Americans: You’re Doing Tea Wrong

Hah! The other day I read an article about how residents of the UK were flabbergasted that most American households don’t have an electric kettle. The responses are hilarious! (Also: lots of cussing.)

“Is it true that Americans rarely own kettles and boil their tea water in the microwave? Wtf is wrong with that country?! #heathens #tea

“In all the movies and tv shows I’ve watched, I’ve never seen an American use an electric kettle. These things keep me up at night.”

Apparently, there’s a whole reddit feed dedicated to the conversation. The responses make me laugh so hard! And I totally get it. All over Europe, in every house we’ve visited or hotel room we’ve stayed in, there was an electric kettle. No question. It’s an essential kitchen tool across the pond and is used multiple times a day in pretty much every household. (And in Australia too!)

As for me, I had never used an electric kettle until we moved to France, but I came to rely on it pretty instantly. I’m sure that was partly because the house we rented didn’t have a microwave. When we moved back to the U.S., we bought one right away and we use it basically every day for one task or another. I would miss it like crazy if it was gone.

How about you? Have you ever used one? If you owned one, do you think it would get much use at your house? If you’ve ever rented out your place on Airbnb or another vacation rental site, did you add an electric tea kettle for guests visiting from out of the country? Also, what’s a tool or appliance in your kitchen that you couldn’t live without? I’d love to hear!

And hey, if you’re thinking about buying an electric kettle, I’ve collected 11 of the best-looking options below. Five are priced around $40 or less, and one is only $16.

P.S. — Do you own a Kitchen aid stand mixer?

1) Stariver Electric Tea Kettle Stainless Steel (and only $16!).
2) Kitchen Aid in 7 colors!
3) Secura Stainless Steel — so sleek, in 5 colors, priced at $40.
4) Bella in 5 different designs. This is the model I use. The price changes sometimes but is always around $40.
5) Balmuda Electric Kettle The Pot.
6) Breville Ikon Cordless Stainless Steel.
7) SMEG! In 7 darling colors.
8) Capresso German Schott Glass Water Kettle.
9) Bonavita Gooseneck Variable Temperature.
10) Krups SAVOY Manual Electric Kettle with Auto Shut Off, priced around $40.
11) Elechomes Smart Keep Warm Electric Kettle — another relatively affordable option at $34.

131 thoughts on “Americans: You’re Doing Tea Wrong”

  1. I have a kettle and use it when I need to make larger amounts of tea. If it’s just one cup I don’t bother. We also have a kettle at work that is used throughout the day. Some even use a small tea pot to steep their tea rather than directly in the cup.
    Your kettle options above. I would think that 5 and 9 would be better for pour over coffee rather than tea since the water pours out slower than a regular kettle.

  2. I do, but…., I’m married to an Englishman :-) I’ve always hated microwaved water for tea, though. It’s just nasty. I always relied on a traditional kettle on the stove, prior to learning the usefulness of electric kettles. I have to say I’ve yet to find one I love. Maybe we just use it so much it keeps breaking!

    1. Same. I use the stove top one. Why would I want to deal with a corded one? That seems like a pain. Do Brit have smaller stoves and don’t want to give up the burner space?

      1. Turning on the stove also uses more energy, which has historically been more expensive in Britain.

        I’m American, but I lived in the UK for two years and started using an electric kettle then. Have never looked back.

        1. Because it is so much quicker! We boil our kettles so many times a day, we don’t have time to faff around with a stove! Also, people have kettles everywhere – at home and at work – you don’t tend to have a stove in the office!

          1. As Sophie says, it’s quicker! Also though, British kitchens tend to be smaller than American ones, particularly in London where the cost of living is so high that apartments tend to be NYC-sized – a hob-top kettle would take up valuable hob space. We actually aren’t huge tea drinkers, maybe because my husband is American – but we use ours all the time to boil water for steaming or boiling food, and just pour the boiling water into a pan – it’s so much quicker than standing around waiting for water to boil on the hob.

            Having said all that, when I lived in LA I had a hobtop kettle and when my parents came to visit they got so enraged! They only stayed a fortnight and my mum kept threatening to go buy an electric one because she couldn’t handle waiting five minutes for a cup of tea…

          2. Ah, I didn’t think about having one at work. That does make sense. (All I need at work is a mini-fridge to store my Coke–I am so unbelievably American.) I also didn’t realize they boiled water faster than a stove-top one. Interesting.

