If you've been to a Japanese restaurant and ordered the house tea, you may have noticed that it was served in a medium-sized beautiful cast iron teapot. Inside the teapot held a beautiful swirl of loose leaves, as well as perhaps some added herbs or brown rice for additional flavor. The taste was delicate, complex, and absolutely refreshing. You may have thought that such a thing would be impossible to replicate at home, but with our selection of the best cast iron teapots, you can get your very own high quality loose leaf tea and recreate the restaurant experience.
Our Favorite Cast Iron Teapots (AKA Testubins)
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Given that a cast iron teapot isn't a piece of complex machinery, picking the best one comes down to the following criteria:
The number one criteria should always be first and foremost, but the remaining two criteria are going to vary from person to person.
A common question is whether or not cast iron teapots are safe for the stove-top. The answer is usually no. Generally speaking, you don't want to boil a cast iron teapot on full blast, or even put it on the stove at all. Rather, you want to expose it to slow and gentle heat for warming. This is traditionally done with small candles, known as tea lights, in combination with a teapot warmer. Modern-day cast iron teapots have an enameled coating (similar to certain enameled cast iron cookware) and many manufacturer's warn that excessive heat exposure will ruin the coating.
This video explains a bit about the history and how the "testubin" evolved to be used for serving and steeping rather than boiling.
This means that you're going to be a bit limited if you're brewing a tea that requires very hot water temperatures. The above option should be primarily used for holding warmth. Teas that are ideal for steeping in lower temperatures may work. At the end of the day, boiling your water in a separate vessel is always going to be a better option, but there is room for experimentation to see what works for you.
Another thing to note is that induction cookers are safe options for some models (see demonstration in the cleaning section).
*Please be sure to follow all manufacturer stated directions on your specific teapot as it may vary from the above.
There are uncoated teapots available and we've included one at the end of the list. Uncoated testubins are not nearly as popular as the coated ones because they can develop rust if not cared for properly. Many users don't want to deal with the hassle of evaporating all of the liquid out of the pot after each use. This is a good thing to do for the coated teapots as well, but you're going to have a bit more leeway since its not direct water on iron.
However, many users swear by the non-coated ones as they can produce unique flavors from the iron. Some people also want to get the additional non-heme iron into their diet which is better provided by un-coated cast iron.
The video below shows someone boiling water on an induction cook-top and cleaning it properly afterwards. One of the important things about cleaning a cast iron teapot is that you get all of the water out. This includes doing the following:
Cleaning is going to be important for any testubin that you pick up. Non-coated pots are more likely to rust, so properly cleaning is even more critical for these. The video above says that you should never wipe down the interior, but other guides recommend that you do. As always, you're best off referring to the instructions on your actual teapot.
We've selected a bunch of cast iron teapots for you to check out. All of them are made of real cast iron so the main difference is going to be the size, aesthetics, and cost. As stated earlier, the last option does not have any sort of coating meaning that it may be more appropriate for advanced users.
Decorated with beautiful goldfish, the Iwachu teapot is one of the smaller options on the list, measuring in at 22 ounces. Like most iron teapots it comes included with the stainless steel loose leaf infuser included which can be accessed by pulling off the lid. You can also remove the filter and simply add some boiling water and freshly squeezed lemon.
The interior is coated with enamel which is actually quite common for teapots. Because you don't season the teapot like you would a cast iron pan, having the enamel coat prevents iron from leeching into the water which would make it taste funky. It also prevents the build up of rust. However you still get all of the heat absorption benefits of cast iron as well as the traditional feel.
If you're wondering what "Tetsubin" means, it's simply the Japanese word for this style of teapot. Iwachu teapots are actually made in Japan for the final touch of authenticity.
As one of the more colorful options, this Primula teapot measures around the mid-range for these types of vessels, at 34 ounces. The design is meant to be reminiscent of Japenese cherry blossoms which we thought would make tea time feel all that more traditional. As usual, the teapot includes the stainless steel strainer as well as an enamel coated interior. The manufacturer specifically recommends that this is not for stove-top use (but none of them really are anyway).
If you're going to be making tea for two people, the Happy Bamboo pot could be a great option as it already includes two cups, a trivet, and the stainless steel filter. It's can hold 18 ounces of liquid which means that its the perfect size for two, but add anymore people to the mix and the tea and it might be hard to share! The bamboo designs are consistent with the eastern feel of most cast iron teapots, but something about the minimalist design made it stand out to us.
This second teapot from Iwachu is pretty much the same as the first one. It has the same capacity (22 ounces) and same basic overall design. What we loved about this one was how the leaf pattern flows onto the lid of the teapot. For us it really completed the design. Black and gold are also modern colors which looks great when shown off on a traditional Japanese teapot.
For those looking to make tea for 4-6 people, consider this 40 ounce testubin as a potential option. It has pretty much the same features as the others, but is decorated with cherry blossoms which we thought was a nice touch for a tea ceremony.
Unlike the other teapots on this list, this Sotya 40 oz pot isn't coated at all, which means that it can handle far more heat exposure - similar to a cast iron skillet. It's plainly decorated, but still catches the eye with rough texture and beautiful cover. As stated earlier in the guide, uncoated pots have a greater capacity to rust and require extra special attention to make sure they're fully dry, but if you've got your heart set on the most authentic testubin experience, this may be a good pick up!
Hey! I’m Michelle and I write product reviews for ThriveCuisine.com. I’m always preparing healthy / plant based foods and I’ve developed a knack for helping people get the best bang for their buck.