Tetsubins… Past to Present
The rich history of the tetsubin teapot is thought to have begun when the popular Japanese tea sencha was introduced to their tea culture. Before this the more commonly drank tea was a fine ground matcha, which revolved around a more formal tea ceremony. When the Japanese people began consuming more sencha in the 18th century, tea preparation became more relaxed and required new tools. Traditionally, tetsubin pots were made entirely of cast iron and heated by putting the pot directly over a wood fire. The cast iron was durable and held heat incredibly well, making it a no-hassle, affordable pot for the Japanese tea culture. Because the water was boiled directly in the pot, it was said to enhance the flavor of the water and help infuse iron into the people’s diet, which was very beneficial for many people suffering from anemia. Although the tetsubin was born out of necessity, it also became an important tool for the chanoyu tea ceremony and is often used when chanoyu is performed outdoors. Chanoyu has been referred to as the “Japanese Tea Ceremony” for many years but the word literally means hot water for tea.
As tetsubin pots gained popularity, they became more artisan in their design. Many pots are elaborately decorated with ornamental relief designs that carry powerful symbolism. It is thought that the more ornate the design, the higher the price of the pot. Today most tetsubin pots are enameled inside for easier brewing and cleaning, and although they cannot go directly inot the fire, they hold heat beautifully and are perfect for your favorite Japanese green tea.
The Tea Spot is excited to add this traditional tea instrument to our Steepware offerings. It is available in both a beautiful hobnail-textured brown, or a vibrant blue dragonfly design, which is a common Japanese symbol for change and happiness. I’ll be using my new tetsubin to steep up my personal favorite – 88th Night. Every warm sip helps me feel grounded, and connects me to the fascinating tea culture of Japan.