What to look for in a great tea kettle
A tea kettle review:
Brushed Stainless Steel Tea Kettle, Bonavita 1.7 Liter Digital Variable Temperature Electric Kettle
The importance of water temperature
Incorrect water temperature, too cold or too hot, will absolutely compromise and most likely ruin your cup of green tea. Water too cool will not extract enough of the flavor from the leaves, resulting in a lifeless and bland cup of tea lacking both fragrance and flavor.
On the other hand, if you purchase fabulously wonderful and expensive premium green tea leaves and then scald them with boiling water, the result will be a bitter cup of tea due partially to increased extraction of the bitter components (tannins) of the tea leaves into your water. Consequently, your money will be wasted, and sadly, you certainly won’t be able to enjoy the cup of tea as you intended. Most green teas taste best brewed at about 170F, which means if you boil the water you are about 42 degrees off! I’m convinced using water too hot for a cup of delicate green tea leaves is the reason many tea drinkers believe that they dislike green tea, opting for black tea or an herbal infusion of some sort instead.
So, if you are ready to move up from a simple digital thermometer (or no thermometer!) to an electric tea kettle which will deliver water at the perfect temperature for the perfect cup, read on for what to look for in an electric tea kettle followed by a review of a great tea kettle.
Using a digital thermometer (my previously preferred method) to measure water temperature is certainly easy, but it does require making some adjustments (sometimes multiple adjustments) to reach the perfect temperature, either by heating the water further or allowing it to cool to the desired temperature. If you drink lots of tea- you quickly realize how nice it is to be able to just push a button that results in a quick delivery of water at the perfect brewing temperature for your selected tea. Investing in a good electric tea kettle simplifies the process and reduces the time needed to make the perfect cup of green tea.
So…. what are the criteria for the “perfect” tea kettle??? It comes down mostly to appearance and function. I’m sure it varies from person to person, but for me- I really wanted a brushed stainless steel tea kettle. I think brushed stainless steel looks good over time without showing too much wear or change in appearance, and also easily complements any style of kitchen decor without looking out of place.
Regarding the function of the kettle, however, the number one priority has to be accurate water temperature with the option to set specific temperatures over a fairly wide range from low to high (boiling). Having the kettle hold the temperature at the user defined temperature for a lengthy period of time is a close second.
And it goes without saying the thing has to be user friendly, easy to clean, and durable. Don’t forget the material from which the tea kettle is manufactured should be non-toxic (minimal to no plastic, and BPA-free) and the design attractive– after all, it should look good sitting on the kitchen counter since you will want to use it frequently!
If you can find all of this (and you can) in a reasonably priced kettle, then you are well on your way to finally enjoying the perfect cup of green tea (or any other tea you choose).
Let’s summarize what we are looking for in a great tea kettle- both “must-have” features and those that are negotiable, but great to find:
Brushed stainless steel
Ability to set specific water temperature over a broad range of low to high temperatures
Kettle should hold water temperature at selected temperature for a significant period of time- preferably at least an hour
Minimal to no plastic parts, and BPA-free
Easy to clean
User-friendly/easy to use
Attractive design (looks good on counter top)
When comparing models and shopping for the best electric tea kettle it can quickly and easily become somewhat confusing- kind of like comparing mattresses, TVs, or appliances when every store has a different “version” of the same basic model. I found that it really is best to determine which options are most important to you, find the ones that have those options, then eliminate less desirable models based on expense, customer reviews, availability, and even merchant preference if you have one. For example, if you have a favorite store whose return policy you are comfortable with- it makes sense to consider that when making your purchase in case you change your mind or something isn’t working properly with your new tea kettle.
So, here are the features on the Bonavita 1.7 Liter Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle. I have been using this kettle for around 6 months now and love it. By the way, I am not connected in any way with this company or brand.
- Adjustable water temperature– you can set the temperature from 140F-212F, in one degree increments. This is a significant advantage in my opinion over other models which have preset temperatures only.
- Temperature display in real time.
- Holds water at desired/set temperature for up to 1 HOUR! You don’t have to reheat every time if you are having multiple cups of tea in one sitting.
- This is a brushed stainless steel tea kettle– it looks good with any décor and is attractive without being distracting or trendy.
- Gooseneck spout for precise pour control– this feature doesn’t matter all that much to me but it isn’t a problem either.
- Temperature will display in either Fahrenheit or Celsius.
- 1500 W for quick heating– and it definitely is fast. Sometimes I fill the kettle with refrigerated water straight from the water pitcher and even then, the water heats very quickly, even to boiling.
Additionally, this kettle is super easy to use. You basically turn it on, then set the temperature.
Here is a pic of the control pad:
To set the temperature, press the temp button multiple times to scroll through several preset temperatures, or adjust a preset temperature a degree at a time by pressing the + or – buttons. If you know you want to hold the temp for an hour, go ahead and press the “hold” button while the water heats. As the temperature starts to fall during the hour, the kettle will repeatedly and intermittently supply heat in order to keep the water at your set/preferred temperature. You do have to press the hold temperature button again after using the kettle (removing it from base), but that has not been a problem or inconvenient.
A word of caution…
Set your water temperature about 10 degrees higher than the temperature at which you want to brew your tea. I used my digital thermometer to verify the temperature in the kettle is accurate- it is exactly whatever you set the temperature on the control panel. However, the water cools 10-15 degrees on contact with the cooler room temperature cup- so if you set the water temp around 185, the water in your cup will be closer to 170. I do this routinely and the results have been perfect.
For your convenience, I researched a few comparable models and supplied their features and costs below for comparison to the Bonavita.
Bonavita Model 29615
Volume 1.7 L
Set temp by either preset, or in 1 degree increments. Heats from 140F-212F
60 min keep warm
Cost: approx. $110 (although I used a 20% off coupon at bed bath and beyond for cost of about $88)
Cuisinart Model CPK-17 (cordless)
Volume 1.7 L
6 temperature presets: 160F, 175F, 185F, 190F, 200F, and boil (212F)
30 min keep warm option
Cost: approx. $90-$100
Breville Model BKE820XL
Volume 1.7 L
5 temperature presets: 175F, 185F, 195F, 200F, 212F
20 min keep warm option
Cost: approx. $130
I’m sure there are pros and cons to each of these and many other models, but for me the freedom of having a wide range of temperature options and a long hold time is most important. The bonavita has those and several other options so I am quite happy with my purchase so far. Of course, you have to decide what is most important to you and make the best purchase for your particular needs. Regardless of which tea kettle you end up with though, may you enjoy many cups of perfectly prepared tea!
If you are looking for a new green tea to try, read some green tea reviews for a few ideas.
Or if you are looking for something to look at, think about or read while you enjoy your freshly prepared cup of tea, visit the “Think While you Drink“ section for some beautiful photos, curious facts, and interesting quotes.