Updated September 2013
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Not all tea kettles brew the same cup of tea

Tea is a higher-maintenance beverage than you may think. You can't brew green tea at just any temperature, and the same goes for oolong, white tea and many more varieties. Many blends must be infused once the water hits a specific temperature if you want to enjoy their full flavor. The best specialty tea makers, electric kettles and even stovetop kettles can help.

The most informative reviews of tea kettles focus on electric models that typically boil water about twice as fast as stovetop kettles, in four to five minutes as opposed to seven to 10. Electric tea kettles are made of stainless steel, plastic or glass. Most use a 1,500-watt heating element located in a detachable base so you aren't tethered to a cord when serving. Many come equipped with water gauges and, in some cases, marks that indicate the minimum amount of water needed for a safe boil. Automatic shut-off is another common feature, preventing the kettle from turning on if there isn't enough water in the chamber to be safely heated. A well-constructed stainless steel electric kettle costs about $100 to $150.

A number of reviewers prefer stovetop kettles for their simplicity and availability in many materials, colors and styles to coordinate with a kitchen's décor. They boil water just as well as high-end electric kettles and cost much less; our Best Reviewed pick in this category is just $25.

At the other end of the spectrum is a relatively new alternative, the automatic tea brewer. These electric machines operate much like coffee makers, with a basket for bagged or loose-leaf tea that water filters through. These aren't drip machines, however; instead, the basket allows the tea to steep until the set temperature is reached. With some models, that temperature can be adjusted according to the type of tea used. Due to their expertly crafted technology, tea brewers are difficult to find for less than $100 and are mainly purchased by tea enthusiasts.

To analyze durability and ease of use in real-world conditions, we turn to owner feedback at retail giant Amazon.com, which features hundreds of user reviews of popular tea kettles. We also rely on household and tech product websites such as Good Housekeeping, ApartmentTherapy.com, TheKitchn.com and CNET, and consider reviews by bloggers at tea and coffee enthusiast sites.

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