Tetsubin (Cast Iron)

Sphere Electric Blue Tetsubin Teapot from Joyce Chen In Japan, the focus on tea and its culture are centered on the procedures of chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony. The importance of the esthetics and surroundings to create a sense of inner peace and serenity is key in this ceremony. Attention to detail including the utensils used to prepare the tea reflects directly on the host social status.

It is believed that Tetsubin was first used in Japan in the mid 17th century. Prior to this time tea was consumed in the form of a powder called Matcha. China had now introduced Sencha, using tealeaves instead of the powder, and this practice became popular.

During the 18th century tea drinking became regular practice among ordinary people throughout Japan, and Sencha was the informal way to drink tea with family and friends, Chinese accompaniments were expensive and hard to come by creating a market for Japanese tea ware, Tetsubin was born.

It is thought that these teapots were crafted in the likeness of kettles that were all ready in use; the most common was called Yakkan. The Yakkan was crafted in copper. Tea enthusiast believed that tea brewed in an iron kettle was much more desirable. Through this century Tetsubin was a common household necessity. In the 19th century the teapot became more of a status symbol. Pots became more elaborate and intricate in design and reflected the class, real or desired, of its owner. Elaborate Tetsubin became thought of as works of art.

The designs and shapes of Tetsubin are beautifully simple. These pots represent an important aspect of Japanese culture and history. The Tetsubin has long been valued as not only the perfect tea brewing vessel but also a highly regarded collectable. These pots are hand-cast by master artists in Japan through a painstakingly slow process involving as many as 40 steps.

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