Japanese Tea Kettles
Tetsubin vs Electric

Japanese tea kettles come in three varieties: Chagama, Tetsubin and Electric. Which one is right for you?



The Japanese use three different types of kettles. All of these have one thing in common: they are used for heating water. Here is a quick rundown.

Tea Kettles #1:
Chagama for Chanoyu

Chagama are  tea kettles used in the formal tea ceremony. The oldest type of Japanese tea kettle, it is made of cast iron and has no handles.

However, there is usually a place to insert metal handles on each side of the kettle, so that it can be carried safely.

During the tea ceremony, the kettle is heated over a hearth or a brazier, depending on the season of the year.

They are not commonly used outside of the tea ceremony.

Japanese Tea Kettles #2:
Tetsubin For Sencha

Tetsubin are cast-iron kettles with a handle and a spout. Originally, they were used for heating water and left over the fire all day to act as humidifier.

However, during the 18th century, it became common for Japanese to replace matcha tea ceremony by drinking loose-leaf sencha with friends.

The tetsubin was the preferred vessel for heating water for sencha, simply because it made the process much easier than using a chagama.

Over time, the tetsubin gave up its place on the hearth and was used exclusively for brewing tea.

It also became something of a status symbol, and wealthy families sported ornate, highly decorated tetsubin. Today, tetsubin often sport intricate designs, and the inside may be coated with enamel.

In fact, many tetsubin manufactured today are not meant to be used to heat water at all.

So, if you are looking for a tetsubin that can be used as a kettle, it is important to look carefully at the box and the manufacturer's instructions to make sure you buy one that can take the heat, like this Japanese Cast Iron Pot tea set.

Tetsubin Cast Iron Tea Pot Review

Japanese Tea Kettles #3:
Electric For Convenience

Of course, when it comes to convenience, it is hard to beat an electric kettle.

Japanese electric kettles range from simple models to ingenious devices like this Zojirushi Water Boiler and Warmer . This devices boils/heats 4 liters of water at a time, and keeps the water at a steady temperature so that you can have tea on demand all day.

Plus, this electric tea kettle has multiple temperature settings.

If you set it at 175 degrees Fahrenheit, the water will always be the perfect temperature for brewing a variety of Japanese senchas. It is built to be energy efficient, as well. Reviewers on Amazon praised its durability and convenience.

The only real problem that was noted was its size and cost - you have to be willing to sacrifice some counter space and some money, but almost all the reviewers felt it was worth it.

Electric Tea Kettle Reviews - Which Is The Best?

Which Type?

The chagama is really only used during the tea ceremony, so unless you are studying chanoyu, it is unlikely that you will need one.

A tetsubin is a good choice if you are looking for a traditional Japanese kettle that will last a long time and is reasonably priced.

Of course, if you drink a lot of tea and coffee, an electric kettle offers the most convenience.

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