Cast iron for keeping water warm?

So, I’ve started getting back into greens and oolongs lately, and I’d like a good way to brew them at work. At home I use a method similar to gongfu (lots of leaf, tiny pot) and heat fresh water as necessary. At work, I do have a kettle, but I already heat water often through the day and worry about annoying my coworkers if I’m doing it twice as often – heating 4oz water over and over again through the day, then letting it cool, pouring off etc.

Today it occurred to me – cast iron is supposed to keep tea warm for a long time… maybe I could use it to keep water warm and brew from that? So now I’m considering buying an enameled cast iron pot for that purpose. I’m wondering if anyone has done this, or something like it, or can just tell me how long their cast iron pot keeps tea warm?

I’m also considering just a vacuum thermos, a ceramic pot buried in tea cozies, or maybe a zojirushi… but I’d rather go with the low-tech aesthetically-pleasing option if it works _

12 Replies

I think the thermos will keep water hot the longest and be the cheaper option compared to cast iron pots. The cast iron pots will likely be the most aesthetically pleasing, at least by my standards. I’d go with the thermos, honestly, though it can be hard to control the water temperature. :D Good luck!

Thanks – I am leaning toward the thermos now as a cheap/practical solution.

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momo said

I agree with Mercuryhime, a thermos would also be easiest. I like my cast iron pot but it can’t retain heat as long as a thermos. Maybe it would if you kept it continuously on a warmer of sorts but a thermos is a much cheaper option. But if you want it to be pretty while you work and price doesn’t matter, there’s probably some sort of electric warmer you could use with a cast iron pot to help it retain heat much much longer.

Thanks for the input – I hadn’t thought of an electric warmer! Now I’ll have to see if this exists…

momo said

Oh yes! They’re pretty cheap, you can get them on Amazon for $10-25, though I’d find one with the warmer part level with the sides so a teapot could fit on it. You could also get a single hot plate that has a low heat setting.

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Rellybob said

I put my cast iron over a warmer (tea light kind) and it stays hot! Not sure you would be allowed that at work tho. :-)

Yeah, I’m pretty sure open flame would be a no-go :/ I might try this at home though!

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If you were willing to spring for cast iron, I’d go with the zojirushi. Yeah, okay, not as a pretty, but very work-functional, yeah? I have a co-worker who bought one specifically because she makes white tea all day long and she was annoyed by how often she burned it. Now she just sets it to the right temp and dispenses whenever she wants a cup.

A thermos would definitely save you money, but in neither that option nor a pot can you control the temperature of the water very well. Seems to me that if you’re doing a lot of gong fu brewing (especially greens and oolongs) that it would be a great thing to have finer control over the water temperature.

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ashmanra said

When resteeping greens and oolongs, I first fill my tetsubin with hot tap water to prewarm it while the water in the kettle comes to a boil. As soon as the water boils, I pour out the tap water and pour the boiling water into the cast iron pot. I put it on the warmer right away so I don’t lose much heat. I have no problems resteeping greens and oolongs this way even though it is not precise and I know the water is cooling a bit. I figure if tea has been made for thousands of years without a digital temperature read out, surely it will be close enough!

But this is at home and at my leisure. I would think that something Ike the Zojirushi would be great. I did see a video long ago that JacquelineM posted where a woman exploring pairing cheese and tea carried the hot water in a thermos and did the resteepings that way, and she was a professional.

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Thanks for all the input! I still love the idea of the tetsubin, but it sounds like it would need some sort of warmer to be effective and that’s getting a little too complicated for my desk. The Zojirushi would work perfectly I’m sure, but… tell me I’m not the only one who feels like it’s cheating? :P I guess getting the water temperature right (or not, as the case may be) is part of my personal ritual.

I ended up ordering a 1-liter vacuum thermos that should do the job well enough!

Azzrian said

I can tell you that every nice tea place I have been (which are not many but a few) use them! Mandala Tea uses them – not that I have been there but I respect and trust Garret of Mandala completely. Also they are used at Shang tea which is an EXCELLENT tea company you can see reviews here on Steepster and they are local ish to me.
So if they can cheat so can we :)

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leafyq said

Be careful about leaving water in an enameled pot, as you will notice it may become porous.

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