About the author: Tea Sommelier and founder of Impala & Peacock, Sarah de Witt, discusses what’s important when it comes to choosing the right temperature controlled kettle.
It's important to control the temperature and time of certain tea leaves. While herbal teas can tolerate boiling water and lengthy brew times, all other teas (white, green, oolong, black, and puerh) taste significantly better when brewed correctly.
The temperature of your water and the time you leave the teas to infuse can produce a remarkably different taste. The same green tea left too long with a water temperature that's too high can taste bitter and astringent whilst a quicker infusion at a lower temperature can produce a delightfully sweet and nutty taste.
So, which temperature controlled kettle is best for you? I've trialled and tested the most popular options on the market and written the pros and cons below. Please note, all opinions on these kettles are impartial - no kick backs were received from any company.
Fellow Corvo Electric KettleSize: 900mL
Price: approx $260 AUD
What I love: This is the new kid on the block. It’s comfortable to pour - the little knob at the top is for your thumb making the pour really controlled. It looks amazing and comes with a built in stop-watch time (brilliant). It has a hold temperature function which is practical. If you really want to geek out you can connect your Fellow Kettle via bluetooth to the Acaia Brewbar Tablet App to track how quickly the water heats - I’m not sure why you would want to do this but the option is there if you have an afternoon to kill.
What can be improved: The temperature gauge does both celcius and farenheit but it’s setup for the USA so if you dial it to celcius, it has 11 °C increments (rather than the more logical 10 °C). While the info booklet says that it can be used directly on an induction cook top, DO NOT. Use the electric base instead. I found some online reviews where buyers tried to do this and it did not work out too well for them…
Hario Buono Temperature Kettle
Price: approx $270 AUD
What I love: The Hario brand is synonymous with good Japanese manufacturing practices and every part of it feels like a good quality product. It’s marketed as a V60 kettle but it will, of course, work for teas. Its pour is precise with the goose neck, the stainless body is resistant to wear and scratches, it’s quick to boil, and the buttons just feel right, you can tell when you’ve pushed them and they pop out nicely.
What can be improved: The Hario Buono doesn’t have the same wow factor that the Fellow Kettle or the Brewista Artisan have. So from a design perspective it’s not as fancy but other than that it’s hard to fault. Perhaps a timer would have made it functionally perfect?
Brewista Artisan Gooseneck Kettle
Price: approx $210 AUD
What I love: It has a “quick boil” option when you’re super keen for your tea and don't want to wait too long. The goose neck gives a great controlled pour, however, the small spout means it takes longer to pour water over tea leaves. The temperature control is via a glass-touch interface and can go to single degrees (e.g. 73 °C say). It also comes in iridescent rainbow colour.
What can be improved: If you fill it right on the 600mL mark and take it to boiling, it sometimes spills water. It makes an electrical hissing sound when it rests on standby which gets a bit annoying if you like the sound of silence. The glass-press functions can sometimes be unresponsive, meaning you have to press a few times at firmer pressures to get it to respond.
Brewista Smart Pour Temperature Gooseneck Kettle
Price: approx $150 AUD
What I love: When I launched my first High Tea venue in Melbourne I purchased 5 of these kettles and used them on repeat. They’re reliable and have a nice large volume. The buttons feel solid with a nice press action, the pour with the gooseneck is perfect, and they’re affordable for the quality you get.
What can be improved: This kettle really isn’t much to look at. And the larger size, while practical, is not as aesthetically pleasing as other players in the market. I had problems with the gooseneck breaking off. I suspect it was due to the thousands of teas we were making rather than a manufacturing issue.
SMEG 50’s Style Temperature Kettle
Price: approx $260 AUD
What I love: The 1950s is a great concept and looks quite aesthetic. It also comes in 7 retro and pastel colours.
What can be improved: This is an expensive kettle for what you get, especially for home use. Also, it is enormous. Normally the volume of water required for a specialty tea infusion is much smaller. This kettle can fill up your teacup and two hot water bottles! It only controls temperature to round numbers, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, 100 °C.
KitchenAid Temperature Kettle
Price: approx $200 AUD
What I love: It’s a great concept and looks quite aesthetic. It comes in 5 retro colours.
What can be improved: Similar to the SMEG, it’s enormous, overpriced for what you get, and only has 6 standard temperature settings.