Tea Kettles: An Overview
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Tea Kettles have been around since around 1500 when they originated in China. They actually promoted the popularity of tea in Europe and continue to be fascinating and useful appliances today. They are commonplace in kitchens across the world world.
While the tea kettle, or teapot, is used primarily today to boil water, it can also be used to seep tea leaves or make another hot drink. Since hot water can be used in many ways, tea kettles are very useful to own because of the speed at which they heat several cups of that water.
There are many types of tea kettles, ranging from stove-stop stainless steel kettles to pots of traditional red stoneware. If you’re interested in the whistling variety, you can check out Cookware Junkies where they have a great article specifically for the whistling types. Certain tea kettles are less expensive than others and serve only the purpose of heating water. Others are designed to help promote a beautiful ambiance or provide a conversation starter as well as perform their function – to heat water.
The purpose that you have for your tea kettle will affect how much you will need to spend on it; some are very inexpensive, while others can be quite costly.
When considering the tea kettle that you wish to buy, check to see how its instructions suggest it be cleaned. Most teapots are easily cleaned and maintained; however, some more decorative pieces may take a bit more work.
Uses of a Tea Kettle
The tea kettle, as its name suggests, was originally created for seeping tea leaves. Today, the teapot can be used in many ways including but not limited to making tea. The water can be either heated and then poured into individual tea cups in which tea (or tea leaves) is added, or the tea can seep in the tea kettle itself.
As a general rule for seeping tea, green teas should be left for one to two minutes, two to three minutes should be given to oolong teas, and black teas should be seep from three to five minutes. Of course, this can be adjusted according to preference. While some people like their tea to be quite weak, others like it to march out of the tea kettle. Letting it soak in the water longer will make your drink stronger.
Many other drinks, including coffee and hot chocolate can be served and even made in your teapot. For drinks in which you do not want any grounds, either use bagged grounds or a filter.
The most common way to make hot drinks, however, is to use the kettle to heat the water and then make the drinks in individual teacups or mugs.
For some people, the question is “Why a Tea Kettle?” Why should you fill a tea kettle, set it on the burner, wait for it to boil, and then use the water rather than just filling a cup with water and popping it in the microwave?
While it is almost entirely preference, here are several reasons to use a tea kettle rather than the “simpler” microwave method.
- A tea kettle holds much more water than one mug does; therefore if you are heating water for more than one person or are going to have more than one cup of coffee or tea, a tea kettle saves time and effort.
- The water in a tea kettle also stays hot for a long period of time. If you heat up water in the microwave and then leave it for a few minutes, it will cool. However, the water in the kettle can stay hot for hours, which is perfect for those who are busy or those who are planning on drinking more than one cup.
- After heating water in a mug by microwave, the water is not the only thing that’s hot. The mug is often untouchable! Tea kettles, however, are made with handles that don’t retain heat and often even remain much cooler on the outside of the pot than the water is on the inside. Thus, your chance of burning yourself on the hot mug is greatly reduced.
- For some people, the reason to use a tea kettle over another method is purely for aesthetic value. The soft boiling sound and then the “whistle,” as well as the pouring method into each teacup, is a simple and soothing process. It has something to do with tradition; maybe it’s having seen your mother do it that way. Whatever the case may be, for some, a tea kettle is just the “right” way to go.
Types of Tea Kettles
There are tea kettles for every occasion! Ranging from earthenware and traditional brown or red stoneware to ornate English china or modern glass, the tea kettle is its own unique form of art. Following are some of the choices available in teapots.
First of all, tea kettles are available in the traditional “sit-it-on-the-burner” style. Or, if you don’t have a stove, are using your tea kettle away from the kitchen, or want to free up your burners for other things, you can purchase an electric tea kettle. These simply plug in to an electric socket and heat your water, much like a hot pot.
After deciding between original and electric, you face the decision of the material the tea kettle is made of. Following is a list of some of the kinds of teapots you can obtain and their primary benefits.
- China. This is one of the best for holding in heat and is known for its traditional loveliness.
- Porcelain. This is also known for holding in heat better than most other tea kettles and is available many places.
- Ceramic. These tea kettles are usually fun and set a lovely ambiance.
- Stoneware. If you’re looking for something unique, these are great conversational pieces. They also inexpensive, which makes it plausible and affordable to have a teapot for every occasion.
- Stainless Steel. These are easy to keep clean and sturdy. They also appeal to those with contemporary kitchens.
Cleaning a Tea Kettle
While a tea kettle is a beautiful and artistic piece of décor in a home, it is also a kitchen tool. Therefore, it is important to keep your teapot clean – to protect your teapot and to protect the flavor of your teas. While each individual tea kettle may vary in its instructions for cleaning, most pots follow a procedure similar to the following instructions for regular clean-up.
- Rinse and wash thoroughly after each use.
- Check the bottom of the tea kettle to find out whether or not it is dishwasher safe.
- To remove stains from the inside of the teapot, put two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda inside it, and then add boiling water. Let it sit for about half an hour, and rinse thoroughly.
Perhaps you want a tea kettle for purely functional reasons – to heat water and little more. You will probably want to find a teapot that is not too expensive, will be easy to maintain and clean, and will last a long time. However, you may desire a teapot for more than its use; it may also be an ornament in your home, a piece of beauty or history.
If this is the case, you will probably want a different tea kettle than the first scenario would have called for. The first step in finding the perfect tea kettle for you is to decide what desires you have for your tea kettle, what purposes you want it to fulfill.
Once you know what you want, the next step is finding it. Tea kettles are readily available in many places, including antique shops, online, kitchen stores, and pretty much any other department or discount store. Prices can range anywhere from low-end ceramic tea kettles around $10 to exquisite pieces over $100. Once again, what you are willing to spend will vary based on your desires for the piece.
When you are getting ready to make your purchase, check for these things; you may decide that they are not all important to you, but they are good to consider:
- Is it dishwasher safe? If you tea kettle is going to serve very practical purposes, you might want the easy option of being able to pop it in the dishwasher.
- How is the product durability rated? Is this pot going to last a long time?
- Are the teas you enjoy compatible with the pot? This may seem like a given, but it’s not. Check with a store employee or kettle expert to make sure that you’re going to be able to use your tea kettle in the way you are expecting.
Finally, enjoy! Brew some tea, sit back, breathe deeply, and relax with your 500 year old tradition.