Whether you heat your water on the stovetop or by just pressing a button, there is never a wrong way of heating water to make a great cup of tea. The traditional stovetop kettle appeals to many of us, with its classic style and whistle, or for those of us who do not like waiting too long for water to boil, the electric kettle gives us greater efficiency.In this article we look in greater detail at the differences between these two types of kettle as well as reviewing a selection of bestselling stovetop and electric tea kettles. We hope that by the end of the article we will have helped you to choose the best tea kettle for your home.
The Circulon 1.5 quart Sunrise tea kettle (bell pepper red) is our best pick for its traditional whistle and suitability for all stove tops.
The Café Brew Collection WK112 glass kettle assembled in the US is our BPA-free and dishwasher safe budget pick.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Tea Kettles
1. Circulon 1.5 Quart Sunrise Tea Kettle
The Circulon 1.5 quart Sunrise tea kettle (bell pepper red) is a stovetop kettle that can heat up to six cups of water. Its squeeze and pour spout is part of the handle for ease of use, although the spout may ‘sputter’ if you pour too quickly or do not hold the kettle at quite the right angle.It is suitable for all stove tops, including induction and made from carbon steel, its lid is stainless steel. The steel is coated with attractive red enamel for easy cleaning and it also has a lead-free enamel interior. This is a whistling kettle that comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
2. Café Brew Collection WK112 Glass Kettle
The stovetop Café Brew Collection WK112 glass kettle is assembled in the US from Schott DURAN borosilicate heat resistant glass from Germany. It has a 12 cup capacity, a heat tolerant handle and a drip-free spout. This kettle is only suitable for using on a low burner to minimize the risk of damage to the handle.It is a traditional whistling kettle that also comes with a metal heat diffusing trivet that you must use if you have electric range coils. It is free from BPA and dishwasher safe.
3. Zeppoli Electric Kettle
The Zeppoli electric kettle is glass with stainless steel accents. It is a 1500 watts cordless kettle that allows 360° rotation on its base. The handle is heat-resistant and anti-slip and contains food grade silicone. There is no BPA in this kettle. The lid is easy opening and wider for easier filling, although some users may experience looseness with the lid fitting at times.The spout has a filter to strain out any impurities when pouring and its LED light shows when heating. Once boiling, it will automatically shut off after 30 seconds. It takes between 5 and 6 minutes for 1.7l to boil.
4. OXO Classic Tea Kettle
The OXO Classic tea kettle is a traditional shaped kettle made from high grade 18/8 stainless steel, although it can still be susceptible to some rusting. Its heat resistant handle rotates out of the way when filling through its large opening. The spout cap has a silicone touch spot for when you need to open it for easy pouring. This is a 1.7 quart whistling kettle.
5. Fino Pour Over Coffee Kettle
The Fino pour over coffee kettle has a 1l (6 cup capacity). Made from 18/8 stainless steel in Japan, it has a narrow gooseneck spout that slows down pouring to help maximize flavor from tea and coffee. The handle is thermoplastic and high temperature and this kettle is suitable for electric, induction and gas stovetops, although it does not have a whistle function. It is also dishwasher safe.Like any stainless steel kettle, it can be prone to rusting over its lifetime, you can help reduce some of the risk by draining and drying off between uses.
6. Revere Whistling Tea Kettle
The 2⅓ quart Revere whistling tea kettle is high quality stainless steel with a mirror finish. It has a signature copper bottom for faster heating. It has an easy-grip black phenolic handle which stays cool to touch. The manufacturer advises to only use on a low or medium burner and it needs emptying after each use. This kettle comes with a one year limited warranty. Some users may find that the spout cover is loose and that this may be more prone to heat damage than comparable products.