      2. I live in Canada and most people have electric kettles here. They are wonderful and you don’t have to deal with a cord as the kettle removes from the base so you just lift it off to pour your water.

      3. I have used an electric kettle for years. I drink hot tea all day long summer or winter. It’s so much easier and I never microwave😜

      4. No. Typically, our stoves are the same as yours. It’s just that electric kettles are cheaper and faster. It is bonkers to use a stove to heat small quantities of water .

    2. Electronic are significantly faster, and you dont have to rush to turn them off (or risk a house fire.) They just turn themselves off when they are done.

      The speed is nice for morning tea/coffee, and I also use it often for pasta if I’m in a real hurry (boil in electric kettle then pour in pot) — it really does shave off a good 5 minutes.

    3. Because it shuts itself off, which is by far the best part. I always tell my husband that if he dies first, he can rest assured knowing I’ll die soon after because I left the stove on. I love my electric kettle! I use it for tea and oatmeal, but also to heat up water if I have to boil something. A kettle full of water comes to boil so much more quickly than a pot on the stove for pasta or potatoes and it doesn’t make the kitchen all hot and miserable. I also use it to fill the soup thermos with hot water before emptying and adding hot soup–the best way to have warm soup at lunchtime. On a busy morning, it’s easy to click the kettle on and get back to it when I’m ready–who needs one more thing hollaring for your attention in the morning!

    4. Agree–it’s faster, less mess, less danger/noise, and also, I need all the valuable real estate on my stovetop for other things!

      1. See, I consider my counter much more valuable real estate than my stove. It’s no big deal for me to use one (of 4) burners to keep my kettle as there is nothing else I regularly keep on the stove. And if I need all 4 burners, I just move it to the counter momentarily.

  3. I used an electric kettle in college in the dorms. Now I use a kettle on my gas stove. I like electric kettles: however, I also like to be practical and own less. If the power goes out I can still make tea and any kind of warm yummy goodness for my family on my stove.

  4. I’m from Canada and every household I’ve been in has an electric kettle! It’s amazing, I use it every day for sure (hardly ever for tea though, mostly for pour over coffee and to make bottles for my babe).

    1. I was just going to say that this is not just across pond but across your border to the north. I agree that every house here has an electric kettle! We make tea 3 times a day with it. I also have a stove top one but its whistles SOO loud so we keep it for camping trips. Microwaving tea water just sounds absolutely disgusting!

  5. I’ve never lived in a house without an electric kettle. I even had one in my dorm room in college. To be fair, my family is Russian, and we drink tea all the time.

    1. Yes – I’ve seen three electric kettle burn and die on the stove and the clean up is no fun. Stovetop it is for us and it is fast with induction. Tea is for my guests anyway – coffee drinker here!

  6. Electric! One at home (Cuisinart Perfectemp – LOVE!) and more basic one at the office. It’s really the only thing for tea and for pour-over or press coffee! I have to admit that I never used one until I did a study abroad in France — now I give them out as gifts. Might be the appliance that gets the most use in our kitchen!

  7. I’m Chinese and have actually always had a counter top electric water boiler+warmer. It keeps water at a consistent 208F, 195F, or 175F (I keep it at 195F) all day every day. Mine has a 4L capacity and I refill it every day or every other day. Many traditional Asian households have one. It might seem excessive to some but it’s super handy for all the tea I drink & hot cocoa in the winter. Makes quick work of french pressing a pot of coffee too :) Plus, if I want to quickly get a pot of water boiling or rehydrate dried food stuffs for dinner, I use water from the boiler. Very handy for instant noodles too!

    1. Ling, that sounds like a great kitchen appliance. I will look for one.

      I’m an american, who lived in England, so I am squarely in the electric kettle camp. It’s far easier and quicker than stovetop kettle. Mine doesn’t make any annoying whistling sounds, it just turns off as soon as it boils. I’ve know made converts of my mother and mother in law.

      Also, it makes the perfect eggs, but husband hates it when I do so. Just pop the eggs in, let the kettle come to a boil and wait 3 min after the boil for perfect soft boiled eggs.

