When it comes to making hot drinks like tea, coffee, or hot cocoa, there’s no better tool than a kettle. In fact, you can heat water for baby formula and oatmeal, too. These devices are heat safe and can be used against direct heat, like on the stovetop.
You don’t have to be an avid tea drinker for a tea kettle to be useful. It’s a must-have for every kitchen. This guide will tell you everything there is to know about tea kettles and also suggest some of the best products you can buy.
Types of Tea Kettles
There are two primary types of tea kettles and one-third option that you may want to look for. Some rely on external heat sources while others have heating elements built-in.
Stovetop tea kettles can be used as a direct source of heat. They have flat bottoms and sit directly on the stove. Their shape and material are designed to heat water evenly. Traditional tea kettles whistle when the water boils, but there are more modern designs that don’t.
These types of kettles are simple in design, easy to use, and generally cheaper than other types. You can get whistling teapots, gooseneck tea kettles, and many other shapes and designs.
Electric cooktops are flat and tend to heat the water more slowly than gas. Placing a kettle on a gas stovetop means that it will likely come in direct contact with the flames, and it will heat up very quickly. You need to shop for a tea kettle compatible with your stove type.
If you have a glass stovetop, make sure you find a tea kettle compatible with it to decrease the risk of damaging your kettle and your glass stovetop, because both can be equally fragile. Induction stovetops only work on certain materials, but there are still tea kettles available that will work on induction cooktops. Make sure, if you have a stovetop like this, you find a tea kettle that is compatible.
Electric tea kettles typically feature rapid boiling technology. They’re self-contained tea kettles that have a built-in heating element. They either have a heating element in the kettle itself or they come with a base or pedestal that contains the heating element.
These devices have to be plugged in to work but can heat your water more rapidly than a stovetop variety. They tend to be a bit more energy-efficient, and some models come with a lot of extra features. These types of tea kettles offer safety, versatility, and user-friendly designs. They’re portable and can be used almost anywhere, even if you don’t have access to a stove. They’re great options for the office or dorm room.
Generally, microwave-safe options are also safe on the stovetop, but it’s worth noting that some models you can use in the microwave. The microwave doesn’t heat water as evenly as the stove or an electric kettle, which means you’ll end up with pockets of water that are too hot and those that are too cold.
Nevertheless, it’s a viable option for increased functionality and versatility when you don’t have an electric kettle or a stovetop.
Tea Kettle Materials
Tea kettles come in a variety of materials, and each has its own advantages. There’s no right or wrong answer. A lot of it has to do with personal preference and intended use.
Stainless steel is sleek and durable, so these tea kettles are some of the most common. It can withstand heavy use without a lot of damage and it’s easy to clean. Most are made with premium stainless steel that tarnishes and is rust-resistant.
Stainless steel kettles will vary in weight based on how dense the material is, but in general, they are heavier than similar glass or porcelain varieties. Because stainless steel conducts heat well, they also tend to heat the water faster than other materials.
Cast iron has excellent heat retention abilities, so while it may take more time to heat your water, it will stay consistently hot for longer than other materials. While bare cast iron can tarnish and rust, most modern cast iron kettles are protected by a coat of enamel to prevent damage.
Enamel coatings can chip, so cast iron should be handled with care. However, this material makes for some of the best kettles because they maintain their temperature even after you remove them from the heat source. These kettles can also be very heavy and expensive, but if you invest in a quality cast iron tea kettle and care for it properly, it’s likely to last a lifetime.
Aluminum is lightweight and affordable, so it’s a great tea kettle material for people who drink tea on occasion. It’s not as durable as other materials because it will tarnish and show scratches and dents more easily. This type of tea kettle is best for people who want to display something stylish in their kitchen but who only use it intermittently.
Copper tea kettles are some of the most gorgeous pieces of kitchenware you will find, and this material conducts heat even better than stainless steel. It will heat quickly, but when removed from the heat, it will also lose heat quickly.
Copper should be handled with care because it’s a soft metal that can scratch and dent easily. You should also polish it occasionally to keep it shiny. Maintenance and care is a bit more difficult on a tea kettle like this, but it’s worth it for such a gorgeous material.
Believe it or not, borosilicate glass – like the kind used to make glass tea kettles – is designed to be used in direct contact with a heat source. It won’t crack or shatter, even if it comes in direct contact with the flames on your gas stovetop.
While you can’t subject these to quick, drastic temperature changes, glass is resilient to extreme heat and cold, so it can be used on the stovetop and in the refrigerator. You’ll also have to use care when handling because a tall drop could break it, even though this glass is designed to be more durable.
Glass is easy to clean, and because it’s transparent, you can monitor the status of your water as it heats. You can also observe limescale build-up as it happens and catch it early enough to prevent it from being a problem. Glass is one of the most sanitary tea kettle materials because it doesn’t release chemicals or toxins into your water as it heats.