7. Chef’s Secret Tea Kettle
The 2¾ quart Chef’s Secret tea kettle is made from four-layered T-304 stainless steel with a copper center capsule bottom for faster heating. It has a secure riveted handle with a heat-resistant grip and the spout cap is away from the grip to minimize burn risk, although for extra safety you may want to use a potholder, particularly if you have larger hands. This is a traditional whistling kettle.Although suitable for induction cooktops, some users may find this kettle incompatible with specific cooktops, so if you do have an induction stove, you may want to check with the manufacturer before buying.
8. Cuisinart CTK-SS17 Tea Kettle
The Cuisinart CTK-SS17 tea kettle is a 2 quart traditional stovetop whistling kettle made from stainless steel. Like any stainless steel kettles, it may be prone to rusting so you should dry out between uses to try to reduce the risk of rusting. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
9. KitchenAid KEK1222ER Electric Kettle
The empire red KitchenAid KEK1222ER electric kettle has 1.25l capacity. It is a 1500 watts cordless kettle with auto shut-off that can rotate 360° on its base. It has a stainless steel body with an aluminum handle. Its interior is BPA-free, although it does have some plastic components under its water levels. It comes with a one year hassle-free replacement warranty.
10. Circulon Circles Tea Kettle, Capri Turquoise
The Circulon Circles tea kettle (Capri turquoise) is a 2 quart stovetop tea kettle with a one-touch spout for easy use. Made from solid steel, this whistling kettle has an easy clean enamel exterior. As it also has an enamel interior it may be more prone to chipping.This kettle comes with a lifetime limited warranty and you may want to use it on a low burner to minimize the chance of too much heat getting to the spout cap or durable handle.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Tea Kettle
An important thing to think about when buying your new kettle is how many people you will need to brew for. If there is just you and a partner, you may prefer a smaller model, while a larger family tends to need a kettle with more capacity. When reviewing the capacity of kettles, also look at how quickly it will take to heat the water - there is nothing worse than sitting around waiting for the kettle to boil!
When you pick up a kettle it should feel balanced in your hand, the lid needs to be easy to remove for filling and the design of the spout should allow easy pouring. The handle should be heat resistant or heatproof, which means that you can use the kettle without a potholder.
Having a whistle on the stovetop kettle or the auto-shut off on the electric kettle are the key safety features that stop kettles from boiling dry and being damaged or in extreme cases, causing a fire. If you live in the mountains, you also need to keep an eye on an electric kettle as its lower boiling point may not always trigger its auto shut-off.
About the Kettle
Around five thousand years ago, the Mesopotamians were using bronze kettles with decorated spouts. Other early kettles were made from early iron or copper and used for cooking. These eventually evolved into tea kettles, many of which were distinctive to the countries or parts of the world where they evolved.
The first electric kettle appeared in the UK in the 1890s. It was a copper and brass kettle with an electric heating coil outside of it. In 1922, some other UK engineers devised a heating coil inside a metal tube that could sit in the water. Because these ‘Swan’ kettles used so much power, it was not unheard of for the kettle to melt or even set the counter on fire. A brass rod was later added to the kettle’s plug – if the kettle got too hot, the rod would expand to push the plug out and break the electrical circuit.
In 1955, the UK company Russell Hobbs introduced the K1 kettle which had a thermostat to turn off the power when the kettle began to boil. This simple shut-off thermostat is still the main safety feature of today’s electric kettles!
Benefits of the Electric Kettle
Electric kettles are usually faster than stovetops, taking around four minutes or so to boil and are easy to use. They also use less energy than a stovetop kettle.
As well as the auto shut-off, other useful features include the water gauge, so you know how water much is in the kettle at any time and the cordless base or detachable cord. Some cordless bases can store excess cord, keeping it out of the way. Some kettles have a keep warm function, ideal if you need to break off when using, or you need early refills.
Depending on what kind of tea you prefer, there are also the newer generation of electric kettles which allow minor temperature adjustments. Although most black tea best suits a rolling boil at around 212°F, a lower temperature such as between 160°F and 185°F will suit more delicate teas such as green and white teas.
