The History of Japanese Cast Iron Kettles and Teapots
The history of the Tetsubin isn’t very clear, however, some historians believe that it emerged during the same time the Sencha leaf tea gained popularity. Sencha tea originated in China but was later introduced to Japan towards the middle of the 17th century. While similar to other leaf teas like green tea, sencha was never considered as formal as the others. It had become a tea that was shared between friends and family during dinner or lunch or other various informal settings. It was through this popularity of sencha that the Tetsubin began to be used more frequently. It’s believed that the current design of the Tetsubin was not its original 17th-18th century design but that instead the Testsubin was modeled after other tea kettles that had been prevalent during those times. Some inspirations of the Tetsubin are believed to be the Toyama and the Mizusosogi tea kettles.
However, the Yakkan tea kettle is the closet in design to the Tetsubin. Tetsubin kettles are normally made from iron while the Yakkan is traditionally made from copper. It’s believed while the two similar, the different materials used in their creation lend to vastly different flavors of the tea.
Tetsubin tea kettles became household treasure during the 18th century for making tea, however, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the Tetsubin went from a simple tea kettle to an actual treasure, now designed with elaborate engravements that showcase the beauty in its design.