“Tetsubin” is the Japanese word for cast iron teapots, and these teapots were created to brew the full leaf Sencha green tea. It also has very detailed symbols and characters designed on each teapot. Such artistic designs look very Zen because of the positive attributes that the artwork connotes. There are twenty-four different characters and symbols that create one-of-a-kind designs on each Tetsubin Teapot. Such symbolic characters include chrysanthemum, cherry blossom, coins, dragon, dragonfly, elephant, four seasons, grapevine, hobnail, horse, imperial dragon, Koi fish/fish, lotus, monkey, pine needle and pine cone, ripple pattern, rooster, shogun warrior’s armor, stars and mountain, sun, tea leaf, tiger, turtle, and waves and water. Each teapot is handmade with iron on the outside and smooth enamel on the inside, but it doesn't have any lead. It requires seventeen craftsmen to do one teapot. Each delicate design has a particular meaning as well as it requires special care. Bamboo utensils are the preferred method to use in order to prevent from damaging the teapot and keep it in good condition for a long time. Tetsubin are known to be the best teapots in Japan because the tea remains hot for a much longer time than other teapots. Furthermore, the tealeaf used is considered to be healthier as well as better tasting because of the mineral that is created inside the teapot.
Tatara casting teapots are designed by a Japanese artist named Hisanori Masuda. Tatara requires iron, sand and charcoal to be burned inside a clay furnace for a certain amount of days, making the end result of the texture much different and interesting than the usual cast iron teapots. Masuda’s artistic teapots are so unique that his teapots are often admired and displayed inside many museums, such as Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has also received awards for his artistic abilities as well as he teaches at an art school in Japan.
The meaning for the twenty-four designs include:
Chrysanthemum is a symbol for autumn harvest, which means wealth, beauty and hope.
Cherry Blossom is Japan’s national flower, and it is a symbol for beauty.
Coins means prosperity, abundance, wealth and good luck.
Dragon means power, strength, good fortune, happiness and immortality.
Dragonfly means new beginnings, good fortune, infinity, love and romance.
Elephant means mighty, kind, wisdom, patience, courage and luck.
Four Seasons means Circle of Life, well-being, and health.
Grapevine means wealth, immortality, peace, and abundance.
Hobnail means strength. It is considered to be the most tradition design as well as one of the first designs in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Horse means loyal, leadership, and intelligent.
Imperial Dragon stands for the emperor in Chinese Dynasties. This symbol means imperial power and good fortune.
Koi Fish/Fish means wealth, fidelity, prosperity, good fortune, long life, and love.
Lotus means pure and enlightened.
Monkey means quick-witted, full of energy and creative genius.
Pine Needle and Pine Cone are symbols for friendship, youth, long life, good fortune, and being able to remain steady.
Ripple Pattern is a symbol for positive energy and infinity.
Rooster means high energy and warrior’s spirit as well as compassion and wisdom.
Shogun Warrior’s Armor means strength, courage, respect, honesty, glory, loyalty and wisdom.
Stars and Mountain symbolize a sacred area in the sky.
Sun means soul, pure, energize, balance, and happy.
Tea Leaf means good health.
Tiger means courage, determination, and bravery.
Turtle means long and eternal life, independence, patience, and balanced life.
Waves and Water symbolize a source of life, which involves a positive change, infinity, renewal, and creativity.
These teapots can be found at stores, such as Teavana, as well as teahouses.