Discovering your favourite tea is only half the battle. To enjoy this delightful beverage at its best, you also need the right equipment. Heating water in a microwave is one of the fastest ways to make hot tea, but it’s not necessarily the best.
The radio waves in a microwave oven can actually “superheat” water, taking it beyond the boiling point. This can destroy the delicate flavour of tea.
Also, steeping green tea and white tea may require lower temperatures, something that’s hard to achieve using the microwave. So, to get the most out of your tea, you need a tea kettle to heat the water.
Tea kettles are vessels used to heat water only. The pot that you steep the tea in is called a tea pot, and you generally don’t put tea pots on the stove like you do with kettles.
There are many types of kettles available. How do you know which one to pick? Is it worth it to spend more for an expensive model, or will a cheap kettle meet your needs equally well?
Read on to learn more about how to choose a tea kettle!
• Electric Kettles
The advantage of an electric kettle is that it heats water faster and uses less energy. Also, some electric kettles have built in water filters, to remove hard water deposits from your water.
Electric kettles are great for students living in dorm rooms, where there isn’t a stove available to heat a late-night cup of tea.
If you drink green tea or white tea, some electric kettles have a temperature-control feature that stops heating the water before it hits the boiling point, so you don’t have to worry about getting your water too hot.
They come in a variety of materials. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Anodized aluminium tea pots are almost as energy efficient as copper, but can be expensive. However, they are highly resistant to stains and scratches, and are light enough to take camping with you.
If you need a kettle for the outdoors, this is the one for you. If you are brewing tea at home, they are not generally recommend them as there have been health concerns about the aluminium content of tea leaves in some parts of the world. As a safety precaution, this is the one to avoid for regular boiling.
• Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is one of the most popular tea kettle materials. It is attractive and easy to keep clean, but relatively slow to heat. They are often quite cheap, and can provide a good value for the money.
Watch the handles, though, because they tend to get hot and hard to pick up.
Glass kettles or glass tea pots are attractive and easy to clean. They are essential when you are serving up teas where visual appreciation is important - such as blossoming teas and herbal tisanes made of whole leaves and flowers.
However, you have to be careful not to heat them up too fast, as sudden changes in temperature can cause glass to shatter. In fact, you shouldn’t heat a glass kettle directly on the eye of the stove. Use a piece of metal such as a metal trivet to diffuse the heat instead.
Glass kettles are also breakable, so you have to be very careful when cleaning and transporting them.
Would the type of kettle you use affect the taste of the tea?
The answer is a definite yes, although, for the average consumer, the quality of the water has a much greater effect than the tea kettle itself.
Some people say that cheap, electric kettles made from plastic can make water taste like plastic. For obvious reasons, this is the one to avoid.