Ceramic tea kettles are very decorative, but they’re also designed to be useful. They’re lightweight, easy to clean, smooth, and rust-resistant. They don’t introduce flavors or odors into your water, and many of them come with matching tea cups.
This is the perfect type of tea kettle for entertaining because you and your guests can enjoy your tea out of something decorative that matches. However, ceramic is easy to chip and it’s prone to chattering, so it should be handled with care.
Porcelain kettles are often made of metal and coated in a porcelain enamel. Putting porcelain enamel on metal kettles keeps them from rusting and can give them a very vibrant color that they otherwise wouldn’t have. While porcelain is smooth and easy to clean, it can also chip. This reveals the metal body which can ruin the look and leave the metal at risk of corrosion.
Plastic kettles are lightweight and affordable. You can find electric kettles that have plastic bodies, and you can find stovetop tea kettles that have plastic components. Many people don’t like plastic cookware because of the fear that it may leach scents, flavors, and chemicals into your water.
If you are purchasing a plastic tea kettle, you should look for one that’s BPA-free so you know it’s food and drink safely. Plastic isn’t as durable as other materials and it won’t last as long, but its affordability makes it a great option for occasional tea drinkers.
Tea Kettle Capacity
It’s important to consider the capacity of a tea kettle to determine its usability in your household. They range in capacity quite a lot, so the size you need will depend on how much water you need to boil and how often.
Less than 1 quart
This small tea kettle will hold less than 1 quart of water. One quart is 4 U.S. cups of 8 ounces, so this size will serve 4-6 people if you’re using a standard 5-ounce tea cup. However, it may only serve 2-3 people if you’re making pour-over coffee, oatmeal, or something else that requires bigger servings.
Small tea kettles like these are lighter, easier to pour, and convenient for storing, so they’re great choices for people who only need it occasionally. You can simply put it away at the back of the cabinet until next time.
This size is pretty standard. It will serve 6-12 standard cups of tea and is well equipped to handle most daily needs, whether it’s tea, coffee, or baby formula. For reference, 1 quart is equal to approximately 1 liter, which is another common measurement for tea kettles.
If purchasing a tea kettle this large, an electric kettle is a fantastic option, especially if it has a keep warm setting. Boiling a full pot in the morning and keeping it warm all day long will supply most of your needs at home or the office.
For chefs, avid tea and coffee drinkers, or new moms who make a lot of bottles, this is much more convenient than a stovetop model. It’s also a great option for large recipes that call for hot water.
Over 3 quarts
These large-capacity kettles will serve a lot of people without the need for refilling, so they’re great for large groups. They can be quite large and heavy, making them difficult to pour and store, but many of them have spigots that allow you to dispense the water without lifting or tipping it.
This is convenient for things like sweet tea, but may not be ideal for pour-over coffee, which relies on intricate and skilled pouring methods to extract maximum flavor.
Tea Kettle Features
There are plenty of features, even on the simplest tea kettles. The features most useful to you will depend on how often you use the kettle and what you use it for.
This is the most telltale sign that your water is boiling. Standard tea kettles rely on steam to create the noise, and it’s a great feature for a stovetop kettle. It reminds you that you have water heating on the stove so you don’t turn it on, walk away, and forget.
It’s hard to ignore the whistle, which is a great feature for the absent-minded tea drinker. For many of us, it also calls to memory Grandma’s house, where there was always water boiling for tea.
Cool touch handle
The handle is arguably one of the most important components of your tea kettle. It’s what enables you to pour the water! Most people want to be able to lift their tea kettle without assistance from an oven mitt.
If the tea kettle doesn’t indicate that it has a heatproof or cool touch handle, you should be able to tell pretty easily based on the material. If it’s coated in a thick, black plastic, it’s probably at least heat resistant.
While this isn’t a required feature for some people, others will find it very useful. The elegant and elongated shape of the gooseneck spout is ideal for controlling your pour. When it’s critical that you get just the right flow rate for pour over coffee or loose tea leaves, this spout will do the trick.
Some flow faster than others, but the ideal gooseneck spout will respond quickly to just a slight tilt of your wrist, making them incredibly easy to use and great at preventing splashes and spills.
Electric kettles often shutoff automatically. It may happen when it’s done heating your water to the desired temperature, or it may be after a 1-hour Keep Warm cycle. You don’t have to sit and watch this kettle because it will simply turn off when it’s done.
This is a convenient feature for many people, and a very safe one. If you take advantage of the Keep Warm setting, the kettle can keep your water at the desired temperature, even without the heating element on.