All About the Stovetop Kettle
Although the stovetop kettle is slower than the electric kettle it does offer traditional styling to your kitchen and if your power outlets are already overloaded in the kitchen, then the stovetop kettle may be the solution. Stovetop kettles are available in a variety of materials such as cast iron, copper and stainless steel.
- Cast iron kettles are durable but can be quite costly. They take a long time to heat, but heat evenly and keep hotter for longer, making them ideal for refills. You cannot leave water sitting in a cast iron kettle as it will rust; it needs draining and drying in between uses. Some cast iron kettles may have an enamel lining. Although these can help reduce the risk of rusting, enamel is prone to chipping, so they need handling with care. Some tea enthusiasts also say that iron from cast-iron kettles will leach into the water, not only supplying extra iron intake but also improving the flavor of tea.
- Copper stovetop kettles boil quickly and although they look very traditional, they will scratch and dent quickly as copper is a soft metal. Copper also needs regular polishing to keep its glow. Some people say there is a slight copper tang in tea made from copper-boiled water, but like any taste matters – it all boils down – or up - to personal preferences.
- Stainless steel kettles are common in many kitchens. Stainless steel is generally good value, keeps its shiny finish, is harder wearing and does not alter the taste of the water. Stainless steel kettles are prone to rusting though, so should be dried out in between uses. Because stainless steel also gets extremely hot, if your new tea kettle does not have a heat resistant handle you will need to use a potholder to pick it up.
- Carbon steel is harder than stainless steel but rusts easier, so a carbon steel kettle is usually enamel coated to keep the steel out of direct contact with water.
- Enamel kettles are usually enamel coated steel or even cast iron and they are easy to keep clean. Although the enamel coating will help reduce corrosion or rust, enamel is quite fragile which means the enamel kettle is more prone to chips and cracks.
Love it or hate it – the whistle is a key safety feature for a stovetop kettle. Unless you stay in the kitchen when boiling the kettle, having a whistle ensures the kettle will not boil dry. Boiling a kettle dry will damage its finish and can also damage its core construction.
The spout cap on a whistling kettle has two holes. Steam passes through the first hole and the pressure that builds up from this pushes a narrower jet of steam through the second hole or whistle. Because pressure between these two holes is unstable, it causes the whistle to ‘waver’ before it starts its full whistling.
Removing Hard Water Build Up from an Electric Kettle
Scaling occurs when mineral deposits such as calcium and magnesium found in hard water build up in a kettle or other appliance. Also known as limescale, this can affect how well the kettle works, as well as deposit mineral fragments into the water. Because the minerals stay in the kettle after boiling, they begin to build up and harden– you can see this build up as a milky colored layer on the inside of the kettle.
You can buy ready mixed solutions to clean hard water build up, or you can make a mildly acidic solution at home. You just need to add a 50:50 mix of water and vinegar to the kettle and boil. Leave the solution in the kettle for around 15 minutes, pour away and add fresh water. Rinse a couple of times, then re-boil and pour away. The kettle should be free from any traces of vinegar and minerals.
You can also clean a stovetop kettle with vinegar solution – just leave to stand for around an hour before pouring the solution away.
A similar mix of two cups of water and an ounce of lemon or lime, or even some fresh lemon slices in half a kettle of water will also work the same way.
A little baking soda on a soft cloth rubbed around the inside of a kettle will remove any remaining mineral residue and if the kettle filter is built up with scale, then you can leave to soak in pure vinegar for a few minutes then rinse well.
The stovetop kettle may be more your cup of tea than an electric model, not least because of the traditional statement it makes in any type of kitchen. You may prefer the enamel coated steel kettle with a whistle for its bright colors and easy cleaning, or a stainless steel model with a gooseneck for slower pouring and better brewing.However, if your tastes do run more to the electric tea kettle, then we have also reviewed some of the favorites currently available. We do hope that you have found these reviews useful and that they have helped you in your search for the best tea kettle to make the best cup of tea.