Samantha Joyce over at Seattle Coffee Gear was kind enough to do a guest blog for me, while I’m in fiction-writing land. And now, I turn the kettle/podium over to her…
The humble tea kettle is the common denominator in pursuit of a delicious cup of tea and mug of coffee. But because it is so very ordinary, its importance is often overlooked and taken for granted. What is the provenance of your kitchen kettle? When we start home keeping as young adults any upgrade from boiling water in a saucepan or a microwave is appreciated. After receipt of a ‘real’ tea kettle many people become complacent. They adapt their tea routine to suit the tea kettle, not the tea. A new tea kettle will make a difference in how you prepare tea. Technology and science have converged in your kitchen to combine fuzzy logic and fluid dynamics. Translation: there are many great tea kettles to choose from with features you may have not considered.
Temperature is a key consideration for producing a tasty cup of tea. There are several ways to take the guesswork out of temperature. Many electric kettles come with temperature setting capability. Some have a selector knob with common pre-sets for boiling, Oolong, white tea, green tea and warming water. Others have digital technology that allows you to set an exact water temperature and hold it there. Either is a major step up in convenience and accuracy from how I used to do it with a glass measuring cup and a drink thermometer. Another handy feature of most electric kettles is that the bottom stays cool. The water inside the kettle is hot and yet there’s no need to use a trivet.
Tea kettles come in all shapes and sizes. Match your tea habit to your tea kettle capacity for frustration-free preparation. For the longest time I had an 8-cup tea kettle that was heavy and awkward to pour. I make tea (and coffee) for one to two people. When searching for the right size for my routine, I found everything from 2-cup travel kettles up to 5-gallon commercial dispensers. My wrists appreciate that my new 4-cup tea kettle weighs 1.4 pounds instead of 3.2 pounds. It is perfectly adequate without being overkill.
Along with weight, balance and spout shape combine for the ability to pour accurately (or not). One of the most surprising revelations I had during “Kettle Search 2013” was how tea kettles handled differently when filled to capacity. A model I tried from Japan had an odd shape and cantilevered handle configuration. Once it was filled though it was balanced for a perfect pour. Lesson learned, don’t select a kettle based on classic looks. A gooseneck spout also has an advantage over a classic spout in a similar regard because the flow of water is restricted for better aim. This is a great feature for filling a single cup, a tight teapot aperture or (let’s be honest) watering hard to reach houseplants. Since I am accident prone, I also like the fact that a gooseneck spout directs boiling water where I point it without a splash on the counter or my fingers.
Like many tea and coffee drinkers, I didn’t give a second thought to my kettle at home. Now that I have found one well suited for my particular style of beverage preparation I find myself talking about kettles all of the time…to anyone who will listen. I can’t believe I waited this long. Do you need a digital variable temperature gooseneck kettle in your kitchen? Maybe, maybe not. But, the right kettle will certainly open up new tea avenues to explore. For taste, for ease of use and for your own safety…consider a kettle upgrade.
Samantha Joyce once spent a chilly Fall inside a wall tent in Homer, Alaska as a teenager. After that, the pursuit of blistering hot beverages became an obsession–and a survival skill. Now, she thrives in the comparably moderate weather of Seattle. She finds writing to be the perfect career because it allows for unlimited tea and coffee consumption. Often she can be found with a full teapot or coffee carafe on her desk. She must continue to remind herself however, not to make tea and coffee hotter than the center of the sun. Out of respect for proper brewing techniques, she uses a digital variable temperature gooseneck kettle to set the right temperature for the daintiest green tea to the most stalwart Pu-erh. Iced tea is still out of the question.