Easier, better or both?


We chose a wood burning stove with a flat top, as we thought this surface might come in useful sometime. When the fire’s going, the stove-top thermometer reads over 200 deg C. That’s a lot of energy, sitting (well, not quite sitting – but that’s a topic for another day!) right there. As boiling water in an electric kettle uses lots of electricity, we thought we’d rather use all the lovely heat being generated by the wood burning stove to boil the water for our evening cuppa’.

First we tried one of our stainless steel pots. The water got hot, tiny bubbles appeared on the bottom and we waited, and waited and waited. It never boiled – i.e. no big, enthusiastic bubbles. We repeated the experiment with a teflon-lined pot – same result. Interestingly, we gave up watching this one and about an hour later discovered that the water had all evaporated. This stimulated a debate between hubby and I as to the definition of “boiling”. He said that in order for the water to evaporate, it must have been boiling. I thought it wasn’t really boiling if it didn’t bubble properly. We don’t have a suitable thermometer, so couldn’t settle the debate by seeing if the water reached 100 deg C.

After repeating the experiment using different pots, varying the volume of the water, with and without lids, we decided that pots weren’t going to work and that we needed a proper stove-top kettle for the job.

I trawled all the local cookshops, hardware stores and other likely retailers looking for a suitable vessel. The kettles were all either ugly, badly designed or both. Scalding is pretty likely if you have a kettle with a handle that sits above the lid in a fixed position . This ruled out most options. Poor spout design and bold colours ruled out the rest.

Then I discovered the magical tetsubin –  beautiful, superbly designed Japanese cast iron kettles. I found the perfect one online. When it arrived, it was love at first sight. Petite and elegant, it holds 800 ml water, has a handle that folds down, out of the way, so that you can lift the lid, a spout that pours well and a little hole for the steam to escape. And best of all – when we placed it on the wood burning stove, it boiled!!!!!

Each evening we now gain enormous pleasure making tea using water boiled on top of our wood burning stove in our lovely little tetsubin. A much better way to make tea.