TCK Explained

You want one of those kettles – but which one is right for you?

There are a few criteria to be aware of before buying:

1. Price

You can spend $20 or $200 depending on your budget and on the features you want.

Not every expansive kettle offers more functionality. Brand, design, lifestyle ambitions and other factors all contribute to the final price.

2. Range of programmable temperaturesTemperature controlled kettle

Most TCK’s have a range of pre-set temperatures for you to select, for example, 140°F/60°C, 170°F/77°C or 212°F/100°C.
Other kettles (usually more expansive ones) allow you to set the desired temperatures at 1° or 10°F increments.
For brewing tea, the TCK should go at least as low as 160°F/71°C which is sufficient for brewing most teas (except certain Japanese green teas like Gyokuru or Matcha which need 60°C/140°F).

The control panel can be integrated into the handle (see the image, examples are Ovente, Epica, Brevo, Cuisinart), into the base (for example W&E Ceramic, Oxo) or can be part of the kettle (T-fal, Smeg).

3. Water capacity

Kettles nowadays have a capacity of 1.2 – 1.7 liter. This is more than enough for even the big family teapot.
It does not make sense to produce bigger kettles because some people would have to use both arms to lift them when fully filled. You want to heat water not train for an arm-wrestling competition (unless you do).

Most kettles require a minimum amount of water to start boiling (0.5l). If you heat too little water the temperature reading might be all over the place.

Some manufacturer include a cup or mug measure so you do not have to use more water than you need.
As general advice, you should only boil as much water as you need to preserve energy.

4. Keep Warm function

Convenient if you cannot use the water immediately after the desired temperature is reached.
It can be an energy-hungry feature to keep one liter of water at boiling temperature for 30 minutes.
The best practice is to heat the water when you need it.

5. Boil dry protection / Automatic shut off

Safety feature to prevent the kettle from boiling away all water and overheating as a result.

6. Additional Features

All kettles we review or recommend have the following features:

  • A concealed heating element so the water doesn’t come in contact with the heater. This also guarantees a better heat distribution and better temperature reading.
  • Cordless operation meaning the kettle can be removed from the base unit without an attached cable.

No BP A7. The use of plastic

This became an issue when research suggested that certain plastic components pose a threat to human health. Especially BPA (Bisphenol A – for more info click here), used in many kettles, became the focus of scientific scrutiny. The high heat generated in kettles increases the risk of harmful plastics leaching into the water.

BPA is banned in some countries (Canada, Japan), in other countries just for baby products. Other health authorities see no risk at all so it is up to everybody to decide for themselves.
It is fair to say that it is better to be on the safe side and go for a plastic-free kettle (inside of the kettle to be precise, the outside casing can still be plastic).

8. Warranty

Depends on your region or country.
Make sure you have all the relevant information and documentation before you purchase. The minimum warranty, regardless of where you live should be one year.
In some cases, the manufacturer’s warranty might exceed the retailer’s warranty (meaning you might have to send the kettle directly to the producer, for example, Cuisinart kettle).

Never buy repackaged goods. For example, the kettle is still in the original packaging but the tape around it has the retailers name on it. This is most likely a returned and repackaged device – stay away.

9. Look and Feel

Pretty much up to you.
Should the color of the kettle match the toaster or your general kitchen color scheme (if you have one)?
Most kettles have a plastic or a metal casing. Some come with a window to check the water level others with some LED lights. Again, it is up to your preferences or the lack thereof.
Pimp my kettle…

kettle-toaster match

Conclusion

So, do we need a temperature controlled kettle?

When it comes to making the best possible tea the answer is a definite yes.

Even if you don’t drink tea such a kettle can help you saving energy and money – so it is a yes again.

tea and kettle