Friday, December 10, 2010

A Sexy Tea Kettle

Some of the nice people who humor me by reading this blog have tried to help me in my search for a tea kettle that won't rust, break, leak, or burn me. What wonderful taste and common sense my readers have! While electric kettles have gotten strong plugs from a couple of people, we just don't have counter space for one. (I can't even replace our scary toaster because the new models are all too big,)

I received a few stovetop kettle recommendations from readers, too, and they are all good looking and above average (the tea kettles, that is. I'm sure the readers are, too....)

Someone likes this stainless model by Chantal:
It seems to be well made, and about half of 16 Amazon reviewers give it 5 stars. But many others complain that they burn their hands on the handle. And those backwards handles always look, well, backwards, to me. So it's right out.

Why do I pay so much attention to Amazon reviews? I tend to trust literate consumers who care enough to take time to endorse or complain about a product. As a former retail copywriter, I know better than to trust information from manufacturers. I'm more like to find accuracy and truthfulness from an angry or pleased consumer. I trust people who give "average" ratings the most. They aren't elated or passionate about the product; they're level-headed. 

But back to the kettle hunt.

One of my readers recommended this Oxo Good Grips model, which comes in lots of interesting finishes, including cream: 

I like Good Grips products in general, although the ergonomic handles on their peelers and zesters, etc.,  are often too big to fit in my utensil drawer (our next apartment will have a bigger kitchen for sure). This one has an internal whistle and the spout opens automatically when you tip it to pour — very good design. I was especially drawn to the new Anniversary edition of this kettle, in brushed stainless steel with natural cork handles. The cork model has no reviews yet, but I suspect people will have issues with flaking or some other kind of failure; cork is a tricky substance, and there's probably a reason it isn't often used in cookware. 

The regular Good Grips kettle has gotten about 160 reviews, with about a third giving it 5 stars and another third giving in only 1 or 2. People complain about melting plastic, flaking and rust, loose screws that won't stay tight, and handles that fall off. But this particular review gave me the willies:

We just had a number of things in our home tested for lead another other heavy metals and this teakettle tested positive for very high levels of cadmium (a known carcinogen). Yuck. Not cool. Our teakettle is orange and it's possible that there is less (or no) cadmium in the unglazed or other (not red or orange) colors. But who knows. You might want to stay away from this one --or ask OXO for confirmation that other colors are free of heavy metals: [...]

Finally, there's this handsome Copco Fusion, which I'd never seen before:

This one is stainless on the top and enameled steel on the bottom. I love the way it looks, but it also gets very mixed reviews from 18 people, including, broken handles, rust, and awkward pouring. Almost half of the reviewers give it only 1 or 2 stars. It's lovely, but it would make me nervous.

So what kettles get great reviews? This one, the Simplex Heritage, has gotten 10 reviews and all are at least 4 stars:
This is clearly a satisfactory kettle. I only wish I liked how it looked. I tend to like old-fashioned things, but this reminds me of my cranky Irish grandmother, who was a terrible cook, serving her grandchildren tasteless meals of watery hamburger "hash" and weak, boiling cups of Salada without sugar or milk. Until I was in my late teens, I thought tea was something bitter that burned your mouth, and didn't see the point. I don't know why this kettle reminds me of all this, but it does. She wouldn't have owned this kettle; she'd have gotten the cheap Old Dutch knockoff that tends to fall apart in people's hands. 

Maybe I can get over these memories and get this "cranky" kettle, but it might require some therapy. Maybe I should watch a few Upstairs, Downstairs episodes. I was addicted as a kid. Mrs. Bridges's kettle would have looked like this one.

[Oh, my god! In hunting for an explanatory link, I discovered a new BBC series based on Upstairs Downstairs!  It's set in 1937, with Jean Marsh as Rose and hopefully other original cast members. They're going to be shown at Christmas in England, lucky bums. We Americans have to wait until April.]

Wow, searching for a tea kettle has surprising rewards. But back to the tea crisis.

