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Much as Americans and the English have teapots, the Japanese also have a special teapot called a Tetsubin.  In Japan, it is believed that drinking tea from an iron kettle brings better tasting tea since the water is boiled differently.  Additionally, with the Tetsubin teapot, you will find that the spout will only face to the right, where you will see adornment or ornamentation.  In Sencha, this type of teapot would be held in the right hand while in Chanoyu, the left hand would be prominent. 

In Japan, the tea ceremony is both historical and important.  Often known as Chanoyu, this ceremony is founded on very specific philosophies and procedures.  Together, these two create a aura of inner peace.  In fact, in the Japanese tea ceremony, everything involved is important to include the types of utensils used to the way in which the table is set.  While different classes within Japan favor different types of tea ceremonies, the Chanoyu is definitely the preferred method for the ruling class. 

Although the exact date for the start of Tetsubin is unknown, it is believed it first appeared sometime around the time when Sencha drinking became popular in the 17th Century, during which time this form of drinking was viewed as being symbolic revolt against Chanoyu.  Over time, more commoners started drinking tea and soon, it had its own place within society.  As the market expanded, the teapot was created as a means of replacing the expensive Chinese styles of drinking tea. 

Then by the 18th and 19th Centuries, Tetsubin was something seen and enjoyed in most homes.  As a way of providing humidity and heat, tea was prepared.  Since the affluence aspect was eliminated, it became quite common for Tetsubin to be plainly decorated rather than elaborately like before.  It was during this same time that Japanese art was also making a big change, which had a huge influence on how the designs were made. 

Using the Tetsubin, a ceremony was created called Ryakubon.  With this ceremony, the settings are minimal, including the Tetsubin for making the tea.  Another ceremony is called Kaiseki and with this one, a light meal is served just prior to the actual tea ceremony beginning.  Whenever a tea ceremony is held outside, this type of ceremony is used. 

It is true that the Tetsubin has only a small role in the formal Japanese Tea Ceremony but to most people, Japanese and other nationalities, it is still very fascinating.  Additionally, Tetsubin is a beautiful yet functional teapot although the shape and decorations are simple.  Remember that the focus of tea and the culture in Japan is focused on the Chanoyu procedures, which is believed to capture all the valued aspects of the Japanese culture. 

Tea ceremonies are geared toward esthetics and surroundings as a means of creating inner peace and serenity, which is crucial to the tea ceremony.  With the Tetsubin being designed in the likeness of a kettle, along with iron, many are made from copper, which are called Yakkan.  Regardless of the style, the type of ceremony, or the simplicity of utensils used, this tea brewing vessel is highly regarded and considered today as a treasured collectible.  Since they are hand-cast by master artists found in Japan, the process can take as many as 40 steps to complete, which is why they are so difficult to find.


 

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