Tea Kettle Review Guide
Electric, Stovetop, Glass or Copper?

How to buy a tea kettle? Electric versus stovetop. What are the pros and cons of aluminum, stainless steel, glass, copper, silver and cast iron kettles?



Discovering your favorite tea is only half the battle. To enjoy this delightful beverage at its best, you also need the right equipment.

Heating water in a microwave is one of the fastest ways to make hot tea, but it’s not necessarily the best.

The radio waves in a microwave oven can actually “superheat” water, taking it beyond the boiling point. This can destroy the delicate flavor of tea. Also, steeping green tea and white tea may require lower temperatures, something that’s hard to achieve using the microwave.

So, to get the most out of your tea, you need a tea kettle to heat the water. Tea kettles are vessels used to heat water only. The pot that you steep the tea in is called a tea pot, and you generally don’t put tea pots on the stove like you do with kettles.

There are many types of kettles available. How do you know which one to pick? Is it worth it to spend more for an expensive model, or will a cheap kettle meet your needs equally well?

To help you decide, I’ve assembled this tea kettle buying guide. Read on to learn more about how to choose a tea kettle!

Stovetop Versus Electric Kettles

The first big question to consider is this: do you want a stovetop or an electric model?

  • Advantages of Stovetop Kettles

The more old-fashioned stove-top models are still a great choice, especially if, like me, you already have more kitchen gadgets than electrical outlets. They are attractive, easy to use, and don’t require a plug.

For many people, heating water over the stove for tea is an important part of their tea-making ritual. And - stovetop kettles generally cost less than electric kettles.

  • Advantages of Electric Kettles

The advantage of an electric kettle is that it heats water faster and uses less energy.

Also, some electric kettles have built in water filters, to remove hard water deposits from your water. Electric kettles are great for students living in dorm rooms, where there isn’t a stove available to heat a late-night cup of tea.

If you drink green tea or white tea, some electric kettles have a temperature-control feature that stops heating the water before it hits the boiling point, so you don’t have to worry about getting your water too hot.

I will go on to explain how to choose a stovetop kettle. For further information about buying an electric kettle, read

Electric Tea Kettle - Which Is The Best?

If you have a busy lifestyle and want a machine to take care of tea brewing when you are busy at work, you may want to consider buying an electric hot tea maker. For further information, read

Hot Tea Maker - Automatic Electric Review

Which Materials?

Stovetop kettles come in a variety of materials. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Aluminum

Anodized aluminum tea pots are almost as energy efficient as copper, but can be expensive. However, they are highly resistant to stains and scratches, and are light enough to take camping with you. If you need a kettle for the outdoors, this is the one for you.

If you are brewing tea at home, I don't generally recommend them as there have been health concerns about the aluminum content of tea leaves in some parts of the world. As a safety precaution, this is the one to avoid for regular boiling.

Stainless steel is one of the most popular tea kettle materials. It is attractive and easy to keep clean, but relatively slow to heat. They are often quite cheap, and can provide a good value for the money.

Watch the handles, though, because they tend to get hot and hard to pick up.

  • Glass

Glass kettles or glass tea pot are attractive and easy to clean. They are essential when you are serving up teas where visual appreciation is important - such as blossoming teas and herbal tisanes made of whole leaves and flowers.

However, you have to be careful not to heat them up too fast, as sudden changes in temperature can cause glass to shatter. In fact, you shouldn’t heat a glass kettle directly on the eye of the stove. Use a piece of metal such as a metal trivet to diffuse the heat instead.

Glass kettles are also breakable, so you have to be very careful when cleaning and transporting them.

 

Copper kettles conduct heat better than stainless steel.

You should always use them on medium heat, never on high heat. Because you use them on medium heat instead of high heat and they heat water quickly, they use less energy then other types of kettles.

Copper is soft and tarnished easily, so copper kettles require more maintenance. Also, they require special cleaning solutions to keep the copper from getting scratched.

 

Cast iron tea pots are another popular choice. They are heavy but durable, excellent for holding heat.

However, they can be prone to rust. Many cast-iron tea pots are coated with enamel inside, and care is required when cleaning so as not to scratch the enamel.

When you first get a cast iron tea pot, you need to remember to dry it out thoroughly in between uses so that it doesn’t rust. After you’ve had it for a while, a layer of minerals will build up, making the tea pot almost completely rust-proof.

Cast-iron tea pots take longer to boil water than tea pots made from other materials. On the other hand, they also keep the water hot for a longer.

Some cast iron tea pots have a plain iron finish, but others come encased in different shades of enamel. Be aware that enamel is prone to chipping, however.

Which Tastes Better?

Would the type of kettle you use affect the taste of the tea?

The answer is a definite yes, although, for the average consumer, the quality of the water has a much greater effect than the tea kettle itself.

Some people say that cheap, electric kettles made from plastic can make water taste like plastic. I haven't used plastic kettles for a long time, but for obvious reasons, this is the one to avoid.

Copper has been known to make water tastes metallic, although you can get around that by purchasing a stainless steel kettle with copper base bottom.

Glass has the advantage of not affecting the taste of the tea at all, and most stainless steel models are also fine.

True connoisseurs may want to consider using silver and cast iron kettles.

Silver kettles are expensive, but the water quality is light and fresh. This is especially true for kettles with thin metal.

Being the best conductor of heat has its own downside. This precious metal can be hot to touch, and it doesn't retain heat well. It is an excellent fit for lightly oxidised teas such as white tea, green tea, the greener oolongs such as the Iron Goddess tea and the raw, young pu-erh tea.

Cast iron kettles produce water that is heavy with more body. It should be used for the heavily oxidised teas such as Wuyi oolongs, red tea, black tea and the old pu-erh tea.

How Big?

After you have decided what you want your tea kettle to be made from, make sure you get one that is an appropriate size for your needs.

If you make tea primarily for yourself, a small kettle is the best choice because it will heat your water quickly. On the other hand, a larger tea kettle would be more appropriate for company.

What Kind of Spout and Handle?

Consider the vessel in which you will actually brew the tea.

Some kettles have very wide spout to make it easy for your to refill water through the spout. This can be a handy feature for some people.

However, if you are going to use a small tea pot, it is best to get a tea kettle with a small, well-defined spout to give you better control over the hot water. Spilling boiling water on your hand is no fun!

Another handy feature to have on a tea kettle is a heat-resistant handle. It is a lot easier to pour water for your tea if you don’t have to worry about hurting yourself when you pick up the handle!

Whistle or Not?

Some people like tea kettles that whistle when the water reaches the boiling point. Others find them obnoxious.

If you are absent-minded like me, you will appreciate them as a safety feature that keeps you from accidentally boiling the kettle dry.

If you don’t need a reminder and the whistling sound drives you crazy, you can get a tea kettle without a whistle. Some more expensive kettles even come with whistles designed to sound musical instead of shrill.

Conclusion

When choosing a tea kettle, first decide whether you want a stovetop model or an electric model. Then, decide what materials you want your kettle to be made from.

Consider what kind of spout and handle you want, and decide whether or not you want your kettle to whistle for you when it is ready.

Now that you know what to look for, you can make the right choice when you go out to buy a new tea kettle.

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