What the best tea kettle does
- Heats water quickly. No matter what your tea preferences,
nobody likes sitting around waiting for water to boil. The faster and more
reliably your kettle gets the water hot, the better.
- Allows you to fine-tune the temperature
settings. A rolling
boil will give you good results when you brew black tea, but for more delicate
teas lower temperatures give better results. The best electric kettles or
automatic tea brewers let you easily tweak the
temperature settings to match the type of tea you're brewing.
- Signals when the water is hot. Stovetop kettles usually whistle to
let you know the water has reached a boil; however, some do no. That means you
have to keep a close eye on the process. An electric kettle should also signal
you when the water's ready, whether it's with a beep or a whistle.
- Shuts off automatically. Stovetop tea
kettles can't do this, but most electric kettles can. This features
reduces fire hazard and the risk of damage to the appliance by shutting down
automatically once the water reaches the designated temperature or if the
kettle overheats or is in danger of boiling dry.
- Stays cool. Single-wall kettles can get
scorching hot, and even double-wall kettles will get warm to the touch on the
outside. But on the best kettles, the handle still stays cool enough to touch,
even while the contents are at a rolling boil.
- Pours easily. A good tea kettle should feel stable and well-balanced in your hand, with a sturdy handle and a
pour spout that easily controls the flow of water.
- Resists rust. The most common complaint we found
about tea kettles is that they rusted, or had to be
emptied and wiped dry after every use to avoid rust; reports of this were
especially common among stovetop kettles. This may not be avoidable, but some tea kettles are better at staving off rust than others.
- Sturdy construction. Look for sturdy-feeling kettles with
stout construction around the seams and weld points, or solid, one-piece
construction that don't have seams to fail in the first place. This ensures
that the kettle won't burst or leak, letting water flow out of the places where
multiple pieces join. For stovetop kettles with C-shaped handles (that are only
attached at one end), pay special attention to the construction of joint where
the handle meets the kettle body.
- Has a large lid/top opening. This makes it easier to clean and
dry the inside. Ideally, you should be able to easily fit your hand inside to
clean in the nooks and crannies and to thoroughly dry it to keep the interior
from rusting or taking on a stale or "off" taste.
Know before you go
How many people are you brewing for? If you're brewing tea for big
groups, a large kettle comes in handy. But the more water you use, the longer
it takes to heat, so if you're only heating water for one or two people, a
small kettle often offers faster boil times and, in the case of electric
kettles, offers better temperature accuracy than running a larger kettle only
What kind of tea are you brewing? Water reaches a rolling boil at 212
degrees Fahrenheit, which also happens to be the perfect brewing temperature
for black tea. But correctly brewing more delicate types of tea -- especially
green tea -- requires lower water temperatures. There's more to this than tea
"etiquette;" brewing delicate teas in in too-hot water can create a bitter
taste. If you frequently brew green and white teas, investing in an electric
kettle with variable temperature control saves you the bothersome process of
first boiling water, then waiting for it to cool to the correct temperature.
Do you live in the mountains? The higher your elevation, the lower
the temperature at which water boils. If you're not careful, you could find
yourself boiling a kettle dry and maybe damaging it in the process.
Variable-temperature kettles come in especially handy in this situation because
you can tweak them to account for not only tea type, but elevation as well.