      1. Hi. You really shouldn’t boil eggs (or any food) in a kettle! In terms of food hygiene, it is virtually impossible to properly clean a kettle on the inside. Eggs have tiny remnants of chicken faeces on the outside of their shells which means the water they’re cooked in and the inside of the kettle will also have tiny bits of faeces on them! Really, only boil water in a kettle. I usually boil water in a kettle and then pour the hot water into a saucepan to cook eggs (or anything else).

    2. I have this too. Mine also has a energy conservation function where it will “sleep” for 6-10hrs if I don’t need hot water through the night. Having hot water at the ready was awesome when I was warming breast milk for my babies too.

  8. Love my electric kettle. Mine has a base it fits on, so essentially it is cordless. To be fair, I did learn about them from a friend from Europe. My kitchen wouldn’t be complete without one and often take it car camping with us as it makes such fast, easy hot water when plugged into the cigarette lighter. Much faster than a propane stove.

  9. What is the benefit of using an electric kettle versus a regular kettle? I am an American and I love my regular kettle! I would never imagine heating my water in the microwave–that just sounds gross! But it also seems weird to me to have another appliance to plug in rather than just popping on the burner and heating water in a regular kettle. Hmm??

  10. We had a kettle on a gas stove when I was growing up and it’s what I use now. I did have a tiny red electric kettle when I lived in an apartment with an electric stove – it was really handy and I figured I was using electricity either way. There seems to be many more attractive options now. Once in a while I consider getting an electric kettle, but it’s one more thing on my already cluttered counters. I never use the microwave to make tea.

  11. I love my electric kettle! I always had a stovetop kettle until I got married about 8 years ago. A wonderful friend and coworker from England bought us an electric kettle as a gift, and we’ve been using the same one ever since–it’s the Capresso listed at #8 above. Although I’m firmly addicted to my morning coffee, once the pot is spent I switch to tea throughout the day when it’s cold outside, and I like to sip hot tea in the evening year-round. We also use it to boil water for my kids’ quick-cook oatmeal in the mornings.

  12. I’m British and I can’t imagine a kitchen without a kettle?! Why would you waste gas and time boiling water on your hob? In terms of kitchen space, it’s probably a generalisation but American kitchens seem so much bigger than ours, so I don’t get how you wouldn’t have space. Then again you have huge coffee machines and weird toaster oven things that we don’t really do! Oh- and I don’t drink tea or hot drinks, but still use my kettle daily for boiling water for pasta, potatoes etc

  13. I have the Bella right now. I’ve probably been through five electric kettles over the last 15-20 years. Back then, they were hard to find. Now, easy peasy! I use mine every day. Can’t live without it. Tea, Cup of Noodles, Jello, hot chocolate, anything requiring hot water.

  14. I converted to using an electric kettle after you posted your blue&white one a while back. We bought the same one and I am a total convert. I love being able to turn it on and not have to worry about it afterwards. It is also so much FASTER than a stovetop kettle. We use ours multiple times a day for tea and pour-over coffee. Thanks for your initial recommendation on this – it has definitely been one of those small but very real improvements in our kitchen!

  15. German American here – can’t remember a time we did not have an electric kettle. Use it every day, several times: tea & French Press coffee for breakfast, ginger tea, afternoon tea, evening tea (try TIESTA teas, so yummy). Also use that baby to expedite boiling water for pasta or potatoes on week nights.

  16. What you have to remember is that electricity in the UK runs on 240 volts whereas in the US it runs on 120 volts. This means that in the UK (and Europe too) an electric kettle boils much faster than one on the stove, be it gas or electric. It’s practically instantaneous. In North America electric kettles don’t have that advantage. They’re a little faster, but not by much.

    1. Yes, this! We had an electric kettle in the states but it seemed to take forever to heat up. We’re in the UK now and our electric kettle can be boiling in under 2 minutes – it’s the voltage difference, I’m convinced.

      1. I’m not convinced, unless you had the same results with multiple brands in both countries.
        My electric kettle (a Hamilton Beach) boils my coffee water in less than a minute, with about 2 minutes if I want to make a whole thermos full.
        To the doubters above: even after using & loving an electric kettle while living in Northern Ireland I used a stovetop kettle for 30 years, thinking it’s an unneeded expense when not dealing with an AGA cooker, & 1 more thing on the counter. Bought one when my last stovetop kettle croaked, & Never. Going. Back. It is SO much faster. I can have my pour-over faster than a Keurig, & without all the waste & expense. If the power goes out I just put water in a pot on the gas stove–it’s not nearly as big a pain as trying to smoosh coffee beans without my electric grinder.
        First world problem, I know.

