With a little homework, you can find the pot that fits your family’s needs.
All electric teakettles are not created equal. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, have varying degrees of wattage, and can contain various safety features. Don’t get intimidated though! Picking the right electric tea kettle is hardly a chore, and may just become one of your most used and beloved kitchen appliances.
Here’s how to make sense of all the different features when choosing an electric tea kettle.
For the Timer-Saver in All of Us
One thing that most electric tea kettles have in common is that they save quite a bit of time. If you were to run a little science experiment and test this claim using a stove top tea kettle and a microwave, you’d see the efficiency first hand. A stove top tea kettle, filled with just five cups of water (the amount used to make two large mugs of tea) will generally take around five minutes to boil on typical electric glass-top stove set on “high.” The time is relatively similar using a microwave. In contrast, a nifty 1500-watt (120-volt) electric tea kettle can boil that amount of water in roughly two-and-a-half minutes.
Of course, everything depends on the type, power, and efficiency of your microwave and stove, as well as whether you choose one of the powerful 1500-watt (120-volt) electric teakettles.
For the Tea Lover
Do you like to drink a lot of different types of teas? Certain varieties, including white, green, oolong, herbal, and Rooibos are temperature sensitive and develop their flavors best when steeping in water below boiling (212° F).
If you’re drinking any of these types of teas, look for a programmable temperature feature so you have the option to set the temperature between 110 to 212° Fahrenheit; or choose an electric kettle with pre-programmed temperature settings, which base their temperature on the type of tea you’re brewing.
If you like to sip tea throughout the day, you’d do well to choose a model with a ‘stay-warm’ feature that can be set between 110 and 190 Fahrenheit.
For Families with Small Children
Does the thought of little fingers reaching up to the stove or microwave set you in a panic? If you have little ones running around, check for an electric teakettle made of plastic instead of stainless steel or glass, as both of these can get dangerously hot.
Here are a few safety features to look for:
- A UL safety rating
- A locking lid
- An automatic boil shutoff
- An on/off switch with a power indicator
- A concealed heating element
- A drip-free spout
- A ‘stay-cool’ handle with a non-slip, rubberized grip
The UL Safety rating standards let you know that many specific elements of the unit have been tested for safety and protection against injury, including the kettle’s cord, handle, heating element, and stability. They even do a “no-tip” test; this is especially important when grabby little hands may be reaching up.
Both right- and left-handed family members can safely and easily use electric teakettles with a 360-degree rotating base, plus, in-base cord storage means no dangling cords for children to grab.
Once you have chosen the safest possible electric tea kettle for your family and tested it, older kids can make their own hot chocolate, instant macaroni and cheese, hot cereal, soups, and any other instant food or drink made with boiling water.
You can also create a safe steam bath to help clear a stuffy nose by transferring boiling water to a bowl and covering your head to help breathe in the steam.
For the Avid Home Chef
Most electric tea kettles boil less than two quarts or liters. That’s not quite enough water to fill and cook a large pot of spaghetti, but it is the perfect size for pre-boiling water for anything you would use a smaller saucepan for, like heating sauce or gravy mixes, blanching or cooking vegetables, reconstituting dried mushrooms, or plumping raisins for baking.
You can also use your electric tea kettle for boiling water for other kitchen and household cleaning tasks, like soaking burnt pots and pans, and clearing clogged drains.
But, if you must watch the water boil, choose a stunning see-through glass kettle. If you’re afraid of the heat, look for one made with glass from SCHOTT, Inc. which is thermal resistant and doesn’t get as dangerously hot as other glass models.
Is it tea time yet?