it's visually scary, this is actually a good sign! This buildup contributes to the taste while preventing rust.
We recommend going for at least a mid-range size as most manufacturers urge drinkers not to fill over 70 percent of the total capacity to prevent spills when boiling. However, keep in mind that cast iron is heavy, so larger teapots may be more difficult to pour.
For handles, most are made from the same iron material as the body. Some handles may get hot if the teapot is heated directly on the stove, particularly when heated for a long time. Some teapots, especially manufactured tetsukyusus, use anti-scalding material such as twine to prevent burns.
Some teapots also come in a set with additional items like matching tea cups, saucers, trivets, and even lid holders. If you plan on gifting a teapot to someone or if you want to impress your guests, consider going for a complete set.
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Nanbu Tekki Teapot
Best All-Around Tetsubin for Small Groups
Best Classic Nambu Tetsubin
Octagonal Iron Pot
Best Cast Iron Teapot with a Unique Shape
Cast Iron Hakone Teapot
Best Large-Capacity Cast Iron Teapot
This is a non-enameled Nambu cast iron teapot, a type of ironware known for its craftsmanship. It has a 3.4 cup capacity, making it an excellent tetsubin choice for one person. It also comes with a trivet that has feet made of rubber, which prevents it from slipping.
Some reviewers commented that the knob can get hot, making it dangerous to touch. However, others were impressed by how the water tasted milder than electric tea kettles. Many also felt that it was a solid tetsubin for first-time buyers.
This tortoiseshell-style teapot is made in Iwate, one of the most famous areas for cast iron in Japan. It has a thick bottom, which is good for preventing deformations. Due to the quality of the materials used, this teapot is quite heavy.
Since the instructions are in Japanese, this teapot may be best suited for those who have experience in owning a tetsubin. Overall, however, most loved the quality craftsmanship and compact size. Some also commented that it holds up to continued use very well!
Moreido’s cast iron teapot is uniquely octagonal shape, which may appeal to those who prefer modern design. It's stovetop-safe, and the inside of the pot is coated with urushi lacquer to prevent corrosion.
Some reviewers commented that this kettle is quite heavy. In spite of this, many appreciated the unique design and compact size. They also reported that it makes delicious mild-tasting water.
This cast iron teapot is made by Old Dutch and has a large capacity that's perfect for groups or families. Plus, the interior is coated with enamel for easier maintenance.
Some product descriptions say it's stovetop-safe; however, due to the enamel, we don't recommend this. Overall, most reviewers were glad to find a cast iron pot of this size, confirming that it's great for avid tea-drinkers. They also liked that it's easy to use and clean.
What's a teapot without tea? Now that you've got your Japanese cast-iron teakettle, it's time to look at the best Japanese teas to brew with it. Check out our buying guides and top picks from the links below.
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