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I love my cast-iron teapots; however, for Christmas, I received a set of teacups to match my latest acquisition. Do I pre-warm them like I do the pot? Or is the intent for it to leech some heat out when poured so it's drinkable faster? They appear to be traditional Chinese-style: small and without handles. They also appear to be enameled on the inside, to match the pot.

Also, is there anything I should know about the care and keeping of them above and beyond the usual cast-iron advice (no soap, dry well, et cetera)?

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Maybe keep them for iced tea? –  Tom Anderson Sep 23 '13 at 10:31
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The cast iron tea equipment is a Japanese development. In Japan, tea is most commonly a green variety, and brewed at a lower temperature than boiling. This can be as low as 104˚F (40˚C) for high grades of gyokuro, or as high as 167˚F (75˚C) for more common varieties of sencha.

The lower grade the tea, or the more oxidised/fermented the tea, the higher the temperature of the water recommended. In western tea culture, where black tea is the norm, the water used for tea preparation is usually boiling, 212˚F (100˚C), so if you are using cast iron equipment to prepare tea in the western fashion, you may be in for some burned fingers. This may also be the case for some Japanese ceramic tea services. I have one favourite Japanese stoneware tea cup that is equally likely to burn you if you put boiling water in it, unless you wait 5 minutes or more for it to cool.

In any case, the cost associated with cast iron tea services is such that they are more often used for more formal settings in which a higher grade of tea, and therefore, a lower water temperature, are more likely to be indicated.

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I'm not sure about the higher grade = lower temperature thing, but black vs green might well be my problem. –  Yamikuronue Sep 23 '13 at 11:46
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I've never found cast-iron teacups to be practical to actually use. Not only do you not want to warm them before pouring the tea in, after you pour it in the cups will be to hot to drink out of. One has to wait for the tea to cool to lukewarm before it's safe to touch one's lips to the cup.

As far as cleaning them goes, you can use soap and hand-wash, just don't put them in the dishwasher.

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I guess the answer really is "you don't, they're a bad buy" :( –  Yamikuronue Feb 2 '12 at 21:45
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My son also got a beautiful cast iron set this last Christmas and we were having the same issues with the teacups being too hot to hold. We set out on a mission to find a remedy and were told to either use two cups nested in each other or not fill the cup more than 1/4 of the way full. So I decided to create something myself. We came up with a heat diffuser product. You can see it at www.tealovey.com.

As far as cleaning them, we just rinse the pot and cups out after use and wipe the lips with a wet soapy rag and rinse.

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I love my Cast Iron cups more than anything. In the winter they keep your hands warm forever but they do get extremely hot. I love my tea and coffee so hot that they do cause a problem. I don't preheat mine and I just wipe them clean. They are great for warm sake too.

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