Sunday, May 10, 2009

How to use Chao Zhou Stove Set

Prepare the kettle/pot:
Soak the clay kettle/pot in room temperature water 20 minutes prior to burning for each use, else it can crack easily. I fill the pot with room temperature water to the top each time I finish using it, so that I won't forget and spend 20 minutes to soak the pot the next time. Make sure there's water in the pot when you put it on fire at any time, avoid cold water in an empty hot pot, or hot water in an empty cool pot. Do not refill water while pot is on the fire. The clay is very porous, expansion and contraction due to water temperature change will crack the pot easily. I have done that!

For first time use:

Scrub stove under tap water to get rid of any tape residues before using.

Discard the first pot of boiled water.

To light fire:

Hardwood charcoal is the best choice next to Olive Pit Charcoal, do not use any BBQ briquettes, especially ones smell and smoke a lot. I use Whole Foods Market’s 365 brand hardwood charcoal. For choice of charcoals please check the following website:
Place small pieces of hardwood charcoal on stove stop to burn for a few minutes till they are red on the side, then transfer to clay stove. Add more charcoals if necessary during the session. See picture. Fan from the bottom opening of the clay stove will speed up the fire.

To put out fire:

1. To put out fire completely, cover lid with the knob on, and cover the bottom opening. You may stop the fire at any time this way without waiting for the fire to burn out or put water over it and make a mess.

2. If you want to stop making tea for a little while, but want the fire going for later, cover lid with the knob off, cover the bottom opening but leave a small gap on one side to keep the air flowing inside the stove chamber. This way the charcoal will keep on going at low temperature, when you are ready to boil water again, open up the cover and lid, add new charcoal to catch on fire. You can adjust the bottom cover to control fire temperature as well. Bigger the gap, more oxygen, higher the fire temperature, faster the water will boil.

To boil water:

The lid will make clinging noise once the water is boiling. You can take the kettle off the stove and place it on a trivet (wood is the best choice) or take off the lid. Do not place hot kettle/pot over any water. It will crack the pot also. When boiling water, line the pot handle above one of the 3 elevated landings of the stove, this will prevent the fire from heating the handle, hence prevents your hand getting burnt.



Herb Master said...

Thank you for providing instructions for use, my tea and honey arrived safely 5 days ago, Now I am eagerly awaiting the stove.

Imen said...

Hi Herb Master,

Please let me know if any issue arises. :)

Herb Master said...

The stove has not arrived yet, but my charcoal has. I found a european source for Olive Pit charcoal. From this post I thought I had a good idea of how to start the stove. But I see the Olive Pit Chacoal pieces are a lot smaller and would fall through a holder such as illustrated, how do you recommend starting to light them?

Herb Master said...

I guess I could use the firegrate out of a small Hibachi and place that over a gas ring?!

Imen said...

Herb Master,

I'd be interested to know how does the European Olive pit charcoal work. European Olive is a different varietal from the Chinese. Nevertheless, it's great to have other alternative. I'd suggest try burning the charcoal on the side to see how much smoke and smell it will emit before putting it into the clay stove. The smoke might permanently stain the kettle.

Yes, a firegrate from a small hibachi is exactly what I use.

I hope the stove will arrive in the next couple working days. Else, please let me know. :)

Herb Master said...

My stove has arrived safely, the stove in 4 pieces

vent Closure
Lid with Plughole

kettle in 2 pieces


The packaging was minimal with very little padding, just paper and sellotape. But was rightly enclosed in a simple cardboard box - fortunately it all seems fine!

A few clay shards in both Stove and Kettle, but not apparently of any significance the pieces look fine.

Sadly the holes in the stove base are too large for my Spanish Olive Pits, so I will have to search for some more charcoal!

Looking at your picture, which contains some large flattish slabs of charcoal - I was wondering . . . .

. . . . How deep do you pack the stove ?

If I put a thin layer of flat charcoal in the stove, I could add my Spanish Olive Pits on top ???

Herb Master said...

You wrote

"Make sure there's water in the pot when you put it on fire at any time, avoid cold water in an empty hot pot, or hot water in an empty cool pot. Do not refill water while pot is on the fire. The clay is very porous, expansion and contraction due to water temperature change will crack the pot easily."

But the kettle is small, so for a Gong Fu session of perhaps 8 infusions it will need to be refilled several times -

It appears to hold about 240 ml - so If I am using a 120 ml teapot and fill the teapot, then rest the kettle on a dry trivet.

1) Should I allow the kettle to cool slightly before refilling with room temp water, pouring slowly into the remaining water so that no stream of new water touches clay?

2) Could I speed things up by refilling with water from another kettle that is already signicantly above room temp, or would that dissipate the water improvement effect of using the Chao Zhou stove?

Imen said...

Herb Master,

You will have to constantly refill the kettle.

1) After pouring part of (near) boiling water to make tea, then add room temp water slowly into the remaining water, avoid cool water touching clay is recommended, but need not be strict.

2) yes, you can add warm water from other kettle, as long as you let the water boil a minute or two.

Imen said...

Herb Master,

You can fill the compartment as high as your kettle can sit evenly on top. You can use pieces of hardwood charcoal at bottom before adding olive pits on top.

Generally speaking, depending on the size of the charcoal, larger charcoal can fill up higher, smaller ones need not be fill all the way up high. You need to allow air travel from bottom of stove to top in order for the fire to go on, so dense small charcoals may clog oxygen when too much is used.

misaacka said...