    2. OK, this makes so much sense. I have a gas stove and boil my water in a regular little saucepan. Even using a saucepan it takes only marginally longer than the electric kettles I have used at work or others’ homes. It seems to be 3-4 minutes for an electric kettle and 4-5 minutes to boil on the stove. If the electric kettle really was an instantaneous as others say, I’d be more into the idea, but considering the 1 minute savings I’ve experienced, I don’t see enough of a difference to buy another small appliance that will clutter up my counters.

  17. I had never heard of them I until I lived in Scotland right after college. When I moved back to TX I ended up getting one for myself. They heat up water so fast and are so handy for heating up water for whatever purposes you need it. I am now living in Scotland again and use ours multiple times a day. As others said, it’s great since it turns itself off. Everyone here uses a cafetière (french press) for their coffee so they use it for that as well. I can see how as Americans since tea isn’t consumed as much and a lot of people use drip coffee makers that they wouldn’t need it as often. But I just love them and will always own one now.

  18. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    I grew up drinking tea- my dad is from England. We’d call my grandparents to tell them we were on our way over and simply say “Put the kettle on.” I loved my Grandma’s teacups. So many happy memories. I worked for a lovely store years ago. I remember a bride calling to say that her teapot had broken and that we should replace it. She had put her teapot on the stove to boil water. It shattered. I was gobsmacked. So, no, Americans don’t quite know what to do sometimes.

  19. I did a year abroad in Ireland, and now I have to pour my boiling water OVER my tea bag. No way I’m dipping a bag into microwaved water, LOL! Another advantage to electric kettles is that they are much safer for kids to use. Both my mother and MIL have now purchased one since staying with me.

  20. We have one and I balked at the cost initially but my wife is very into tea and we do actually use the various temperature settings. Her parents are British and that made an impact on her; she works her way through a pot of tea every day, even when it’s 95 degrees out. And because she’s not a coffee drinker, it allows us to each make our preferred hot drinks (I’ll do a single ground coffee pour over).

  21. Getting a bit nerdy here, but I’ve always guessed that electric kettles are less popular stateside because US electric current (I forget the technical word- watts?hertz?) is quite a bit less than the UK. I live in The British Isles and I would say it takes less then 90 seconds to boil 1.5 litres. My old work had an electric kettle and it took maybe double that- long enough to not be “worth” it. Also, Americans have coffee machines for their hot drink dispensing.

  22. We use our keurig to make tea water. We don’t even use the tea k-cups, we just use the keurig to heat the water. It’s super fast and consistent, plus no forgetting about it (or whistle to wake the baby). Even my kids are tea drinkers, so we go through at least a dozen cups of tea a day between us all. I wonder though, if an electric kettle would be more efficient…but then again we like having the keurig for coffee drinking guests, so I don’t know that I want another appliance!

    1. Yep! We’re Keurig folks too. Never use the cups though – well, I keep a stash on hand for guests. I’m a big tea drinker and my son is following in my footsteps. My husband enjoys decaf coffee. All of us love a hot chocolate on a cold day. The Keurig serves all those purposes. I did buy one that has a carafe so if we’re having a large group, I can make a large pot of coffee (or hot water) for folks.

  23. We first used an electric kettle in our AirBnB when we visited Europe. So fast and convenient for tea! We’ve been using one here in the US ever since. It’s faster than my stove for boiling water.

  24. .Like many other Americans I first became familiar with them when I traveled and stayed with friends in UK and Europe in my 20’s. Oddly, my grad school roommate is Irish and she never wanted one while she lived in the US. She thought using the kettle on the stove (which was novel to her) was one less thing to have to plug in! I boil water every day for french press coffee and around 10 years ago my kettle boiled dry on the stove. I got an electric kettle after that and have not looked back since!