A handful of people strongly recommend this Hario Buono kettle, but it's primarily for making drip-filter coffee (which my husband does, often). I think it looks like a watering can gone bad and it doesn't hold even a quart of water. It's the ugliest kettle out there; I hope you agree:
I love this spherical kettle by WMF, which I've seen in shops in Paris, mainly because I like round, shiny things but also because the handle is on the side and I would never have to worry about the lid flipping off and burning me as I pour (this happens with my current kettle):
There are only two reviews but they are raves: "the whistle is great and the handle stays cool to the touch after the water boils." And I think it's handsome; kettles never look all that "sexy," but this one has a lot of appeal, visual and tactile. I want to stroke those cool, shiny curves. And it would be the highlight of the kitchen, living on our black glass cooktop. The problem is that it only holds 1-1/2 quarts, and that's not enough to fill my 2-quart hot water bottle. 

Finally, for shiny, round looks, I also like this Cuisinox Elite, but it must be brand new since it has no reviews yet:

But people complain that other, less-expensive Cuisinox 18/10 stainless kettles rust and have hot handles. So I remain on the fence about this one. 

And about kettles in general. Keep those comments and recommendations coming, please!


  1. Bad news about the Copco Fushion. Last night mine met an untimely death. My husband neglected to tell me that one of the burners on our stove was running unusually hot... you probably know where this is going.

    Basically the protective plate on the bottom of the tea kettle actually melted off on to the glass top stove, killing both the tea kettle and I thought, my stove. I don't think it was the kettle's fault - I had it on level 5 but the burner was burning too hot.

    So now I'm in the market too. I think it's pretty impossible to find a kettle that someone hasn't had a bad experience with.... really just the luck of the draw. /sigh.

  2. P.S. I just called OXO because that review scared me too (just bought the cream one for my mom!). The rep assured me that the kettles are made only of stainless steel and enamel that is cadmium free and that this is the first they have any record of this problem. So who knows.



    1. ... But what did you expect to hear?:-) our kettles are full of cadmium that leaks anytime you boil the water... You have no way of checking his statements!i

  3. Thank you for helping me find a Simplex Copper Beehive! I had been completely unable to find one until you posted the link to the one on-line store that still had one.

  4. Update: the company I bought the Simplex Copper tea kettle from contacted me to say that they were out of stock. Nobody has it.

  5. Start watching on eBay, and maybe one will come to light. A few Sur la Table stores may have the Heritage copper and chrome kettles if you're interested. Call your local store and they can do a naional search. Good luck!

  6. Hey I appreciate this post. This is a great help to anyone that was finding a perfect stainless steel tea kettle like me. It helps a lot.

  7. Start therapy. The kettle your Irish grandmother would have been too cheap to buy is a workhorse and holds an entire Brita pitcher of water.

    I was given my kettle second hand by an old roommate when he moved out and bought a new one (we both worked at Coffee Connection and could get decent discounts). It is now 16 years later and it shows no sign of giving up. It has survived two cross-country moves, hard water, gas stoves, electric stoves, challenged boyfriends, etc.

    former Bostonian

  8. Thank you for helping me find a Simplex Copper Beehive!

  9. Similar problem. My wife let the tea-kettle run bone dry and the copper bottom melted fast to the glass cooktop surface. Replacing the tea kettle isn't such a big deal, but finding something that will clean the copper that is fused onto the cooktop is a different story. If anyone can recommnd something, it would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Thank you so much for the tea kettle review! I found your post as a result for searching for a whistling tea kettle with the handle on the side. I found the WMF one on Amazon five minutes later and bought it immediately lest it disappear from the face of the earth. Do you have any thoughts on why, out of so very many different designs for tea kettles, there seems to be approximately ONE that both has a handle on the side and a whistle? Cheers!

  11. Sexy and adorable. This is how kettle world has revolutionized. From starting to today.

  12. I think you will find there were a few fakes entered the market and the company has reverted to its former name of Richmond Kettle company. And they told me they are re-introducing the Beehive


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