Tea kettles have been a staple in countless kitchens for years and years. Although they commonly have the word "tea" in their name, these kettles can be used for a wide range of culinary uses, including coffee brewing, and even boiling eggs.
The invention of the electric kettle in 1891 brought about a shift in the market for kettles that really began to boom in the 1920's and 30's. These electric kettles offered an alternative to heating water without the use of a stove. Astechnology has progressed, so have electric kettles.
How Do Electric Kettles Work?
Conventional kettles operate by simply being heated on the bottom of the kettle's body until desired water temperature is achieved. Electric tea kettles are a little more complicated, but also more efficient.
When using an electric tea kettle, electricity moves through an element, which then generates heat and transfers it to the water. When the water reaches its boiling point, steam warms a metal strip that curves.
The heating connection is broken by the curve, which prevents electricity from reaching the heating element, acting as a sort of auto shutoff. This in turn prevents the water from heating past boiling point and eventually evaporating or overheating the unit if left unattended.
Electric tea kettles have a more complicated process for heating the water, but can actually be more energy efficient. The auto shutoff also makes them safer.
Although once considered a luxury, electric tea kettles have grown in popularity and use since being introduced, and are now found in millions of homes.
Shopping For Electric Tea Kettles
Looking to make the switch to an electric kettle? Perhaps you are just seeking an upgrade, or a model more geared towards what you need it for.
There are countless kettles available now, making it a fairly arduous task when searching for the best electric tea kettle that suits your needs. The information below will go a long way in helping you reach a decision.
Advantages of Electric Tea Kettles
Electric tea kettles offer a variety of uses and advantages over standard kettles that require external heating. While conventional kettles aren't necessarily inferior, they do lack in many areas when compared to their electric counterparts. These are some of the bigger advantages worth noting.
Perhaps the biggest reason that many people opt for electric tea kettles is the convenience they offer. These kettles are simple to use, and require no external heat source. Some versions of electric kettles have their heat source built in, while others are made to be used with a base that heats the kettle.
At minimum, the kettle has a function that allows you to heat it with the press of a button. Others have programmable timers that allow you to determine when it turns on. There are even electric kettles that can heat the water to a specific temperature, which makes the ideal for brewing both coffee and tea.
Electric tea kettles also provide a safer option for those that may forget to turn their stoves off, or forget that they are heating a kettle in the first place, as some may offer automatic shut off after running a heating cycle.
Overall, electric tea kettles offer an easy way to heat up water for any culinary use calling for it.
If you've used a conventional kettle before, you're very aware of how long the process can sometimes take. It can seem like an eternity from the time you fill the kettle to when the water is actually ready for use, especially if your stove has gas burners.
Electric tea kettles are much more efficient in their use of energy, and can heat up a full kettle in half the time it takes for a stovetop version. This can be very beneficial if you are in a hurry to brew coffee and tea – and who isn't?
This was stated earlier, but worth mentioning again. Many electric kettles have the ability to heat water to a specific temperature. This is a great amenity to those who need water just below boiling point for things such as French presses, pour over coffee brewers, and loose leaf teas.
You may be aiming for a certain temperature when using a stove top kettle, but have no real way of knowing if you're close or not. You really have a few options: boiling, a few minutes cooled off after boiling, or right before boiling. Sticking a thermometer in the water might do the trick, but is not a very safe method.
Programmable electric tea kettles are a great remedy to such an issue, and can be depended on to stop precisely on your desired temperature. This is not only convenient, but saves time as well. If you are trying to heat your water to a point below boiling, going past the desired mark will result in you having to wait for the water to cool back down to the desired level.
If you brew coffee with a pour over drip brewer, you know very well the importance of precise temperatures, and many electric kettles can provide just that.
Types of Electric Kettles
Electric tea kettles all perform the same job for the most part, but there are a few different classifications worth mentioning.
Gooseneck kettles are a favorite among pour over coffee enthusiasts. These strategically-designed kettles allow for easy pouring and calculated water flow by utilizing a specific spout design that resembles a goose neck somewhat.
The spout on a gooseneck kettle is very skinny, and protrudes upward from the bottom of the kettle's body in a sort of elongated 'S' shape. Because of this, the amount of water coming from the spout can be controlled significantly more than with a standard pour spout. This is especially helpful during the pour over brewing process, which relies on a calculated and even water flow to the coffee grounds in the filter.
