Tea kettles can be simple and functional – purely used to get the job done quickly, or attractive and nostalgic – adding some old-time flair to your kitchen. The best tea kettles will combine these elements perfectly.
Ultimately, when choosing a tea kettle, you should ask yourself the following questions.
- What is your preferred style?
- Do you want something sleek and modern or charmingly traditional?
- Are you always in a hurry and pressed for time, or do you enjoy taking the time to potter around and prepare your tea while the kettle steadily comes to the boil?
Do you grab a single cup of tea before rushing off to the next task or do you enjoy taking a long break with a book, coming back to refill the cup time and time again?
Once you have decided on your needs, have a read through our guide to find the right type of tea kettle for your home.
What Is The Best Type Of Tea Kettle?
The answer to this question will vary, depending on your tea-drinking style, level of commitment, time and budget.
If you always find yourself short on time and just want your water boiled in the shortest time possible, the best type of tea kettle for you will clearly be an electric kettle.
Stovetop kettles boil water in between seven and ten minutes, depending on the material used, whereas electric kettles get the job done in less than five.
However, if you like a bit of ritual before sitting down to enjoy a relaxing cup of tea, you will enjoy the slower pace and timeless quality of a good, old-fashioned stovetop model.
Certain materials used to make stovetop kettles can imbue your tea with a different quality. For example, many people swear by a quality cast-iron kettle for richer, rounder flavor.
Stove Top Kettles
Stovetop kettles are a favorite for those who enjoy the entire tea-making experience as a ritual. Although a slower method than electric kettles, they imbue some true traditional style to your kitchen and are usually far more attractive.
They are a great choice for those who feel their kitchen is already overrun with gadgets that need to be plugged in.
Stovetop tea kettles come in a variety of materials, each with its own pros and cons. Although generally cheaper than electric kettles, prices can vary widely depending on what type of stovetop kettle you choose.
Cast Iron Kettles
Cast iron kettles are a true throwback to the good old days. These originated in Japan in the 17th Century, where they are known as tetsubin.
SEE ALSO: Best Cast Iron Teapot
Cast iron is extremely durable. Purchasing one of these quality kettles is akin to buying a family heirloom; treated well, they can last generations.
Cast iron kettles take longer to heat water than other materials, but they do heat very evenly and retain heat for a lot longer. If you enjoy being able to come back for refills over a longer period of time without having to re-boil your water, this is a great option.
The downside is that cast iron is high maintenance, and prone to rusting. You must not leave water sitting in the kettle, and will need to wipe it dry after every use.
Many will come with an enamel coating inside to prevent rust, but this can be easily chipped if you’re not careful.
Cast iron kettles appeal to tea connoisseurs, with many claiming that the iron that leaches into the water from the kettle brings out the true natural aromas and flavors of the tea – not to mention the added health benefits of extra iron.
If you’re looking for a stove top kettle that will bring water to the boil rapidly, go for a copper model. Copper conducts heat extremely well and can heat water faster at much lower temperatures.
Not only will you get your cup of tea quicker, you’ll save on power bills by boiling on a medium heat instead of high.
Unfortunately, copper is quite a soft material. Although a copper tea kettle looks wonderful on the stove top, it may pick up scratches and dents if roughly handled.
To maintain that wonderful copper glow, be prepared to occasionally polish your copper kettle.
One easy way to return a warm shine to your copper tea kettle is to coat it in ketchup or tomato paste. The mild acid in the tomato will remove any oxidation that’s dulling the metal and return the finish to its original brightness.
Some people find that boiling water in a copper kettle makes the water taste ever so slightly metallic, affecting the quality of the tea, but this may be a matter of personal taste.
Stainless steel is a very common metal for tea kettles and will look brand new for years with very little maintenance. Choosing a brushed finish will reduce the risk of water spots, and stainless steel is easy to clean inside and out.
Stainless steel tea kettles are a bit on the slow side when it comes to heating, but they do heat evenly.
The material is strong and durable and doesn’t dent easily.
Stainless steel kettles are good value for money; they are affordable and should last you for a reasonable amount of time. They are low maintenance and don’t affect the taste of the water.
Safety may be an issue, however – stainless steel can get very hot. If the handles are stainless steel, you’ll need to handle with a potholder.
An enamel tea kettle provides a classic look with a consistent finish. These are generally stainless steel – with all its positive qualities – finished with an attractive enamel design. Enamel finishes are extremely durable and easy to clean.
These types of kettles are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns depending on the brand and model, to help you match it to your kitchen.
The Whistling Tea Kettle
For most of us, the whistling tea kettle that lets us know when the water is boiling was a household staple.
Whichever tea kettle you choose, consider a kettle with a whistling lid.
Whistling tea kettles are timeless – and they are great for busy households! How often have you gone to boil water in an electric kettle only to completely forget about it within minutes? No chance of this with a whistling kettle, you won’t have to worry about missing out on your tea break.
The whistle is also a safety feature to keep you from boiling your kettle dry, which can be dangerous and will damage the finish of some metals.
How does the whistle occur? The two-hole cap on a tea kettle serves as a funnel for the steam building up in the pot.
Once the steam passes through the first hole or spout, the built-up pressure forces the narrowed jet of steam through the second hole or whistle.
There is inherent pressure instability created by these two holes, which is why the whistle tends to waver before it starts a steady shriek.
An electric tea kettle is a useful kitchen tool for tea fans because it heats the water quickly and turns itself off as soon as the water boils.
Depending on your tea preference, several electric tea kettles feature temperature sensors that let you know when the water has reached the right temperature for delicate teas like white or green tea – which are best brewed before water reaches boiling point.
Electric kettles get the job done in around half the time of stovetop models, using less electricity and saving you time.
They also tend to be a little safer, usually with a cool exterior and heatproof handle, so you don’t have to worry about little hands burning if they happen to get too close.
What are the downsides of electric kettles? Cheap models may be made of plastic, which can give your water – and your tea – a plastic taste.
Although they have safety features that won’t allow them to boil dry, there is little to no notification when they’ve finished boiling – most simply click off – so if you’ve started another job and forgotten about your tea break, you’re not going to get a handy reminder as you would with a whistling kettle.
You can also brew tea in a coffee maker; simply wash the filter basket and pot carefully, place the tea inside the pot and run hot water through the empty filter basket.
If you’ve used your coffee maker for a long time, you may need to run hot water through it once or twice to remove the coffee taste from the plastic components.
A relaxing cup of tea offers a wonderful opportunity to sit back and shake off the worries of the day. If you’re hoping to make tea a daily habit, you can invest in a basic stainless steel or electric tea kettle from many major retailers online.
To brew tea, a small ceramic teapot can be a charming addition to your home, and many gourmet coffee and tea shops offer a wide variety of styles and colors.
Create your own ritual to enjoy a relaxing cup of tea!