The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Do I like to drink tea?” Don’t make this decision based on ordering tea at a restaurant. Everywhere I’ve ordered tea, (except a couple of posh places, and tea shops) I gotten a Lipton’s teabag, or something of a lesser quality. Unfortunately it seemed that I was one of few to order tea, because the tea tended to be stale.
You might think it would save you some time and money to go to a convenience store and pick a cup of tea, but I don’t recommend it. They usually have a nice selection of quality teabags, but you’re going to brew it in a Styrofoam, or cardboard cup, with water that was heated by running it through the coffee maker. NOT good.
A good way to decide if you really like tea is to have some like-minded, or open-minded friends get together a try different teas together. If loose tea is being used, don’t forget to have a tea-ball, or strainer. Most grocery stores have a collection of different types of tea to choose from. The “Traditional British” teas, such as Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey, in small boxes, just the right size for trying out.
Now that you’ve found some tea, or teas that you like, the question now facing you is, do I need to buy a kettle. Some people are happy to use a small pot to boil the water in. If you like tea enough to drink it a couple times a day, that pot will sit on the stove with not quite enough water in it to make tea, but it will be collecting dust, and whatever else might fall in! Some people like to heat the water in the microwave. It’s quick, and convenient, but it’s hard to get the right temperature. It either doesn’t quite boil, or it boils too much. Then it cools down too quickly, and just like most food cooked in the microwave, it just doesn’t taste as good as when it’s cooked in, or on the stove. Also it doesn’t have a whistle, so if you go to do other things while you’re waiting for the water to boil, there’s a good chance you might forget about it. The water will all boil away, and scorch the pot.
There is a dizzying array of teakettles to choose from. They range in price, anywhere from $5 to $150 and up. Kettles designed to be used on the stove-top are usually they are made from stainless steel. Color and patterns are added with a layer of ceramic over the outside.. Approximately $20 is a reasonable price to pay for a decent basic stainless steel kettle. They will look at home in most kitchen decor. You will pay a little more if you’d like to pick a kettle to look more at home in your Victorian country, or your ultra modern kitchen. For $50 and above you’re looking at an “art” investment. Regardless of how much you’re willing to pay, always look for one that has a layer of copper on the bottom, as it helps to heat the kettle up evenly, and a little more efficiently. I did see one glass kettle by Medeko for about $15. Seeing the water boil is cool, but I personally, would be a little nervous about it breaking.
Stove top kettles tend to be popular, because in some houses, and quite a few apartments there just isn’t enough counter space. If you do have a corner to spare, then you might consider getting a electric kettle. Gone are the days when you had to deal with a cord that usually wasn’t long enough to pour the water, without unplugging it, or it getting tangled, and caught on things. Now the kettle sits on a base that stays put, and the kettle can be picked up off the base to pour freely.
The most interesting one I found is from a company called UtiliTea. Most kettles heat the water until it boils, which is great for regular tea, but if you’re working on becoming, or already consider yourself to be a bit of a tea aficionado, you might want to invest in this companiy’s “variable temperature” electric kettle, because it gives you a choice of temperatures based on whether you’re going to be making black tea, or green, or white tea which tend to taste better when the water used is below boiling. Other advantages of this particular kettle is that it heats up quickly, and holds it’s temperature, so if you got a little distracted, you don’t have to heat it up again.
Whichever tea you decide on, whichever kettle you decide you invest in, enjoy.