Tetsubin, or iron teapots, were originally used in the home to boil water. These tetsubins generally were not ornately decorated, as they were placed over a hearth to provide heat and humidity during cold weather. During the mid 19th century as infused tea drinking became more popular, tetsubin evolved from being a kitchen item to being a status symbol used to serve tea. Some of these tetsubin were even elaborately decorated with a high relief design or inlay of copper, gold, or silver.
The two region best know for making tetsubin are Iwate and Yamagata. Iwate is considered by many to produce the best quality and designs at a reasonable price. Yamagata is best known for handmade tetsubin and chagama, or tea urns, preferred by master of the tea ceremony.
To assure the longevity of your tetsubin please follow these basic guidelines:
- Use the tetsubin to brew tea, not as a stove-top kettle.
Do not leave tea standing in the tetsubin for long periods of time.
- Do not scrub the tetsubin with abrasive pads or use harsh detergents.
- Simply rinse it with water and wipe it dry after each use.
- Do not expose the tetsubin to salt or oils.
In Japan, a natural mineral layer buildup from use is considered to be good for the health and to help prevent rust from forming.