  25. This really made me laugh! In South Africa we wouldn’t dream of boiling water in a microwave. Electric kettles all the way! When I travelled to the States earlier this year I spent ages scouring my hotel room and then my Airbnb for an electric kettle before realising there simply wasn’t one.

    On that note: we’re big tea drinkers in SA and finding a decent cup while eating out was more difficult that I thought it would be. There was plenty herbal tea on offer but a good cup of ordinary ceylon with a drop of milk was tough to find!

  26. totally have an electric kettle, but both myself and my in-laws are tea drinkers, and my husband likes pour over coffee, so it is essential! Was in Ireland last year and loved the fact that they gave you a whole teapot when you ordered tea, versus the sad mug of tepid hot water and choice of tea bags you get here in the States. I don’t think I could live without our dutch oven—it is used for SO many things. Also really love our toaster oven, such a versatile little appliance.

  27. I grew up with my mom only using a stove tea pot. So I didn’t know electric kettle’s were a thing. I use my Keurig, which dispenses just hot water if I need it. I guess I don’t really have a use for an electric kettle, but they sure are cute!

  28. Electric kettles are pretty common in Canada too, I can’t remember ever not having one. I use it for more than tea – boiling water for all sorts of recipes, so much more efficient than a pot on the stove!
    I am so curious as to why they are common in Canada but not the US?!

  29. My coffee maker has a hot water system but I have a personal electric kettle at work. My inlaws microwave their water and my mom uses a stove top kettle.

    I drink hot tea all day at work when it gets cold. My British colleague was completely flabbergasted when I put milk in my cup before pouring the hot water. I guess that’s the not the British way to make a cup of tea!

  30. As a heathen American, I heat up water in a Pyrex measuring cup in my microwave for my morning cup of tea. I don’t understand why that is such a horrible option for a single serving. I have a tea kettle I use on my gas stove if I’m making a pitcher of iced tea or have multiple people over who drink hot tea.

    I used to be part of a MOPS group with a lot of tea drinkers so we had an electric kettle which we used and loved. My pet peeve is being at places that don’t have dedicated hot water carafes and there is a faint coffee taste to the water.

    1. Argh! As a Brit I’m holding my head in my hands here! Tea doesn’t brew properly unless you pour boiling water over the teabag, and the boiling effect just isn’t the same with a microwave.

  31. Love my Cuisinart with different temperature settings and take it to the Airbnbs that we visit since they frequently only have microwaves and no cooktop. As others have mentioned, I use it daily at home for oatmeal, pasta, pressed coffee, loose tea, and anything else that requires boiling water. It’s a great time saver. I also have a lovely stainless stove top kettle that I use if I need just a bit of hot water.

  32. Oh! My lands! This post is SO timely! We just moved back to the US after being in the UK, and we miss our kettle so much. I go to boil water for pasta and find myself looking all over the kitchen for the kettle! Crazy!

    I’m just getting around to trying to decide which kettle I want to buy, so thanks for the recommendations.

    For those who want to know why electric instead of stovetop: they shut off on their own, they are quick, it doesn’t take up a burner and doesn’t get splashed by whatever is cooking on the stove (when I don’t move it off when I am cooking dinner), less “residual heat” from the burner being hot, . . .

  33. I went to graduate school in Scotland (1/4 of the price and a great school. Jackpot!). Upon my return home, I purchased my first electric tea kettle. Today I use #8 on your list.

  34. We have a Japanese made hot water dispenser that sits on the counter. We actually bought it at Costco! I make aeropress coffee in like a minute with it (the longest part is grinding beans). Love it! We primarily use it to make tea, which we drink all day and night and it is so amazing to have it there ready. It is so nice to set the temperature of the water for tea. Most places that sell hot tea use scalding water temps from the espresso machines that make for bad tea. I wish that local cafes used an electric kettle for tea drinkers and had nice cups! Turns out that home is where we have the best tea experiences.

  35. I’m an American and I’ve never in my life heard of anyone boiling water for tea in the microwave. I guess people do it, but…

    1. My mom puts tea bags in warm microwaved water. She uses like 2 or 3 tea bags at a time. I’m worldly so we use an electric kettle at my house. We love it except we realized all the steam was damaging the cabinet directly above it. Now we just pull it out a few inches further from the wall.

