Friday, March 17, 2017

Talking Tea: Part 4, The End!

When it finally sank in that my husband hated our kettle, which he'd been using many times a day for years to make our tea, I felt bad. I wanted to fix the problem quickly. I like problems that can be fixed with shopping.

After some scouting, I confirmed that there was no stovetop kettle we'd both love. He has to use it but I have to look at it. I'm unusually fussy about kettle functionality and aesthetics. I rejected everything out there. 

A kettle should have a pleasant, clear whistle; most do not. A kettle should be easy to fill and pour, and have a handle that doesn't get hot (or melt) and a lid that stays put. Its interior should stay spic-and-span or be easy to clean. It should not turn alarming colors, as ours did. 

A kettle should also be beautiful, since it sits on the stove, attracting attention. Our Simplex is beautiful — it just, you know, annoys my husband and might be poisoning us. No other kettle can beat it for looks, though. I'm not a fan of colored enamel (Chantal, Le Creuset), or black plastic handles (practically everybody). Copper kettles are lovely until they tarnish, and they sure tarnish. All stainless kettles (All-Clad, Cuisinart, Alessi, Oxo) look grayish and dull compared to our silvery, chrome-plated Simplex. 

Staub makes a cast-iron one that looks like a weird little cookpot. According to its Williams-Sonoma blurb, it heats water slowly. That's a plus? When we want tea, we don't want the water to gently simmer. We want it to boil like hell. We want fast

"Aha!" I thought. "People like us use electric kettles." But, in my mind's eye, I saw my scale-encrusted $5 hot pot from college. I saw the cheap, grungy plastic and metal kettles from True Value that sit on elderly relatives' countertops. None of those would do, but was their a nice electric kettle? I began looking. 

I soon arrived at TheSweetHome.com and their excellent article, The Best Home Electric Kettle. They did everyone's homework and analyzed all the major kettles. However, their criteria weren't the same as mine. We agree that a kettle should be affordable, safe, fast, easy to fill and pour, and should shut off automatically. But they prefer variable-temperature kettles that heat below boiling for brewing green, oolong, and white teas. We only like black and herbal teas, so we just need a kettle that boils. Their top-rated Cuisinart is a big, boring steel pot with too many buttons and options.

Electric kettles get bad reviews because they leak, fail, don't boil, overheat, or have parts that melt, discolor, shatter, or break off. As with all foreign-made electrics, there's always a chance you'll get a dud or doozy. Always read product reviews for the disaster and success stories others have had. Most people are satisfied but there are always a few who end up with melted kitchen cabinets or strange skin rashes.

With an electric kettle, it's most important that your water doesn't come into contact with a reactive material. Steel and tempered glass are good, but rubber, adhesives, and plastic are not. Most kettles have a least a few plastic parts that come in contact with the water, even if it's just while you're pouring it. Those parts ought to be BPA-free, of course, but there's no guarantee that BPA-free plastic is less toxic; BPA is the only chemical that's regulated but there are numerous similar chemicals — too many to regulate.

I decided I could live with a little plastic in an electric kettle. At least we would no longer be poisoning ourselves with copper or blackened tin. 

The Sweet Home recommended one glass kettle and the photos looked cool. Then I remembered seeing one at a friend's house and being surprised at how quickly it worked. So I looked for glass kettles on Amazon. Glass sort of disappears on your counter. Glass lets you watch the water roil and boil, and you'll always know how clean your kettle is, or not. You never have to peer into a cloudy little window to check the water level.

Then I discovered one other feature, which had nothing to do with quality, purity, speed, safety, or anything at all, but it made up my mind. Some glass kettles LIGHT UP BLUE as they heat. I knew we were getting one. 

I knew my husband to be a guy who likes things that light up, especially for no particular reason, and especially bright blue. I mean, LOOK:


I presented him with a few options and he chose a small, simple one with double-walled glass so it won't burn us (or cats jumping on the counter). At $53, it was an affordable experiment. 

So far, he completely loves it. It's fast, clean, and easy to use. While it is far from some gorgeous, high-end design, I find it relatively unobtrusive on the counter, despite its big white plastic handle. And it's fun to turn off the kitchen lights and enjoy the kettle's bright glow as we wait for it to boil. We've only had it about a month, so we may get tired of that, but not yet.


If a more elegant model comes along, we'll get that. As long as it lights up blue. 

I still keep the Simplex on the stove because I like to look at it.

4 comments:

  1. I'm kinda in love with your new kettle.. blue is awesome. Does it whistle? We have one similar to this one at work and it doesn't whistle and it drives us all batty because every single one of us has forgotten we turned it on at one point and have to do it again.
    https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/capresso-reg-h2o-plus-glass-water-kettle/1014181482

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    1. This one shuts off and the blue light goes out. There are kettles that beep and at least one does it loudly and incessantly, which would drive us crazy. (Users provide instructions for taking it apart to remove that circuit!) There's a fancy Breville at BB&B that keeps the water hot for 20 minutes.

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  2. When you want something specific, you've got to search and search! Glad you may have found what you've wanted/needed!

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  3. That's a nice looking kettle. I recently got the Cusinart (or a model much like it) you mentioned and found it did make a difference for green tea. I got the kettle using credit card reward points, which feels like it was no cost (ignoring the monies spent to get the points in the first place). I will have to consider a glass kettle next time I am looking for a kettle. It would definitely be easier to see the water level as you mentioned.

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