The best tea kettle has

  • Quick water boiling. Electric kettles should boil water about twice as fast as conventional models, usually in about four to six minutes depending on their capacity.
  • Durable interior and exterior. Tea kettles can be made of plastic, glass, stainless steel, copper, cast iron or aluminum. If they aren't made of a sturdy material, they'll be vulnerable to dents, tarnishing and leaks.
  • Easy to grasp, comfortable handle. Handles should be large enough to grab easily, while keeping your hand a safe distance from the steam-emitting spout.
  • Easily cleaned components. For tea makers especially, it should be easy to wipe down the exterior and clean the interior of scents and residue that may be left behind by tea leaves.
  • Cool-touch features. Good construction and a heat-resistant handle make a kettle easy to pour without scalding yourself; some feature cool-touch housing and bases, as well.
  • Useful safety attributes. Safety is an important consideration; electric kettles with automatic shut-off features and boil-dry protection can safeguard against fire incidents, according to Good Housekeeping.

Know before you go

  • Consider your kitchen when choosing stovetop versus electric. If you have room on your countertop or in your cabinets, opt for an electric kettle. They boil water twice as fast as stovetop kettles and are safer because most come equipped with automatic shut-offs that prevent dry boils, which are a fire hazard and can damage kettles. On the downside, electric kettles aren't available in as many styles and colors as stovetop models.
  • Think about what size you need. The smallest kettles boil just a few cups of water, but more common sizes range from 2 to 3 quarts. Although it's tempting to buy bigger, think about your tea-drinking habits if you want a stovetop model. Large models take longer to heat up and can be heavy, and most stovetop kettles don't have gauges that show how much water you're using.
  • Choose materials wisely. Consider a kettle's looks, but bear in mind that the material it's made of will affect how long it takes to boil and, in some cases, how the water tastes. Some users say plastic kettles can impart a chemical taste to the water or may contain bisphenol A, a chemical linked to health issues. Porcelain-enameled stovetop kettles can rust over time, whereas stainless steel kettles resist rusting.
  • Look for a comfortable handle and wide spout. Choose handles made of non-slip, heat-resistant materials that stay cool to the touch, and a wide spout that makes it easier to pour hot water. Many kettles come with button- or trigger-operated spouts that open when the handle is lifted, keeping hands away from steam. If you plan to make pour-over tea or coffee, a thin spout works best.
  • Go for auto shut-off on an electric kettle. Models with this feature turn off automatically when the water level reaches a low point, preventing the kettle from overheating.
  • To make serving easier, choose an electric kettle with a detachable base. Cordless models are safer and make serving easier since the cord doesn't get in the way of pouring. For a clean look when the kettle's not in use, consider those that have cord storage in the base. Some models have cords that swivel, making them easier to position on a countertop.
  • Check out the location of the handle and spout. Some stovetop kettles have handles situated directly atop the kettle, meaning users have to twist their hand to pour accurately. This can be a challenge for those with arthritis or mobility issues, so an angled, ergonomic handle might be preferred.

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