Monday, 23 July 2012

Tetsubin Adventures - Part II: Dissolved Solids

The first thing I notice when I take a sip of hot water poured from my freshly boiled tetsubin is the texture. It's thick and coats the mouth in way different from any tea; something approaching mineral water, but that comparison, much like declaring a dried apricot to be similar to a fresh cherry, doesn't really do it justice. However, just as cherries and apricots are related in spite of their differences, so are mineral and tetsubin water: both owe what makes them special to dissolved ions (mainly iron, in the case of the tetsubin).

Ions, being charged particles, dissolve quite readily in water and interact with it more closely than do oils, such as may be found in tea. It's for that reason that the change in texture produced by the kettle is different from one that tea could produce (less gloopy, more viscous), but for other reasons that are beyond me, the particular changes my tetsubin produces work together with certain teas to create a greater seamless whole.

The second thing I notice is a metallic, sweet taste. It's faint and fleeting, but it's there. After swallowing the water, the initial texture remains, but distilled. There's no longer a solution of ions swishing over my tongue, but the particles that happened upon my palette and stayed there continue to create a feeling of substance. I'm tempted to describe the water as having a slightly earthy and lengthy aftertaste, but the use of these qualifiers would be inaccurate as there is, in fact, no taste.

In all, the result is much more like a liquified canvas than any stone fruit or mineral water. With a thick textured and tight weave, the water has substance without conveying any particular artistic intent or message. Not entirely impartial, robust paints and thick brush strokes as well as careful but strong detailing will be lent added impact, while pale watercolours will all be muted as they soak into the fabric. An often overlooked part of any painting, without its texture a reproduction will never have the same depth of character as the original. With the right tea and a skillful brewer, this kettle can truly create a work of art.


  1. Ahhh!! That may have been why the Cha Yi cooked oolong we tried at your place had that sweet aftertaste! I had noticed that it tasted different with my stainless boiler.

  2. Hi Simon, that could well be the case. I've noticed this kettle overwhelmingly boosts the aftertaste at the slight expense of the aromas in a way that less porous materials don't. It's a subtlety, but one that I enjoy.

    Thanks for your comment!

    - Eugenius