Gong Fu Tea Tips, Issue 4–The Kettle Part 1, Japanese Pure Silver

In the first part of our discussion of the importance of the kettle, we’ve put together a wonderful article on Japanese silver kettles.


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13 Responses to “Gong Fu Tea Tips, Issue 4–The Kettle Part 1, Japanese Pure Silver”

  1. Colin Says:

    Thanks for the insightful article.
    Can induction heating be used for the silver kettle. Will the water taste different from conduction heating?

  2. admin Says:

    we use German-made iron hotplates. They are great because they don’t allow an electric current to pass through the water. They have an element which is about a cm or so thick beneath the iron–it heats the air, which heats the iron plate. They have a knob and learning how to control temp. is pretty easy. They are also well-made and have no moving parts, so they last forever. I know several people/shops that have had them for decades and still going strong. I have had mine for about 5 and 2 years respectively. Unfortunately, the downside is that you lose one of the elements (Wushing) when using them, viz. Fire. However, for certain teas the benefits of the silver outweigh the loss of Fire. We are experimenting with iron sheets over the brazier. Also, a friend recently brought back a porous clay disk from China that can be set upon a gas flame, and then silver or iron kettles can be placed upon them. It basically disperses the flame which would destroy the bottom of the kettle–blacken in the case of the silver and crack apart in the case of the iron. That is another alternative.

    I would suggest finding one of the German hotplates, as they really are nice. Unless you are rich, then–like us– you have worked very hard to save up for your silver kettle. It deserves the best heat source you can find.


  3. Puer Says:

    First i’d like to thank you for an excellent publication. I’m totally new to tea and learning steadily.

    What great timing for this article as i’m looking to buy a kettle. The one that i was considering was a German Wesco stainless steel kettle, but after reading the article I don’t know if stainless steel is a good idea?

    What are silver plated over copper like?

  4. admin Says:

    A stainless steal kettle can be an ok start. Get into brewing tea and enjoying it, and you can improve the preparation slowly over time–changing the areas that you feel need changing. I started with a glass kettle, and always recommend them to beginners, if available. Glass is far more neutral than Metal (as the article suggests). Metals can potentially make or break a tea, whereas glass very rarely affects it either way. The other great thing about glass is that you can see the water inside, which allows you to begin using your senses to gauge temperature, rather than some apparatus which only hinders gong fu tea. You can watch the bubbles and get to know the sounds of various temps., as they correspond to bubble size. Also, different water qualities have slightly different appearances; and the way they pour seems different too. In this way, you can really get to know your kettle. From there I moved on to clay, which –like Metal–is trickier and can enhance or ruin the tea.

    I have indeed seen and used several silver-plated kettles. The students in Japan, on their way to learning to be masters, made silver-plated nickel kettles. These are indeed very, very cheap. Of course, the British also made all sorts of silver-plated tea kettles (and some solid) as well. The problem with these is that 1) the silver is never as pure; and 2) the plating wears off through use. However, if you can get one handed down, or for cheap, it may indeed be a good place to start.


  5. Puer Says:

    Many thanks Aaron for your reply.

    I actually thought about glass but i’ve searched extensively and not come across any glass kettles so far. If you know of any websites with them, would be greatly appreciative if you can share those links.

    I’m in the UK and the only glass kettle i’ve come across is this:


    I don’t even think it is real glass.

  6. admin Says:

    That is not ideal. That appears to be more of a teapot than a kettle. I will ask a couple friends. I don’t know many vendors in the West or what they are selling. I also have a couple friends in China now who may be able to help you. These kettles are dirt cheap here in Asia. Send me an email via this site and I’ll put you in touch with someone in China now.

  7. admin Says:

    BTW had a good friend say someone asked about the authorship of this article, as it is not mentioned. All the Gong Fu Tea Tips of each issue, if you hadn’t noticed, do not mention an author as they are all either compilations or interviews with masters. This article was written by four of us together, as well as a contribution of information through interview with Da Liang, a teacher and tea master who knows a lot about silver. After all the parts were gathered, we edited it all together. We plan to continue this trend of multiple opinons and/or interviews for all the Gong Fu Tea Tips of the future as well.

  8. moskital Says:

    Thank you for the interesting article. It’s quite a good piece of information to me. But there are some things I want to ask. When using metal kettle, the water with oxide comes from the kettle may combine with the acid in tea and result in salt. This firstly may not be good for the taste of tea and secondly will fill the little holes in the pot also, for this combination is hard to be destroyed, the pot may be ruined and cannot absorb the tea flavor anymore. Will this happen to the kettles above?

    look forward to your reply, thank you


  9. admin Says:

    I have been using silver kettles for years and never had any such problems

  10. Andrew Perzigian Says:

    Thank you for all the helpful information. I have a couple questions:

    1) Do you have any suggestions about where to find a Japanese silver kettle? How much to they typically cost on the low-end?

    2) With regards to the cast iron option, I have noticed that many are enamel coated on the inside. My understanding of enamel is that it is glass and thus essentially inert. Will an enameled cast iron pot work or is the article referring to cast iron in the non-enameled state?

    3) What about enameled earthenware, like many of the Traditional Chinese Medicine herb cookers out there? I have seen enameled earthenware teapots that can be used on the stove top. Any thoughts on these?

  11. admin Says:

    Silver kettles are getting rarer and rarer and prices are going up. There is a wide range of qualities based on the purity of the silver and where it was mined, the age of the kettle itself, whether it was cast or hand-hammered and of course the beauty and craftsmanship. I have found the Meiji and pre WWII kettles to have the purest silver and make the best water. The post-war cast ones are inferior. I do not know any good sources for them in the West, unfortunately. You are welcome to come stay with us in Taiwan 🙂

    There are a lot of different kinds of clay kettles. It is good to try before you buy in any case as clay can make or break a tea.

  12. Seth Wolitz Says:

    This question of silver pot or some other metal is vexing. I have obtain a pure tin pot and i have inquired with Omote Senke sensei and others active in the tea ceremony and connoisseurs and all agree that tin was as good as silver if it is pure. There was a long tradition of using tin pots from the 16th century to the present and beautiful examples were made in Kagoshima and Osaka.

  13. Seth Wolitz Says:

    I have had much happiness with my Japanese gyokuro tea made with my Sado made kyushu. Banko pleases me as well. Both are pure clay. But i avoid hagi-yaki pots for their are leaky and nod the flavor of the water is affected by the clay.

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