Essential equipment: electric kettle

If you’re any kind of tea drinker (or hot drink maker, tbh), I consider an electric tea kettle an essential item. An item that makes it so easy and convenient you’ll be glad you got one. You’ll also find other useful uses to use it for: like oatmeal, instant ramen, warming water for bread yeast, etc.

There are a few features that you need for tea though while the rest can be mitigated through personal use and other equipment.

When looking at electric kettles, the default seems to be; basically, a water boiler. You turn it on and it heats up the water until it boils. That’s just fine if you only do black teas or coffee or want to make scalding chocolate instead of hot chocolate.

The most important feature of a tea kettle: variable temperature. As stated above, boiling water is fine for basic things but if you want to experience different types of tea (ie green tea has many health benefits and is delicious in a different way than black tea), you’re going to want to be able to heat water up to a specific temperature. My theory is that green tea hasn’t really caught on here because people have the water too hot and it makes a bitter green tea.

All the following features are something I would consider, based on your use case, but not required.

Tea strainer. This one doesn’t really matter if you usually make a mug or have a teapot. Basically, if you have a strainer (tea bags included) somewhere else then you don’t need it in your kettle. We have found that it does come in handy when making a big batch of iced tea. We usually make a few batches in the kettle while pouring it into a gallon container so we can drink on it all week.
If you are going to get a strainer with your kettle, then I recommend getting one that almost reaches the bottom of the kettle. It’s more versatile since you can tailor it to how much tea you want; you won’t need to make a whole kettle. Also, get a strainer with an open top. Our Chefman kettle from Costco had a plastic handle above the strainer so you had to take that off before putting the tea in. It was a mild inconvenience that does not have to be there.

Size, obviously. I say just go for the bigger size (usually just under 2 liters) because you can always make a less but it does come in handy for those situations like guests or iced tea.

Wattage. You want at least 1000 watts but the higher the better. 1500 watts will heat your water up faster which is good for those who lack patience or have a life outside of watching water boil.  

Temperature selection. Some have buttons for each preset temp; some have arrows or a knob that scrolls through the options. This is another preference thing based though I will say the individual buttons are a little more convenient.
One feature you should look for though is setting a custom temperature. 

Material/replacement parts. I’m putting these together because I think one depends on the other. A lot of the kettles are mostly glass which usually break if dropped. I haven’t seen a kettle that sells replacement carafes(?) and they all seem to have different contact on their bases so one carafe might not fit another; there will likely be some e-waste if the carafe breaks as you won’t be able to 

Stay warm function. Does the kettle keep the same temp after putting it back on the base? Or does it just keep it warm at like 160F (or whatever they set it at). This depends on how often you leave it to run and how forgetful you are.

LEDs. I was surprised how useful it was to have a ring of LEDs built into the carafe. At a quick glance you can tell if it’s still heating up (red ring) or if it’s ready (green ring). Then you don’t need the annoying beeps to tell you it’s ready.

 * We actually had the kettle in the picture but this is not an endorsement. It was just a decent tea kettle until I dropped it and it broke. Although I still kept the lid/filter which has come in handy a time or two.