Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Nambu Tetsubin

I would like to wish my readers a Merry Christmas!

I am sure that you have opened your Christmas presents and smiling over your latest gifts.  I bought myself an Nambu Tekki tetsubin kettle for myself.  Come to think of it, I am have been too generous in gifting presents to myself.

This is the famous Japanese tetsubin produced under the "Nambu Tekki" brand.  The sticker on the underside of the lid as well as the  mold brand on the kettle will help buyers determine the authencity of this Nambu kettle.  'Nambu' literally means south region.  Nambu iron ware are produced in the Iwate prefecture in Japan.  Such iron ware are very popular in Japan and now abroad, due to the traditional hand making techniques used to make such wares.  

The kettle I purchased is a smaller version compared to my previous tetsubin purchases (link). This newest purchase can hold about 350-400ml of water.  I intend to use it for brewing tea in smaller teapots.  

I like to warn readers that if you are intending to use or buy a tetsubin kettle, you have to really take good care of it as it may gather rust if not dried out properly after use.  I had purchased a much bigger tetsubin but I have rust issues with it.  I would appreciate if there are any readers out there that can suggest ways to help me resolve my slightly rusty tetsubin.  

Why a tetsubin kettle?  Many serious tea drinkers I know attest to the softness of the water when the water is boiled in a tetsubin.  I do think (hopefully not imagining) that I detected the water taste a wee bit different.  Aesthetically, having a tetsubin in a tea brewing setup is very pleasing to the eye and it does make a tea session more elaborated than it seems.


ezorro said...

Its very simple, the issue with rust, the best is to put the whole kettle into water and boil with tea leaves, the rust and the overall of the surface will get black and a miracle happens, the rust is almost gone.

wilson said...

Happy 2015. Thanks for your suggestion. Now to find a huge pot to boil my 2 liter tetsubin.

Miguel A. Cazalilla said...

Dear Wilson,

I like your blog very much. I brings some good memories of the time I lived in Singapore (not all times where good there, though). I wished I could have enjoyed the local tea culture more when I was there.

As to tetsubins, I think rust is not a serious issue. In Taiwan, where I live now, there is a huge market for old tetsubins. When you peek inside, they are all heavily rusted and have all kinds of scale all over the place. Yet, the price is very high and the reason is that, it is believed that these old tetsubins make the water very soft and sweet compared to new ones.

I have not made detailed comparisons in this regard, although I own three tetsubins now: An old Japanese one which I inherited from my wife's family, a new Japanese one, and another new one made by a Taiwanese maker called "Taku". In fact, the latter had some serious rust issues when we bought it. It was impossible to get nothing but brown water out of it, which tasted so much of iron, and I was about to give up. Yet, after boiling green tealeaves in it several times (instead boiling the whole thing!), the rush became some kind of rusty scale and the rusty iron-colored water as well as the unpleasant taste all disappeared.

Good luck with your tetsubins, after learning from the local masters i am now convinced they are essential tools to enjoy puerh!

wilson said...

Thanks miguel for the kind advice. I shall do as you advised. Could you tell me how you heat your tetsubin? Over direct fire, hot plate or via induction? Thanks again

Miguel A. Cazalilla said...

Dear Wilson,

I use both induction and an electric hot plate (made in Germany by a maker called Rommelsbacher). I have never tried to use direct fire as I read in various places that it is not a good idea. My teachers here in Taiwan also use electric plates, although sometimes I noticed they also use alcohol burners with old tetsubins. However, this is something I do not want to try on any of mine, so I stick to electric plates or induction. When using induction, I use the minimum power.

But, to be frank, I barely boil my water in the tetsubin. Most of the time, I boil it an electric kettle and then transfer it to the tetsubin. Otherwise, it simply takes too long.

The only time I use direct fire is when using a ceramic kettle made in Taiwan. According to the maker it can withstand fire, which I think it is not the case for tetsubins (at least the modern ones, see for instance

By the way, nice Fang Yuan Pai pots! I envy you. In Taiwan, it is very difficult to find real early factory 1, 2, etc. pots in such good condition. There are so many fakes here! Only recently I got a factory one (I believe..) which came from Malaysia.

wilson said...

Thanks Miguel for your invaluable input. Buying a hot plate is very appealing and safer for tetsubins. I will seriously contemplate buying one….but 1st I have to de-rust my tetsubin. I will blog about it soon. Thank you for your contribution. Appreciate.

miig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
miig said...

it's been a while, but still...
There may be a confusion: A real Tetsubin, meaning an unlined cast iron water kettle, can withstand very high temperatures and was originally designed to be heated over powerful charcoal fires.
The problem is the enameled cast iron teapots, which can't take high heat. So, a real Tetsubin will not have any problem at all over fire.
Also, I, too would suggest boiling tea leaves IN the tetsubin. Here is good info about treating the outside: