Thursday, February 11, 2016

Charcoal fire serie, episode #4

This is another contribution to long lasting discussion on using charcoal fire as traditional source of heat for boiling tea water. Main points were probably already said in my old articles on this blog, but there are few new things I would like to share. For those who haven't had a chance to read the original texts, you can follow these links:

Part #1
Part #2
Part #3

I would like to start with a suggestion. I would like recommend to anyone who is using charcoal fire, or is thinking about going to this direction, read Issue 43, August 2015 of Global Tea Hut magazine. Main topic of the August issue was Fire, "The Teacher of Tea" There are many things to think about, to try, many interesting information and teachings. Of course, I would also strongly recommend to go and subscribe. It is really nice to have such magazine in hands every month. For many reasons. The community of supporters is growing and the magazine is growing with it. If you have not subscribe yet, or you missed some older issues, than you can read past issues online and for free (with some small and intelligible delay).

The Magazine traveled a big journey since I recieved it for the first time...

Another thing, which can make whole experience much easier for you, charcoal devotee are any informations where to source good, high quality charcoal. I have not colected any long list yet, good charcoal is not easy to find these days. ( I welcome any tips for all reading this blog in the comments section !!!). But at least, I can share two sources of good charcoal right now:

- If the Big Apple is not across an ocean, you might want to try original Japanese Binchotan charcoal from Korin. It is not cheap but the quality is really high, they have different grades and styles and if you don't have to pay an expensive shipping, then it is definitely worth to try.

This how Binchotan Aramaru looks at our porch. It is much heavier and more dense then any charcoal I had before...

- And now good news for us, European. There is good quality accessible charcoal around! Thanks to good friend, I get a chance to try this new charcoal and fall in love instantly. Made in Austria, I can almost call it local (...local supermarket as the second option is much less local ) It si family business making charcoal in tradition way. They are even applicants to become UNESCO heritage with their way of burning charcoal. Here iscool video about the procces .

Austrian and the left, Japanesse on the right...

I am not going to give you a long talk about it, but compare to all other stuff I could buy around, this wins in all requiements. Cleaner, smokeless (if dry!), nicer, last longer. The only "flaw" is that it is not so easy to light up compared to softwood charcoal from supermarket. It needs more attention, but I get use to it and I am never going back. If you are interested here are their products

Last thing I would like to share today is my shift in the whole "how to light up" question. Last year I started experimenting with charcoal lighters. Our kitchen electric glass stove does not like do this dirty work so much...And later I actually found out that, when you use the right charcoal lighter in the right way, it works even better. Of course, we are not going to use any heavy-chemical lighters for our tea fire. But still, when using charcoal lighter, do it outside - charcoal, before it is on fire, smokes. Sometimes a lot (remember: cleaner lighter and drier charcoal means less smoke!)

You can see three different charcoal lighters here. The middle man is the worst one, wood chips mixed with a lot of paraffin. It works but does not light so well and smoke is heavier. The right side one would be my second choice (even that looks really cool), and the left one is my favorite. Very fine mixture of wood chips, paper and a bit of paraffin.

Here you can see few pictures from yesterday fire party. I use my stopwatch to see how much time I actually usually need...

After two-three minutes I start to carefully load charcoal around the fire...

...filling the whole basket. Pay attention to how you compose the pile, think about the fire...

...a couple of minutes it seems that I put out the fire, but after another minute smoke starts to show...

After ten more minutes fire is visible and smoke is almost down. It is better to wait few more minutes before you move it inside...

Whole lighting up took me around 16min, but I was attending it just for few minutes on the start. I have not tried to light up the Binchotan this way yet. And as it is much harder-dense charcoal, it can be problem. I will try and share later on...

Happy fire fellow charcoal lovers!

Thank you for the reading!


  1. Dobrý den, snad mohu napsat česky. Už jste zkoušel objednat uhlí z tohoto zdroje do České republiky nebo jste si jej koupil na místě? Jaké máte zkušenosti s nákupem? Děkuji za odpověď, s pozdravem Ondřej Němec

  2. Dobrý den,

    Objednal jsem po emailu a paní mi ochotně poslala tři pytle...buhužel již jsou "v čoudu" a jelikož čím dál více přátel a zákazníků se mne tna tohle uhlí dotazuje, rozhodli jsme se udělat si výlet a dovést větší množství. Pokud by jste měl problém jej objednat tak klidně napište do emailu a až zde bude, můžu přeposlat...počítám tak do měsíce.

    Hezký čas

  3. Dobrý den, moc se omlouvám, že jsem se neozval, nepřišlo mi na mail upozornění na Vaši odpověď. Našel jsem v Čechách zdroj slušného uhlí, možná již znáte Zatím jsem nezkoušel, ale chtěl jsem Vám dát vědět.

  4. much harder-dense charcoal, it can be problem and may i know which type of problem it may create anyways this is very useful information thank you so much..

  5. Try to light it up with birch bark. thick/semi-thick is the best from a bit older birches. 100% natural straight from the tree. The best fire starter ever.