Most electric kettles are capable of boiling water very rapidly. While certain stovetop kettles will do the same, it’s largely dependent on the material. Electric models will boil rapidly, no matter what the kettle is made of.
They’ll bring your water to a boil in just a minute or two, so you can enjoy your beverage nearly instantly instead of having to wait and monitor the kettle until it’s done.
Water level indicator
When your tea kettle is glass, it’s easy to see how much water is in the pot and whether or not it’s boiling. However, tea kettles made with other materials may have gauges, windows, or digital readouts that show you how much water is inside.
While it’s more common on larger kettles, it’s a convenient feature when you have a large group of people who may be going back for more water and draining the kettle.
Many stovetop tea kettles have built-in thermometers to help you monitor the temperature. This is a convenient feature when you want to warm your water to a temperature less than boiling.
These thermometers can help you heat your water and maintain its temperature, although it will require a manual effort.
Some premium tea kettles even have built-in stopwatches so you can time your pouring increments precisely. For those who enjoy pour over coffee, you know it’s critical to time your pours to extract maximum flavor from your grounds. For some tea drinkers, this is also important.
Variable temperature control
Some electric kettles come with temperature control settings that allow you to heat the water to preset or custom temperatures. Some will allow you to select from a number of preset temperatures they determine for you while others allow you to dial into an exact temperature of your choice.
Either way, this is a versatile feature that gives you the ability to heat your water to different temperatures that might work better for a variety of drinks. For instance, lower temperatures are better for delicate teas while just under boiling temperature is great for pour over coffee.
Limescale buildup can be a problem when using tap water, and it can damage your tea kettle. While glass tea kettles are easy to keep clear of limescale because you can immediately see it building up, other materials are harder to control. Limescale filters help you detect when limescale is present so you can get it cleaned up.
Best Tea Kettle Options
Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, here are some great tea kettle options for you to consider. I can highly recommend any of these, but it all depends on what you’re looking for.
The thick, borosilicate glass of this teapot is sturdy and durable. I always hesitate to keep glass tea kettles around because I have 4 small kids at home, but this one seems to be holding up really well.
This tea kettle is traditional and classy. It’s shaped with curves that resemble a standard teapot, but it’s made of glass and stainless steel. It feels sturdy and it offers a lot of function, but it still looks very beautiful in the kitchen.
You can use this glass teapot directly on the stovetop, but it’s also dishwasher safe, making it easy to keep clean. You can also use it in the microwave and in the refrigerator. It holds 1 liter of water, which is great for 2 people on a daily basis.
You can boil water on the stove and infuse your tea before putting it in the fridge, or you can pop it in the microwave when you’re in a hurry.
This tea kettle has a long spout, much like a gooseneck, that gives you more control over flow rate and pouring. It’s easy to use for pour over coffee without the splashing or spilling, but you can also enjoy it with tea and still avoid the mess.
The ergonomic handle is comfortable, which helps you to control how you pour even more. The non-drop indentation at the tip of the spout means that you can pour the water and set it back down without worrying about it dripping on the counter.
If you’re like me, you subconsciously move your fingers up to the lid to hold it in place while you pour your tea. However, this lid locks into place so it won’t topple off as you tilt the kettle. You only need one hand to pour.
You’ll get even and quick warming with this teak kettle. Its shape is ideal for heating water evenly without heating up the handle or the lid. It won’t be hot to the touch. It’s sturdy and durable, but it feels light enough to control your pour with just one hand.
- Classic glass and stainless steel design
- Stovetop, microwave, dishwasher, and fridge safe
- Non-drip spout and spill-proof lid
- Not a very wide opening for leaves
If you like to infuse blooming teas, this is the right tea kettle for you. It will also handle loose tea leaves with its included infuser. This modern glass teapot with stainless steel infuser and it is sturdy and functional.
The annealing process used to test this tea kettle ensures that it’s heat-safe, even directly on the stovetop. It won’t crack or break. While it hasn’t been tested for the microwave, you can use it on the stovetop with no problem.
The opening of this teapot is wide enough that you can fit your hand and a sponge in, making it easy to clean. However, it’s also dishwasher safe, so you can throw it in the dishwasher after every use so you don’t have to worry about washing it by hand.
The cap on this tea kettle locks into place so it won’t spill when you pour. Insert the lid into the teapot and then twist the cap into place to lock it. The lid can be used with or without the infuser, so you can use it with blooming tea, tea leaves, or pour over coffee.
Perfect for blooming tea
Not only is the design of this tea kettle modern and attractive, but its shape lends it to blooming tea. Heat the water, and right before it boils, place the blooming tea into the pot and watch it unfurl.
You can watch the process from start to finish through the transparent glass and leave the bloom in the pot until you’re done drinking it. You can use blooms more than once, steeping it longer each time to extract more flavor.