  36. I grew up in the US and have always had an electric tea kettle! I am half Korean though and it’s essential there too so…also in Korea they have special pots that heat up suuuper quick used soley to make ramen in (and then eat ramen out of using the lid as a make-shift plate). Cup of Noodle is an American travesty. You must boil the water, add the mix, let that boil for a good few minutes and THEN add noodles. Bonus points for adding fresh green onions or other veggies.

  37. This is so funny. An electric kettle is an absolute staple of everyone’s household here in New Zealand. No one would be without one.
    I’m quite alarmed now that American’s don’t use them, or use kettles at all! The horror! I might need to pack a small travel kettle for our holiday we have planned in a couple of years time – I wouldn’t be able to survive without my proper british cuppa ! :) I even use filtered water in my kettle as I’m so fussy about what my tea tastes like!
    It fascinates me though, the things we don’t know about other places that we assume are just like our own.

  38. I’m originally from the south, and we just boiled water in a pot on the stove for our sweet tea ;-). But, several years ago, my fancy stove top kettle bit the dust, I bought an electric one on-line, and I have never looked back! I am a regular tea drinker, but I find it also useful for my French press, boiling water for jello or anything that you need super hot water for (I don’t have to waste water running in the sink–hey–I’m in California now), and yes, to make sweet iced tea! It is so much faster than the stovetop–I could never go back!

  39. I love a great tea kettle! i would love to try and electric kettle but my husband says “Why? When we have a kettle and a gas stove?” My reason I admit is for cuteness sake. Yes I have a Kitchen Aid mixer and it’s one of my true loves..<3

  40. We had friends from Israel stay with us years ago and were shocked that we didn’t have an electric kettle. They went and bought one immediately and proceeded to use it all day. Now I’m the one who uses it all day. I even travel with a small one. Love my electric kettle!

  41. I am an American living in Qatar, where the tap water isn’t the best to drink. Everyone has a large water dispenser, and many come with a hot water option. That’s what I use for oatmeal and herbal tea…after I’ve convinced myself that this time it might not taste like twig water.

  42. Hey there 😊
    I’m German living in Germany, and I’ve never encountered a house without an electric kettle!
    So much faster even compared to my induction stove. Significantly more safe and so convenient!
    But, would you please explain– what on earth is a “keurig”? Never heard of it, I’m imagining some kind of special appliance for making Coffee?
    Thanks 😊

    Beautiful options above…. although I love the Schott glass option, I wouldn’t buy it for pur house.
    We use tap water (no chlorine or other odors/flavors in it, and the quality is equal to bottled water. Nearly everyone drinks tap water directly from the tap without boiling it first).
    But, our region has very hard water and there’s plenty of deposit which just wouldn’t look so nice in the crystal kettle.

    1. Keurig /ˈkjʊərɪɡ/ is a beverage brewing system for home and commercial use. It is manufactured by the American company Keurig Green Mountain, which is headquartered in Waterbury, Vermont. The main Keurig products are: K-Cup pods, which are single-serve coffee containers; other beverage pods; and the proprietary machines that brew the beverages in these pods.

      This lets everyone brew a single serving of whatever coffee (or tea or cocoa). This way there’s no old coffee sitting in the pot on the burner. It’s definitely more plastic waste, (although you can buy a reusable pod and fill it with the coffee of your choice) but it’s convenient. We have one at my job, but people also use them at home.

  43. All Americans I know, including myself use a stove kettle. I never saw an electric kettle until I moved to Europe. But I have to admit the English make the best tea in the world!

  44. Of course I have an electric kettle! Actually, I have two: one in my kitchen and one in my office at work. Fast, efficient. I grew up in the UK, daughter of a Brit, so I know what a real cup of tea should taste like :) and it requires boiling water. I won’t order tea in a US restaurant because most use a disgusting excuse for ‘hot’ water — please, I could spit warmer water. The poor teabag has to wallow in the tepid stuff and it can barely turn beige, much less a rich brown color with any flavor. Not that I feel strongly about this…

  45. Hahahahah! So funny… What an insane waste of time/gas to boil water on the stove top! It has nothing to do with the size of the kitchen. My kitchen is enormous, I want my FRESH ( any self respecting tea drinker knows that you have to use freshly drawn water no reheating!) water boiled with no waiting many times per day. 1.5 liters in 90 seconds- not several minutes!

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