When purchasing an electric kettle, it's important to know what features to look for. Expect to find wide spouts that make it easier to pour hot water and refill the kettle, insulated walls that keep the kettle cool to the touch, filters that catch minerals and prevent clogs, and variable temperature settings. These kettles may also be used to make instant coffee or hot chocolate, and typically have a keep-warm setting that brings water to a boil more quickly when the kettle is refilled. Many owners feel safer using tea kettles that have no plastic parts touching the water, since plastic components could leach harmful chemicals into boiling water.
Our Best Reviewed Breville IQ Kettle BKE820XL (Est. $150) is a stainless steel, cordless model with a capacity of nearly 8 cups. Experts and owners praise its five easy-to-use temperature settings: green tea (175 degrees Fahrenheit), white tea (185 degrees Fahrenheit), oolong (195 degrees Fahrenheit), French press (200 degrees Fahrenheit) and boil/black tea (212 degrees Fahrenheit). It can reach a rolling boil in five to seven minutes, a good heating speed for a large kettle.
Similarly, the Adagio Teas UtiliTea Variable Temperature Electric Kettle ($50) is stainless steel, has a temperature-control feature for brewing specialty teas, and earns high praise from users and reviewers. However, it has a relatively low capacity of 3.75 cups (1 liter), so it may be best for one- or two-person households that don't brew much tea or coffee on a daily basis.
The Bonavita 1L Gooseneck Variable Temperature Electric Kettle ($95) also has variable temperature settings, and its gooseneck spout makes it ideal for pour-over coffee lovers who need a steady, controlled pour. One coffee expert at SeriousEats.com says, "There's really no better choice for an electric kettle for making pour-over coffee…at this price-point -- especially if you want to boil water for a cup of green tea from time to time, too."
The Chef'sChoice Cordless Electric Glass Kettle Model 679 ($70) is a top-rated tea kettle among consumers, earning about 4 stars out of 5 at Amazon.com. It's also named one of the best electric tea kettles by editors at Good Housekeeping, and owners like its ease of use and sleek look. However, some user reviews complain of a plastic odor and taste, a common gripe with most kettles that use plastic elements such as the IQ Kettle's plastic viewing window and the UtiliTea's lid. In addition, a few owners say the Chef'sChoice lid doesn't latch correctly or breaks: "It took us three replacements under warranty (all made promptly and cheerfully) to figure out that the top closure is delicate and requires just a little bit of 'teasing' to close properly," says one Amazon.com user. Good Housekeeping adds that the glass jug is on the heavy side at 4 pounds. The UtiliTea and IQ Kettle weigh just 1 pound.
Our Best Reviewed cheap electric tea kettle, the Hamilton Beach 8-Cup Cordless Kettle 40898 ($40) , is another lightweight option at 1 pound. It isn't immune to user complaints, but is a great entry-level kettle. With an 8-cup maximum, the 40898 has one of the largest water-fill capacities. Users say its stainless steel interior and wide-mouth top make it easy to clean; they also like its cool-to-the-touch construction but some wish it had a water level indicator.
All of these kettles have a detachable base, making for easy, cordless pouring, but contain plastic components that raise consumer safety concerns. In contrast, the Bonavita 1L Gooseneck Variable Temperature Electric Kettle is BPA-free, and the only plastic element in the Hamilton Beach 8-Cup Cordless Kettle 40898 is a spout filter that can be easily removed. All come with automatic shut-off features, and the Breville IQ Kettle BKE820XL and Bonavita kettle have stay-warm functions that keep water at a certain temperature for your next cup of tea.
Overall, none of these electric kettles gets perfect reviews. All receive some complaints about durability, difficulty pouring or other issues such as a hot exterior. Ultimately, they make our list of the top electric tea kettles because users are satisfied with their performance and features. As the most versatile and well designed of the bunch, the Breville IQ Kettle BKE820XL takes the Best Reviewed title.