- Modern design
- Wide mouth
- Dishwasher safe
- Spill-proof cap
- Perfect for blooming tea
- Glass is thinner than other models
Upgrading to an electric gooseneck kettle gives you more features. This particular model has preset temperature controls that allows you to heat your water more precisely for different drinks. At the price, this is also a great value.
Each temperature preset has a suggestion under it. At 180 degrees, you’re good to go for delicate teas, while at 200 degrees, you’ll get a great pour over coffee. And of course, 212 degrees is boiling.
This kettle shuts off when it reaches your desired temperature as an added safety feature. The great thing about it is that even after it turns off, it will illuminate the temperature you chose so you won’t forget.
It’s very sturdy and doesn’t rock the pedestal when it boils. It also has a Keep Warm feature so you can maintain the exact temperature you want for up to an hour before it automatically shuts off again.
It’s super easy to control the flow through this gooseneck kettle, so you can use it for pour over coffee with ease, but it’s also great for tea. The 1-liter capacity heats enough water for multiple people, but it does make it heavier than other options, because it’s built with great materials and it’s so durable.
The outside of this kettle will get very hot to the touch when you use it, so it’s not great for households like mine with small kids who like to touch things. It can also make it difficult to pour because there aren’t any additional cool touch points outside of the handle.
- Sturdy stainless steel
- Temperature control and presets
- Illuminated buttons and audible beeps
- Keep warm option
- Easy to control pour
- Outside of kettle gets hot
- No celsius reading
The 1.5-liter capacity of this kettle is huge, so it’s a great option for get togethers. It features a brushed stainless steel look that’s sleek and modern. Despite its name, it’s also a great way to heat water for tea at the office.
Stainless steel construction
The stainless steel construction is sturdy and durable. It’s sleek and modern looking and is the perfect asset in any kitchen.
Quick fill lid
The hinged lid makes it easy to flip up and fill with water, and you won’t have to worry about taking the lid off and misplacing it. It also ensures that the lid doesn’t fall off while you’re pouring the water.
The lid contains a built-in thermometer that allows you to monitor your water’s temperature. While you can’t set it to heat to a specific temperature, with a little effort, you can reach and maintain the temperature you need for your beverages.
Although this kettle has a cool touch handle, it also has a removable silicone jacket that gives you even more cool touch points to protect your hands so you can have more control when you pour.
I love this kettle because its capacity is huge and the gooseneck spout makes it so easy to pour. It has just the right amount of features in a stovetop kettle and it’s incredibly affordable.
- Removable silicone jacket
- Speedy-fill hinged lid
- 1.5 liter capacity
- Built-in swiveling thermometer
- Heavy when full
Question: How do I choose the right kettle?
Answer: The right kettle for you will feel balanced, even when it’s full. Everybody is different, so it’s a personal preference. The handle should feel comfortable in your hand, and it should have all the features you need to enjoy your favorite beverage.
You also want to make sure it’s made of a material that works for you. If you live in a home with small kids, a breakable material might not work. However, if your tea kettle won’t get a lot of use, you won’t want to make a huge investment.
Question: What’s the difference between a tea kettle and a teapot?
Answer: These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. A tea kettle is a device you use that heats the water. Once the water is hot, the teapot is the vessel you pour the water in. A teapot is what steeps the tea until it’s ready to drink.
However, many tea kettles on the market today come with infusers that allow you to both heats the water, infuse the tea, and let it steep. Kettles are also used for heating water to use in pour over coffee and other beverages like hot cocoa.
Question: What is a normal size tea kettle?
Answer: Most tea kettles are 1-2 liters. This is the ideal size for most people. It’s large enough to make multiple cups but not too large to pour. However, there are smaller and bigger varieties for people who need those sizes.
Question: Do all tea kettles whistle when ready?
Answer: Not all tea kettles whistle. Whistling tea kettles have devices in the spout that create the whistling sound as air blows through, which is what happens when the water boils and the kettle releases steam.
Kettles without this device won’t whistle. While the whistling tea kettle is more traditional, there are many different more modern varieties on the market today.
Question: What is the safest tea kettle material?
Answer: Glass is the safest, most pure material for teapots and tea kettles. It’s made of quality borosilicate glass that doesn’t release toxins or chemicals into the water as it boils.
Tea kettles might be a tad overwhelming to shop for, but if you know what to look for, you should be able to narrow down your choices with ease. My personal favorite is the Coffee Gator True Brew kettle because it can be used for coffee or tea. It’s made with quality, it’s the perfect size, and it’s easy to pour.
If you’d rather have an electric kettle, the Willow & Everett kettle with temperature controls has great features and offers excellent value. It doesn’t matter which tea kettle you choose, it will work great for you if it has the features you need.