How to use and care for cast iron teapots, (tips, benefits, restoration).

Large selection of cast iron teapots

Do you start your morning with a nice hot cup of tea? Or maybe, you’re like me and like to unwind and relax with a cuppa at the end of the day. But how do you make that perfect cuppa? If you want to brew tea like a pro at home, you’ll need the right equipment. In my opinion, that’s a cast iron teapot.  

You could choose a ceramic teapot such as the traditional English Brown Betty which is a great teapot by the way but you might prefer the look of a traditional Japanese cast iron teapot. Not only do cast-iron teapots keep your tea hot they also look great. That’s why many proud owners display their teapot when not in use.

If you’re new to Japanese cast iron teapots they come in a variety of beautiful traditional designs as well as modern designs such as cherry blossoms and dragonflies. Again cast iron teapots are not only beautiful, but they are also durable and can last for many years. With the right care, a cast iron teapot can be an heirloom that you pass down through the generations. 

Use, clean, restore your cast iron teapot with Boonie Hicks
Brett Standeven (Boonie) posing for the camera with my little cast iron teapot.

The history of cast iron tea kettles and teapots 

The use of cast iron kettles dates back to the early 17th century when they were first used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, called Chadō. These ceremonies are rooted in the Zen philosophy of harmony and inner peace.

Some ceremonies can last as long as four hours and represented the utmost in hospitality. Everything is centered on the “guests” enjoyment of the tea. Furthermore, the aesthetics of these ceremonies are just as important as the tea. Which is why intricately-designed cast iron tetsubins are used. 

To learn more about the origins of Japanese Cast iron or Nanbu Tekki check out this article at Boonie Hicks.

Japanese teapots, on the other hand, are a newer development and way to enjoy your tea. Today, you can boil your water in a modern kettle which quick to bring to boil but brew it in an easy to clean enameled teapot.

Cast iron Chagama in a Japanese teahouse
Before the invention of the Tetsubin, the Chagama was the primary way to heat water in Japan. However, today it is mainly used in tea ceremonies.

Benefits of cast iron teapots 

Cast iron has experienced a resurgence in popularity because people are learning about the benefits that cast iron offers. Cast iron is probably the only piece of kitchenware that improves over time and cast-iron teapot are no different. Here are some of the benefits of cast iron teapots.

It keeps your tea hot  

Cast iron is very heavy. Because of this, the material has great thermal density, which retains heat very well. Compared to glass, stainless steel, and ceramic teapots, cast iron tea kettles maintain their heat much longer. The material also evenly heats your tea, which helps with the brewing process. 

Tea tastes better in cast iron 

Many tea experts use cast iron kettles and teapots to make the perfect cuppa. That is because they know that these vessels make for a better tea experience. There are several reasons which are:

The enamel in cast-iron teapots is nonporous which means teapots do not absorb flavors or smells which unglazed traditional ceramic teapots may do.

Also, cast iron’s excellent thermal density helps heat the water more evenly, and this adds to the complexity and character of the tea. 

Durable and long-lasting 

Cast iron teapots could potentially last forever if cared for properly. You may never need to buy another teapot ever. Cast iron only gets better with time because they build up character over time. Cast iron teapots are virtually unbreakable and resistant to cracking and also chipping. This is an heirloom that you could easily pass down through the generations.

Enameled teapots don’t absorb flavors 

As mentioned earlier enameled teapots do not absorb smells. When you brew a pot of tea, the only odor that you want to smell is that of the tea. Cast iron enameled teapots do not absorb flavors or odors from previous use. And are easy to wash when you’ve finished. This means that your tea will smell and taste like freshly steeped tea.  

Cast iron teapot benefits
One of the benefits of cast iron teapots is the enameled interior. This makes cleaning your teapot easy and also the enamel coating is nonporous which doesn’t absorb odors.

Classically stylish and beautiful

Cast iron teapots that are designed after traditional Japanese tea kettles have beautiful designs. And these teapots are loved as much for their appearance as their practicality. They offer a stylish way for you to enjoy a cup of tea and make feel like a special occasion. Also, cast iron teapots come in a variety of vibrant shades and colors to choose from.

