Posted 4 months ago
This Iwachu teapot is 6" long x 5.75" high, counting the spout and handle. The body of the teapot is 5.25" in diameter x 4" high. It weighs 1 lb and 13.5 ounces and has the old Showa mark under the spout. This is an older style teapot that I do not see that often. According to a spreadsheet of Iwachu products that I found their name for this kyusu is "Azumaya" which has nine possible meainings in Japanese, of which I think "arbor" may be the most appropriate. I have included all nine meanings at the bottom of this post.
The bottom of the pot appears to have been made using two molds as there is a mold line running from front to back and what appears to be some sort of proof stamps inside. The urushi lining looks different in color and thickness compared to what I see on newer teapots. It has a vine and leaf design on one side. I have seen examples of this teapot with leaves on both side. It holds almost exactly 16 ounces of water. I found a similar pot which was purchased in Japan in 1968. This also shows that urushi lined pots were in use in the 1960s.
This teapot was in fairly rough shape when I got it, dirty and rusty. Since I have not found good instructions for rejuvenating cast iron Japanese teapots, this was an experiment. First, I took a stiff nylon bristle brush and gave the rusty areas several scrubbings, wiping with a paper towel in between. That got a lot of the rust off. The "JAPAN" under the lid was completely illegible before scrubbing and there were several rusty areas on the top half of the teapot. The bottom was also very rusty possibly because someone used a candle warmer to keep the pot hot. There is no indication that it was used like a kettle, though. The brush did a good job of removing the loose rust. I then wiped the whole pot down with a slightly damp paper towel, which goes against some things I have read, but it cleaned the loose rust and dirt off the teapot.
Next, as part of my ongoing tea tasting/teapot experiment, I started brewing some tea in it. According to my reading, wiping the teapot with a cloth or paper towel soaked in tea is supposed to restore the finish if it is rusty. This worked really well on the top, though I had to do that three times, once after each brew. The teapot and tea both have to be hot for this to work. The bottom is better but still needs work. So this seems to be a promising approach.
I was able to get three brews from the two tablespoons of tea leaves that I used, a Jasmine green tea. I read that Jasmine green tea is less likely to cause heartburn, the reason I stopped drinking green tea years ago. That proved to be true and after six cups of green tea over a couple of hours I had no problems. Wrapping a towel around the teapot between brews really helped to extend the time the tea remained hot. I did run a pot of boiling water through the pot before each brew to get the cast iron hot.
So two successes. I was able to start getting a rusty cast iron Japanese teapot on the road to recovery and confirmed some of the tea brewing instructions for these teapots. I think this would be a good sized teapot if one wanted to drink several cups of tea over a few hours. I have another 8 ounce teapot coming and also another 16 ounce teapot coming and will confirm my findings are repeatable. I still have not tried my large Iwachu teapot which I think is probably 24 or 32 ounces (I haven't measured volume) as I am waiting for a strainer for it. I suspect that will be an all day tea drinking teapot.
I like to have multiple 8 ounce and 16 ounce teapots because they are small and easy to store and display and I can enjoy the various artistry of each pot while using it. I may add a couple more 8 ounce pots to my pile, while looking for some non-Iwachu pots, since I think I have enough examples of their work.
This one still has a ways to go before I get the condition where I want it to be and stable. I wish I had taken a "before" picture. I bought another Iwachu teapot similar to one I posted a few weeks ago that is very rusty. I will do a "before" picture of that one and also a comparison with the teapot that I have. If anyone actually has experience restoring Japanese cast iron teapots, or has a good source of information, I am willing to study and learn!
Azumaya meanings in Japanese: pavilion, arbor, summer house, bower, garden house, pergola, arboret and arbour.