Or, how does one keep one’s teapot hot the longest? I’ll just come right out and say it (ask it) – for these are the weighty things I contemplate when I lie awake at night, unable to sleep, these deep questions about the meaning of life tea –

  1. What is superior to keeping a tea pot warm longer? The tea stove or the cosy? Who’s got it more right, the Germans/Japanese/Chinese, or the British?
  2. How much difference does the material from which one’s teapot is made make in maintaining heat?
  3. Is the difference in any of it enough to be really material?

[Let me just start by saying, bear with me all of you scientists out there who already have all these answers – for me, this is something I need to test out!]

In part one to addressing this question, I decided the only way was to construct my own little experiment and time it myself. My control items were the same – same pot, same place, same temp gauge, and so on. Used my lovely Breville for control and consistency – check out my post on that amazing implement. My other variables included:

  • Brew time set for 4 minutes
  • Brew temp – boiled at 2to 12 Fahrenheit before brewing
  • 5 tsp. of tea (4 cups + one for the pot)
  • 1200 mls of water
  • Used the same porcelain Villeroy & Boch fine china teapot (an old pattern, Mariposa) for all three trials
  • Tea lights used were new for each stove
  • Measured the temp using my Kizen instant read thermometer every five minutes for 30 minutes, then once again at the 45-minute mark

I did three runs, using firstly, a typical German stove (made for me years ago), then a cast-iron stove, and finally the Fortnum & Mason brand cosy. I guess I did have some preconception that the cosy would do the best – probably because whenever I use a cosy the lid of the teapot gets so hot I can hardly touch it. And that never happens with a tea stove. However, the flame is fire, for goodness sake; maybe it doesn’t matter about the teapot lid!

I also had this idea that the cast iron tea stove might hold the heat longer and more evenly heat the post than a more open stove made of wood and metal bars on which the teapot sits.

So – the result? The cosy won out over the stoves, but only very slightly – the percentage in heat reduction vs either of the tea stoves varied by less than one percentage point. Similarly, the cast iron stove barely won out over the other, but was only about half a degree warmer than the other stove over the same time period.

Conclusion? That it really is immaterial in terms of which warming method one uses to nurse a pot of tea over some time. Whether you prefer the British cosy or the stove favored by the Germans, Japanese or Chinese, just enjoy nursing that pot!

Question number two to be tested for the next post….

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