Gooseneck kettles often feature an ergonomically-designed handle as well, making the act of pouring even easier. These kettles usually feature temperature-specific heating options, making them the ideal kettle choice for both coffee and tea.
You aren't going to find a kettle that offers more ease of pouring than a gooseneck version. Even the most inexperienced user will find the process easy. The added control of these kettles makes for a safe and smooth pouring experience, reducing splashing, which can be both messy and dangerous.
Gooseneck kettles are considered to be the best of the best. This means that you will be paying more than a standard kettle design. Many gooseneck kettles tend to be on the larger side as well, which may be a turn-off for certain people.
Gooseneck kettles are both elegant and highly functional. If you are a coffee or tea enthusiast who wants maximum control over your brewing, a gooseneck kettle should be your top priority. Standard gooseneck kettles already offer numerous benefits for brewing, so obtaining an electric version really pushes it over the top.
Whistling kettles are often what you picture first when thinking about kettles. These kettles have a built-in whistle within the spout that is set off when the water reaches a boil, which creates enough pressure and steam to "blow" the whistle, letting you know that the water is ready.
The whistling feature isn't specific to any one design of kettle, and can be found in electric models just as often as conventional stovetop kettles.
You'll always know when your water is boiling, and some people like the traditional overall vibe that whistling kettles provide.
The whistle only blows when the water is boiling, so you're left to guess what the temperature is otherwise. The whistling might not always be appreciated around your home, depending on the time of day or who is present.
If you want the vintage kettle experience, go with a whistling version. Numerous electric kettles still offer this feature, combining vintage and modern together in one package.
Stainless Steel Kettle
Kettles made from stainless steel are always a popular choice, electric or not. The stainless steel material is perfect for heat conduction, and offers easy cleanup if necessary. Stainless steel kettles are often preferred by those wanting a more sleek and aesthetically pleasing kettle as well. The vast majority of electric kettles are made with stainless steel, and for good reason.
Some kettles made from stainless steel can also feature vacuum technology that keeps the water hot for hours.
Stainless steel always looks sharp and clean, and is generally lightweight. The added durability is a bonus over other materials such as ceramic. If you drop your stainless steel kettle for some reason, there is a good chance it will be perfectly fine.
Stainless steel is resistant to rust, but it can still happen under the right conditions. Leaving your kettle on the burner for too long will not only cause the water to evaporate, but also create discoloring as well.
Stainless steel is the used the most often for electric kettles because of its durabilityand conduction. If you want the highest level of functionality while still having a great looking kettle, go for the stainless steel model.
Choosing an Electric Kettle
Deciding on the right electric kettle for yourself can be somewhat difficult when considering all of the choices available. Because of this, it is helpful to decide on a handful of factors before beginning the shopping process. Doing so will enable you to be efficient with your time while also providing assurance in whichever product you purchase.
Determining your budget beforehand will help you to focus within a certain range, effectively narrowing the choices even before considering additional factors. More expensive models often come with more features, so if you're wanting a kettle that does more than just turn on and off, be prepared to spend the money for it.
The Main Purpose of Your Kettle
Are you looking to purchase a new kettle for general usage, or a more specific task such as coffee brewing? If you are merely wanting a new electric kettle for basic home use, the design and added features may not be as important to you. Still, it's helpful to know what you need your kettle to be capable of doing before buying.
Electric kettles come in numerous sizes and capacities. If you have a large family or multiple inhabitants in your home, a larger sizedmodel will most likely be in order. If you live alone, look into personal-sized or smaller versions, as this will help you to save time while heating.
This is where a lot of differences exist between products. Some electric kettles offer minimal features, and are intended to simply get the job done. Others may have programmable features such as timers, specific temperature settings, auto on/off features, and notification systems. Knowing the features you are specifically looking for beforehand will point you in the right direction.
Cord or No Cord?
Many electric kettles are now available in cordless versions. If you are particular about the look of your kitchen, or want to put your kettle away in between uses, a cordless model is the way to go. Cordless models are also great for office settings, or anywhere else that isn't your kitchen, such as an overnight camping trip.
Kettles aren't exactly designed to serve as some sort of kitchen decoration, but that doesn't mean there aren't products available that have been designed with aesthetics in mind.
Innovation in style and materials used for electric kettles has provided many different looks for them. Whether you're looking for a kettle with a rich and vibrant appearance, or a modern and sleek design meant to compliment a minimalist kitchen look, you can be sure there is one right for you.