That was our top criteria for selecting the best tea kettle.
If you want to sit back with a warm cuppa while you read the details, the OXO Good Grips Classic Tea Kettle, is a combination of all these features and was selected the “Best Overall” pick from our editorial team.
Tea Kettle Buying Guide
What is a Tea Kettle?
The history of tea kettles is quite interesting. Travelers and soldiers in ancient China would boil water to remove impurities that would make them sick. They would add green tea leaves to the boiling water so it would have some flavor which led to the creation of tea. Green tea is now a wildly popular and very healthy drink.
Additionally, over time, tea kettles were often used by cowboys to boil water for their coffee during cattle runs. These kettles were heated in or over campfires so they needed to be very durable and made from a material that wouldn’t burn. For this reason, many of the tea kettles that cowboys used were made of copper which is a perfect heat conductor.
In Japan, there is a specific way to serve tea that is a highly-regarded cultural activity. It is a choreographed ritual with a lot of meaning. All in all, tea kettles are part of something that has a lot of history and a lot of meaning all over the world, not just in our own backyard.
There are two basic types of tea kettles that you can purchase: stove top and electric. There are benefits and drawbacks to each and one type may work better for your lifestyle and home. We’ve outlined the differences below.
Electric Tea Kettles – Electric tea kettles have their own heat source so if you don’t have a stove top or burner this is a great option as you’ll still be able to make a great cup of tea. Electric tea kettles heat water very quickly, sometimes in less than a minute depending on the model of kettle. Some models of electric tea kettles have even included the whistling sound which alerts you that the water is heated. Other types have an automatic turn off to keep the kettle from boiling dry. Electric tea kettles have many styles and some can even turn cordless wherein the kettle can be moved outdoors once the water is heated. For example, for enjoying a few cups of tea on the deck without having to bring the power source.
Stove Top Tea Kettles – Stove top tea kettles are often made of stainless steel and other materials such as copper which are good heat conductors. This type of tea kettle requires a stove top or burner of some kind to heat the water. Durable kettles made of copper can even be used over a campfire. One of the enjoyable features of most stove top tea kettles is that they will emit a whistle when the water is done boiling. The whistle usually starts off low then gets louder the longer it boils. This is so users don’t ignore it and let the kettle run dry. If you prefer, some models have an option to keep the spout up which eliminates the whistle from sounding. There are many different styles and types of stove top tea kettles which is one reason they’ve become so collectible.
It might sound like an odd question, but where you will be making tea and using your tea kettle can determine which type is best for you.
At Home – If you’re going to be making tea at home, you can choose either a stove top tea kettle or an electric model. Many people don’t have much counter space which makes a stove top model perfect. You can even find both stove top designs and electric designs to match your existing kitchen décor.
At the Office – Office kitchens are often not equipped with stoves. So, for this reason, an electric tea kettle would be the best choice for making tea a regular thing at work.
Dorm Rooms – If you don’t have access to a stove or burners, you will want to get an electric tea kettle. An example of this would be dorm rooms that aren’t near a kitchen or heat source as these are required for a stove top model.
On the Road – If you are camping or traveling you can still have tea. If you’re enjoying old-fashioned outdoor camping, find a great stove-top kettle to heat on the grill. Or, if it’s made of the right materials, you can just place it over the fire. If you’re traveling in an RV and have a stove top you can still use a stove top kettle. If you don’t have access to a burner or stove in the RV then an electric tea kettle will work nicely.
Tea kettles are made of many different types of materials. This makes them a very popular collectors item for the many people who love the different styles, materials and shapes they come in. Below we’ve outlined some of the more common materials that are used to make tea kettles.
Aluminum – Aluminum tea kettles are a great choice for campers due to their light weight. They are made from anodized aluminum and are quite energy efficient. They can be a little expensive but they are stain and scratch resistant so they usually last a long time. There have been some questions raised on the long term safety of aluminum as a cooking material. If you have 1-2 cups of tea every day you may want to opt for a different material for your tea kettle until more research is published.
Stainless Steel – One of the most popular materials for tea kettles to be made of is stainless steel. This material takes awhile to heat up yet is generally very easy to keep clean. Also, stainless steel tea kettles are usually inexpensive. If there is not a rubber grip on a stainless steel handle it can get very hot, so using a pot holder will be necesssary.
Glass – Glass tea kettles are very easy to clean and they look pretty too. If you want to serve tea to guests, a glass tea kettle will give your tea a visual appeal as well as being functional. Glass tea kettles need to be heated more slowly than other types of materials. Instead of sitting the glass tea kettle directly on the burner, you should put a metal trivet down and then set the tea kettle on top of that. They can also break during washing and moving. While they are very pretty to look at, more care is involved in keeping them in one piece.
Copper – Copper is the best heat conductor and is what cowboys used most often on cattle runs. Never heat a copper tea kettle on high heat. Medium is plenty high enough and even on medium they will heat water very quickly which means they use less energy than other types of tea kettles. Copper kettles do involve more maintenance to keep them from tarnishing and it’s a softer material too. They need special cleaning solutions to prevent the pretty copper finish from being scratched.
Cast Iron – Cast iron tea kettles are heavy and durable. They are also excellent for holding heat and look fantastic too. The drawback to cast iron is that without proper care they can rust. Some cast iron tea kettles have enamel coated insides and you will need to clean carefully to avoid scratching the enamel. Drying your tea kettle between each use is very important. By taking care of it properly, a layer of minerals will build up that will make the tea kettle virtually rust proof. Even though they take longer to heat up, once they are hot they will stay hot for a long time. Cast iron tea kettles might have a plain iron finish yet other times they have enamel coatings in different colors. The coating can chip if handled roughly.
It doesn’t matter if you are an avid tea drinker or if you just like to drink it occasionally, having a great tea kettle can bring enjoyment to your life if you are one who likes to make hot drinks like cider, hot chocolate and hot tea. With features like whistling, cool-grip handles and tons of styles and shapes, you’ll find a lot of choices to find that perfect one.
The information in this buyer’s guide can arm you with the wisdom you’ll need to choose the right kettle that will fit your preferences and needs. It will be easy to make a great choice once you identify exactly what you need. Once you find a tea kettle that boils water at a good rate of speed, that has a comfortable and easy-to-use handle, that is durable and cleans easily then you will always have a great cup of tea that you’ll enjoy making.