Cast iron teapots are traditionally used by the Japanese to brew tea. It is believed that the use of cast iron teapots first started in China, which was later adopted by the Japanese, for making tea out of loose tea leaves known as sencha. These teapots are known as tetsubin in Japan. As heat is evenly distributed and retained in the teapot for a long time, many people prefer it over a ceramic teapot. However, it is essential that you take proper care of a cast iron teapot to assure the longevity of the teapot. When it comes to cleaning the teapot, you cannot use the regular cleaning techniques that you use for other utensils. Most cast iron teapots come with a protective enamel coating on the inside to prevent rusting. Here we are going to learn all about cast iron teapot care and maintenance.
Cleaning a Cast Iron Teapot
As mentioned earlier, a different cleaning technique is adopted for cleaning a cast iron teapot to ensure its longevity. Given below are some guidelines that you need to follow for cleaning cast iron teapots.
- Before cleaning the teapot, allow it to cool completely.
- Rinse the teapot with warm water, but make sure that you do not use any dishwashing detergent to wash the teapot.
- Strictly avoid using any abrasive scoring pad to clean the inside part of the teapot, because it might scratch and damage the enamel coating. This can lead to rusting.
- Once you are done with rinsing the teapot with warm water, wipe the inside portion of the teapot with a soft, clean cloth. Next, wipe the outside part of the teapot with the cloth.
- Place the teapot upside down on the kitchen counter and allow it to air dry.
- Formation of rust is a rare occurrence in enamel glazed cast iron teapots. But if there is rust formation, clean the rusted area with a soft brush.
- Next, fill the teapot with boiling water and used tea leaves. Close the lid of the teapot and allow the tea leaves to steep for about 20 - 25 minutes. Discard the tea leaves and pour out the water from the teapot. The tannin present in the tea reacts with the rust, which forms a natural seal that prevents rust from recurring.
Some other tips that will come in handy while cleaning a cast iron teapot are as follows.
- Always handwash a cast iron teapot and strictly avoid placing the teapot in the dishwasher.
- It is very important that you thoroughly dry both the inside and the outside portion of the teapot before you store it away. Even a droplet of water can cause rust formation.
- Make sure that oil or salt does not come in contact with the teapot as this will corrode the teapot.
- Do not leave water or steeped tea leaves in the cast iron pot for a long duration. It will not only stain the interior of the teapot but also cause the dulling and eventual breakdown of the protective enamel coating.
- Finally, avoid placing the cast iron teapot inside a microwave or on top of a gas stove.
How to Use a Cast Iron Teapot
Now that you know how to maintain and care for your cast iron teapot, let us take a look at how to use this teapot. The method for using a cast iron teapot for brewing tea is not very different from that of brewing tea in any other type of teapot.
- First, pour some hot water (not boiling) into the cast iron teapot until it is half full. Close the lid of the teapot and keep the teapot aside. This will keep the teapot warm.
- Next, boil some water for the tea. When the water comes to a boil, empty out the warm water from the cast iron teapot.
- Now, add tea leaves into the cast iron teapot and then pour the boiling water over the tea leaves.
- Place the lid over the teapot and allow the tea leaves to steep for 3-4 minutes. Different types of tea require different steeping time, so make sure that you read the instructions that come with the tea pack to know how long to steep the tea.
- Once you have allowed the tea to steep for the required time, pour the tea into teacups.
Before you use your cast iron teapot for the first time, you will need to season it to remove any odors from it. To season a cast iron teapot, all you need to do is pour some boiling water along with some tea leaves into the teapot and then pour the tea out. With proper care and maintenance, a cast iron teapot will remain with you for a long time. It will also retain its beauty, which will make it worthy of being handed over to your children, as an heirloom.