Imen, I fired up the little stove today. You know: I thought I might taste a difference in the water, but I didn't really expect it--I'm just not that diligent in my brewing and tasting. But I do love gear, so I was prepared to be delighted with the stove set for that factor alone. And I am! But I was gobsmacked when I tasted the first brew this afternoon. It was a Bao Xian from last year, one I'd had just a couple of days ago, so I could clearly taste the difference in the water. I'm not sure how to put it into words: the water has more joie. It's more alive. Silky and vibrant. Just beautiful. I almost think that I could happily sip just plain water boiled on this stove, in this kettle. That's the difference.

For the record, I don't have any olive pit charcoal, so I used a mix of hardwood charcoal (Cowboy/Whole Foods) and extruded coconut charcoal (Kamado). The coconut charcoal is more satisfactory overall (no smoke, little ash, long-lasting), but its shape doesn't fit the stove's chamber all that well--only one chunk fits until it's burned down a bit, then it's possible to wedge in a second. I'm compromising by lighting up some smaller bits of Cowboy along with the Kamado, then packing the Cowboy in alongside the Kamado chunk. I was able to keep the stove going for about 6 hours this afternoon (in time to share a lovely session with a former student) by carefully alternating refreshments of Kamado and Cowboy. With strategic window opening and overhead fans, this worked very well for an indoor session.

Again, I want to thank you for your passion and diligence in bringing these tools to us. The water that flows from this kettle on this stove . . . it teaches me. I cannot thank you enough for that.

Imen said...


I tested half a dozen kinds of charcoal, but never tried Coconut charcoal. It sounds like a good choice if they make smaller size ones. Thank you for sharing your experience!

You are very welcome! We all learn and discover new things when we allow ourselves to. Thank you!

misaacka said...

Imen, the coconut charcoal I have is made by Kamado for their ceramic cookers, so I'm pretty sure they don't make it in smaller sizes. It comes in more or less regularly sized hexagonal chunks, about 2 inches tall and 1 1/2 wide, with a small vent hole running vertically through the chunk (it's extruded). I'm thinking I'll have a session with the charcoal and a hack saw in my garage sometime soon and slice up a batch. It really is very, very clean- and long-burning; actually odorless. Much better than the Cowboy/Wholefoods (I understand that Cowboy makes the Wholefoods brand), which burns very quickly and with a somewhat harsh aroma. When I tried to use just a chunk of the Kamado by itself, it took forever to boil water, but with a little Cowboy tucked in alongside, it heats up much faster. I'm hoping that thinner slices of the Kamado will yield the best of both worlds.

Kamado charcoal is not that easy to come by, but you might try the forum on the Kamado site. I'm sure there are Kamado owners in southern CA who'd be happy to help you get a box to try. They're friendly folks. :-)

Imen said...


Thank you for the info! I actually called the Kamado place a few times, they never pick up the phone. But the product sounds very good, so I'll go the extra mile to find that good charcoal. :)

I didn't know cowboy does whole foods' charcoal too. Some how the whole foods charcoal is much better than the cowboy's from my experience. Cowboy has MANY incomplete carbonized pieces, which makes it hard to catch on fire, smokey, smelly, and leaves a black oily film on my pot.

Herb Master said...

I have been using my Chao Zhou stove this week and am delighted with it.

I have posted an account with some photos (later on) in a Tea Chat posting

I am delighted with it, I need to get a thin walled Chao Zhou teapot (or 2) but cannot afford to purchase any more tea or teaware until nearer the end of the year. I hope you will have some left.

Imen said...

Herb Master,

Thanks for the write up! :)

I am sourcing some Wu's CZ pots, should be here in 1.5 weeks. I am sure there will be more toward the end of the year.

Herb Master said...
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Herb Master said...
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Herb Master said...

On a recent TeaChat blog entry about Roy's disparaging remarks about Single Bush DanCong, a poster brought this video to my attention.

It shows a lady fanning her chao zhou stove, I have felt this would be a good way to speed things up.

The fan she is using certainly seems much easier to use than anything I have readily at hand.
Searching the internet the only results I can come up with are ladies hand fans!

Do you intend to sell anything like this?

Imen said...

Herb Master,

I actually do sell these goose feather fans. Not yet showing on my site, but yes. I'll post it on my website under teaware soon. :)

Herb Master said...

On the same video at the first farm it shows them preparing a bowl of DC for the older lady with some honey in it.

Is this common?

Under what circumstances would you consider adding honey to a DC, and are any of your honeys more or less suitable for using with tea?

Herb Master said...

I am pleased with my recent order, I was hoping to buy a couple of Goose feather fans at the same time.

Did you ever get the Fans or did they sell out quickly.

Not urgent at the moment, as the onset of winter means I shall not be using my CZ stove for a few months, but I still want them.

Imen said...

Herb Master,

I am going to China in 10 days, I can pick up a couple on the way back. Do you want the copper chopsticks too?

Herb Master said...

Copper Chopsticks might be fun, but currently I use a small basket that I have folded from the same steel mesh that I use to stop the tiny Spanish Olive pits falling through the grate.

I hold the basket over the kitchen gas range and carefully carry it outside to the CZ stove in the garden.

The chopsticks may be handy in emergencies

Jinx said...

hi imen , by any chance u still have the stove set for sale ?