Japanese teapots are called Tetsu Kyusu in Japanese. These traditionally styled teapots are also lovely pieces to display on your kitchen shelf or bench. Teapots are also great for get-togethers and special events too. You can make great tasting tea and your guests will love your teapot.

A good value 

For something that could last forever, a cast iron tea kettle is a great bargain. You can get a great top-of-the-line traditional cast iron teapot from Zensuke for less than $100. If you would like to know more about the benefits of cast iron you may want to have look at two other related articles on the site.

Getting the most from your cast iron teapot 

Now that you know the benefits of a cast iron teapot, how do you get the most out of yours? Here are some tips. 

Know the different types of cast iron tea kettles 

There are two types of cast iron tea kettles used to brew tea. You must use the right cast iron tea kettle for the right job — because you could end up damaging it. Therefore to get the most out of your cast iron tea kettle, it is important to know which kind to use. 

Tetsubins or traditional Japanse tea kettles are used to boil water. These tea kettles are similar to ancient Japanese water kettles and also like the ones used in the Victorian era. They are formed completely in cast iron and feature a built-in swing handle. These tea kettles were heated directly over charcoal fires in many homes until the 20th century. Tetsubins can typically be used on gas stovetops and ceramic burners. Find out why are tetsubins are so expensive and how they are made? with our well-researched article.

Not to be confused with Tetsubins, cast iron teapots — or Tetsu Kyusu — have an enamel glaze on the inside which this article is focused on. These are the modern versions of the classic Tetsubin. Enamel was added to prevent rust and the size is reduced for modern use. Most Japanese teapots have an infuser, which is a device where you place loose tea leaves. Infusers serve the same role as tea bags and make clean up easy. 

Cast iron teapots should never be used to boil water for tea. You should only use them to brew tea. Likewise, they cannot be used over an open flame or on the stovetop or they could crack. You can learn more about the differences between the Japanese kettles and teapots with this article.

Learn how to brew tea correctly 

Are you using your cast iron teapot the right way? To get the most from it, make sure you are using it properly. 

How to brew tea in your cast iron teapot in 6 easy steps

1.Boil
water

First, boil the water. Ideally, you should use a Japanese kettle to
boil water.

If you don’t have a tetsubin, then boil water in a pan or kettle. I
would avoid plastic-lined kettles if you can as these kettles can
negatively change the taste of the water.

2.Heat
your
teapot


Next, preheat your teapot Pour warm water in your teapot
and let it sit for two minutes and discard the water.

3.Add
loose
tea
leaves


Then place loose tea leaves into the infuser of your cast-iron
teapot. I use the old fashioned one teaspoon per cup as a
general rule.

If your budget allows, try a traditional Japanese Sencha loose leaf
tea. However, if your new to tea drinking then a sampler pack
from Tea Forte offers a variety of teas from around the world.
But my favorite is tea Lady Grey from Twinings. Links take you to
Amazon if you’re interested.

Only fill the infuser about halfway as the leaves will expand. This
will allow for more efficient brewing.
 
3.Add
water


After the water boils, add enough to the cast iron teapot to
submerge the tea leaves. 

I recommend using approximately
200ml of water per one teaspoon of tea leaves.
  
5.Steep

Next Place the lid on the teapot and allow the tea to steep.
For steep times, check out the instructions that came with the
tea that you are using.

Let the water cool a bit first if you are using green tea. It tastes
best when brewed at lower temperatures.

Green tea also requires shorter brew times. Don’t steep green
tea for longer than 3 minutes. Black tea requires longer steep times
and higher temperatures.
 
6.Pour
and
enjoy


Lastly to prevent the tea from becoming bitter or acidic,
immediately pour it from the teapot or remove the infuser
and enjoy.

For more information

On how the make the perfect of tea using your cast iron teapot head over to this article which you can find on Boonie Hicks.

After you finish brewing your tea, take care of your cast iron teapot by following the guidelines below. 

