Some of my more aged readers (or patient, or persistent ones) may recall my previous entries on this topic. In post cut in two, I was already sharing my premature experiences on this field, I was trying to encourage tea folks to go ahead, to experiment with charcoal and water. You can find those posts here (part I) and here (part II). After another year and half of playing with fire, I am not sure if I am really qualified to play a wise man here. Nevertheless, there are some new findings to point out. I arranged those in three chapters, stoves-kettles-charcoal, and I will be glad if you find there something interesting. I am not going to talk again here about how great it is, when you use charcoal fire for heating water for your tea. You already know it, right?
Well, here is something new what we can be proud of. And it is this:
|Iron cast basket, bottom up...|
What is it? Iron cast basket, which works as kind of grate in our ceramic stoves. Idea of this was born in Mirka's head after few cracked baskets in our stoves and many tests with different clays, shapes and designs. We wanted something, what would be easy to use even for beginners, without permanent worries, if the stove will survive another fire or not. Iron cast basket looked as a simple solution. How it is often in life, idea is one thing and reality another and it took us over a year to receive first pieces of iron cast to start with. After Mirka has made design of the basket, we search for iron cast company to make it for us. From thirty contacted just three were able to make the shape and details we asked for. And after some more discussion we start to cooperate with small iron cast factory and first prototype reach us last fall. I started to test it and I found out that there are changes, which have to be made. More holes, thinner walls, to lower the shape. Iron cast mold had to be rebuild...
Finally, after the New Year, Mirka was making first ceramic stoves with iron cast baskets. First, some testing pieces for me and our friends. Now it is growing, new shapes, clays, surfaces. Inspired by tea community, she is using her creativity to make functional stoves, which will be adornment of your tea session and yet, are not too distinct, screaming from behind your tea table.
Eventhought most rules of usage are the same as with whole ceramic ones, I still would like to mention them again:
- as iron cast is thermal shock resistant, you can more freely start fire directly in the stove. Using wood chips, playing scoutboy, or using gas spray gun is not problem anymore. Just don't forget to use common sense. Starting fire indoors this way is for example not good idea. Also, if you use wood or charcoal from bone fire to light up charcoal inside such stove, you will need later on to clean holes in the basket from ash. Some kind of iron chopstick works here.
-be aware, that iron cast keeps heat for very long time. It is good thing when you are boiling water, you will find that even hour after your tea session, it can be still hot. So don't leave it without supervision. Do not pour water over iron cast to cool it down, it might crack!
-Mirka's stoves are suitable for all kind of kettles. Tetsubins, glass, silver or ceramic kettles, all will work on such stove. Just when the bottom of the kettle is really flat and wide, the heating of water can be slow. If you are not sure, let us know sizes of your kettle and we will check if it would work.
There is no such revolution in kettles as there is in stoves. No miracle clay around, which would handle every fire, every wild treatment. It is ceramic and as such it have to be approached. All rules basically fall in the "using common sense" category and I don't want to scare you. But I think it is better to write them down. So basic rules are as follows:
- My ceramic kettles are meant to be used on charcoal stoves. I am giving full guarantee for my ceramic kettles, if used over charcoal fire. If you use it on gas or electric stove then you are on your own. Sometime it works even on gas/electric but there are some bad experiences. Recently, I am using several kettles for my everyday tea on our electric stove (the one with glass on the top) with steel diffuser. It works, no more cracked kettles! But it is still too soon to tell with certainty so just please be aware, it is more risky.
-Do not refill hot kettle with cold water. Especially when the kettle is empty, wait at least ten minutes. If you don't have two, three kettles to heat them after each other, then it is better to refill kettle when there is still about 1/3 of hot water
-Do not let empty kettle on the stove. It will crack.
-Do not forget the boiling kettle on hot stove. When it is full, it will slosh out, either on iron basket or ceramic stove. Both pieces are hot and can crack under thermal shock attack. If the kettle is almost empty, it can boil out and you already know what will happen to empty kettle on fire.
-Find some soft, warm material to put your boiling kettle on. Do not put it directly from fire on cold, wet surface
As you can see on pictures above and bellow, there are some new designs. Especially those top ceramic handles are very comfortable to use. When for smaller kettles, up to 750ml, I still make side handle kettles for bigger one I recommet top ceramic handle.
I have tried many different charcoals over the years. Mainly focusing on how easy and comfortable each charcoal is. After visiting Taiwan and seeing and trying some charcoal there I am aware of big differences between charcoal there and here. Hardwood fareast charcoal is much more dense, last longer and burn with higher temperatures. But I still prefer to use local products, looking for the best ones, then to import it from far, far away.
There is one rule, which I already said in my first post, but now I see it as crucial. More dry charcoal is better then not so dry. It sounds and it is logical. But it really can make big difference. Dry charcoal means less smoke/smell (or not at all), it is easier to light up and gives more heat.
Also mentioned before: If you have time, wash your charcoal. It will give you also opportunity to sort it out. Especially if you use some cheaper, mixed charcoal, usually the bag will contain some, let say "unwanted" items. Three bark, dust and fragments, pieces, which too big, and very smoky un-carbonized pieces of wood. All that you can sort and clean, wash with shower. Then dry, dry, dry!!!
If you have any stoves, kettles, charcoal related questions, feel free to ask in comment section bellow or via email.
Thank you for reading!