The World Of The Tea Kettle

11People who are not regular tea drinkers sometimes get the various bits of tea terminology confused. You would be amazed at how many times I have heard others get all mixed up when it comes to tea kettles and tea pots. They use the terms interchangeably, and it’s enough to make a true tea connoisseur react as if hearing fingernails run down a chalkboard!

Tea pots and tea kettles can sometimes look a lot alike, and maybe that’s why the confusion got started in the first place. But these two items are most definitely used for different functions in the tea lover’s world!

A tea kettle has been designed to use on top of a stove or hot plate to heat water that has been placed in the kettle by the person who desires the hot water. Once the water has come to the proper temperature, it is usually used to make tea, although it could be used for any purpose where very hot water was needed.

A tea pot is a container which is sometimes quite decorative and sometimes very plain. It is used strictly for brewing tea with hot water and either loose tea or tea bags. Generally, you can not use a tea kettle on the stove or over an open fire.

Generally, a kettle is a type of pot that was the brainchild of someone who needed a proper utensil to use over a fire or on a stove for cooking purposes. The word “kettle” was derived from Latin. “Catillus” is Latin for “a deep dish or pan used for cooking”. You can search back in history for kitchen lore and find that every home, be it rich or poor, had a kettle of some sort in the kitchen.

It was a type of cookware that was an absolute necessity. As time went on, some people saw a need for kettles a bit smaller than the monstrous ones that had become a kitchen staple. They wanted something that could be used specifically to boil water in order to prepare tea, both by the cup and by the pot. Thus, the first teakettle was born.

By the time we reached the 20th century, various forms of kitchen and cookware had come and gone, but the tea kettle and the tea pot were two utensils that had not faded into the background of culinary history. Instead, they had become even more useful and indispensable.

What is a tea kettle made of? Those tea kettles which were made to sit on a open flame of course had to be fashioned from a material which could withstand the heat. Different types of metal fill the bill quite nicely. Stainless steel, copper, and chrome plated are all popular. The design of your basic, generic tea kettle has a well fitting lid which easily comes off so that you can put water in the kettle, a spout for ease it pouring the heated water out of the kettle, and a sturdy handle so that the tea kettle can be lifted from the heat and moved from place to place if desired.

An important part of the handle’s design is heat proofing. You want a handle that will not get too hot for you to grasp and hold. Many of the cheaper tea kettles do not offer this option, and it is sorely missed by those who have become used to it, most especially when they are nursing a burned hand as a result of expecting a heat proof handle on a tea kettle and discovering the kettle in question does not have one!

Some tea kettles are equipped with whistles, which let out a piercing sound whenever the water has begun to boil. People can be really funny about these whistling tea kettles! They either love them dearly or hate them severely, with no in-between emotions. The whistle can come in handy when you aren’t going to be able to stay in the same room with the tea kettle – at least you will know when the water is ready for tea making when you hear the whistle! Tea kettle purists say there is no need for such a whistle, and that it distracts the mind from the true purpose of the kettle, which is to bring the water to a quick boil.

Believe it or not, you can actually find replacement whistles for tea kettles! And, you can also purchase a tea kettle whistle that you merely place onto the spout of a tea kettle that started out with no whistle at all. The most popular type of tea kettle whistle is made in the shape of a bird in flight, and is bright red in color. The notes of this whistle are clear and bright, quite a lot like a bird song.

You can also find tea pots that can also be used as tea kettles because of the material they are crafted from. There are some lovely ones made from cast iron that will do double duty as a tea kettle. You also might want to consider an electric tea kettle like most British tea lovers use. Normally, these will bring water to a boil in half the time of a regular tea kettle, and the prices for the electric models are quite reasonable.

Jon Stout is Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company. For more information about tea, tea kettles [] and green tea go to the Golden Moon Tea website.

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