How to take care of a cast-iron teapot 

To keep your cast iron teapot in good shape, you should use and care for it the right way. Here are some tips to ensure a lifetime of use. 

First use 

Before using your cast iron teapot for the first time, rinse out the pot with boiling water and then dry thoroughly. 

After each use 

After each use, make sure you do the following:

  • Allow the teapot to cool completely before drying. 
  • Next, rinse the pot out with warm water. 
  • Don’t use any harsh soaps or detergents. 
  • While the pot is still warm, wipe the outside with a clean, dry cloth. 
  • Turn the teapot upside down and allow it to air dry with the lid off. As many Japanese teapots do not have a hole in the lid to allow for air circulation.  

General care tips 

Here are some general care tips: 

  • Polish the surface of your cast iron teapot with a tea-soaked cloth. This will help prevent rust and it will also keep it looking glossy. ​
  • Remember if your cast iron teapot has an enamel lining inside, therefore it should never be used to boil water otherwise you might crack the enamel.
  • Hot iron could stain countertops and other surfaces. So, always place your teapot on top of a trivet. 
  • You might notice water marks or spots on the bottom of your teapot after a couple of weeks of use. These spots are caused by a buildup of minerals. However, you don’t need to worry about the spots. They are normal and will help prevent rust from forming. Plus, the minerals are good for your health. 

Don’ts: 

Here are some things that you should not do when it comes to your cast iron teapot. 

  • Use harsh chemicals to try to remove rust. These cleaners are toxic and can damage the metal. 
  • Above all, don’t put a cast iron tea kettle in the dishwasher. 
  • Pour cold water into a hot cast iron tea kettle. Pronounced changes in temperature can cause stress fractures due to the iron expanding and contracting. 
  • Place a cast iron teapot over an open flame or use it on the stovetop. It could crack the enamel. 
  • Allow your cast iron teapot to come into contact with salts or oils

How to restore a vintage cast iron teapot

If cared for properly, cast iron kitchenware will last forever. Both cast iron tetsubins and vintage enameled cast iron teapots which are damaged can rust if exposed to water for a while. Leave standing water in a cast iron teapot and the next time you go to use the teapot, you might notice some rust. 

Are you wondering if your teapot is still safe to use even if it has rust? There is no need to go out and buy a new cast iron tea kettle just because it has a layer or two of rust flaking off. It is perfectly safe to still the kettle. Interestingly some tea connoisseurs like to drink tea from a pot that has a little rust because the rust enhances the taste of the water. 

However, if you’d like to restore your vintage cast iron teapot to its former glory, you can do so — even if it has a pretty thick layer of rust. With a little TLC, your teapot will look brand new. Here are detailed instructions for restoring your tea kettle.

Remove rust from your vintage teapot in five easy steps

1.Remove
surface
rust
Firstly, use a small wire brush and lightly spot brush the rust by
hand.
You can also use a Brillo, SOS, or another abrasive scouring pad. 
However, brush gently to prevent scratching especially on the
enamel.
2.Add tea Next, fill the pot with used green or black tea leaves. Make an
extra-strong brew of tea.
3.Add
boiling
water
Add boiling water which releases tannins from the leaves.
4.Steep Then, allow the brew to sit and cool for at least 20 minutes.
The tannic acid will react with the rust and form a natural seal.
This helps to prevent rust from coming back.
5.Discard
tea
Finally, discard the tea and rinse and make sure the teapot is
completely dry.

What the above doesn’t work? 

If you have heavy iron deposits on your cast iron teapot, then you might try these tips: 

  • Try a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Let the solution sit for a couple of hours so that the solution can get to work.
  • If the vinegar solution does not work, you can also try scrubbing the tea kettle with a paste of baking soda and water. 

Final thoughts 

A cast iron teapot is a very useful and durable kitchen tool that can last for ages with the right care. To get the most out of your teapot and also keep it in shape for years to come, make sure you bookmark this page and refer back to the above tips often. I hope you enjoy your teapot. 

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