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.

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

  1. No. They are uncommon here, but I personally know three young children who have been badly burned in accidents involving electric tea kettles. That’s a large quantity of extremely hot water compared to heating up one cup at a time.

  2. I think it was your article about your electric kettle that prompted me to get one. My husband got me the capresso (#8 on your list) for Christmas. We love it. My favorite feature is that it shuts off on its own. No more empty kettle on the gas stove. It’s so quick. We use it for tea, coffee, hot chocolate. I host a tea on Friday’s after work once a month for my best girlfriends. They loved it so much it became the gift of choice for one friend. She loves it, too!

  3. I live in Canada and use a kettle on the gas stove. I love the whistle and hate that electric kettles turn off automatically. I also don’t like the clutter of an electric kettle on the counter – I was ecstatic when my husband gave up coffee and we could get rid of the coffee maker on the counter. I drink lots of tea and use my kettle at least daily but grew up with a British mother and also cannot stand coffee.

  4. I LOVE MY ELECTRIC KETTLE!!!! I used it during my dorm days to make coffee with a press, and it took me all of 1 or 2 uses to realize “Holy crap! This boils water so quickly!”
    I don’t boil water any other way… and I cringe when my inlaws use the microwave. D:

    And, yeah, when we were in Scotland and England this summer, EVERY place had an electric kettle.

    || ||

  5. It’s funny, because as a Canadian – it’s soo odd to me that electric kettles aren’t readily available. Given that I do a lot of border/import work, manufacturers specifically make and sell these for the Cdn market and barely bother in the US. When friends of mine moved there, they commented that it was nearly impossible to just pick up one at the Walmart or Target.

  6. I can’t imagine using the microwave. Blech! We are dedicated tea drinkers, and only have a coffee maker because someone gifted it to us. We just boil water in a kettle on the stovetop. My husband uses an electric one at work. I suppose if our stovetop kettle breaks or something, we’d replace it with electric.

  7. Stove top kettle all the way. I love my cobalt blue kettle on my stove – so pretty. Besides I don’t want another appliance on my countertop. My mom has an electric kettle and I use it at her house and i get it, but it’s not for me.

  8. How timely – I’ve been looking around for the perfect electric kettle after getting hooked on them on a a trip to England. I had an electric tea kettle but rarely used it because it did not have the auto shut off function. We use our stovetop kettle daily (no microwave – actually stayed with someone who didn’t have a kettle. It didn’t occur to me to use the microwave. They were befuddled that I used a pot on the stove top :) Thanks for presenting these options for kettles. I think this will motivate me to pull the trigger and buy one

  9. We have a gas range, so it’s super fast to heat a pot of water for a crowd. If we just need a cup, we have a hot water function on our Jura coffee machine. I wouldn’t want another appliance to take up valuable counter space. (I’m Con Mari-ing my house, lol!)

  10. Well I’m sold! My teens boil water in the microwave all the time for instant foods and it drives me bonkers! Goodbye drippy microwave messes! Sayonara to waiting for what feels like ions for the dang pot to boil! Thanks for linking so many great options, Gabby.

  11. My mom grew up in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) which was a British colony. Her culture is therefore very British. I grew up with English tea in the morning and then again at 4pm. Neighbors still come show up at my mom’s house around 4pm because they know there will be a pot of tea and people sitting around the table. I took an electric kettle to college so I could make tea in my dorm room. I’ve always had one as an adult. Tea made in a microwave makes me cry. A couple of other thoughts on tea:

    – I live in California. When I go to the Midwest for work, or to visit my in-laws I travel with my own tea bags because it’s so hard to find good english tea in parts of the US. Lipton’s does not cut it!
    – Even though I grew up in a tea drinking house hold, whenever I visit my family in Zimbabwe, or they come stay with us, I am floored by the amount of tea they drink. Tea was constantly available and being offered.

  12. The microwave disdain is hilarious. I’d love to see a true, blind taste test done with tea made from it and any other boiled water. I’m guessing it would come out the same as the tests done between expensive wines and much more moderately priced ones (spoiler… Ya can’t tell. https :// Tea is drunk less in the USA, the microwave means no extra heat in the kitchen, and no kettle means one less appliance plugged in and/or taking up space.

    1. Thank you :). I honestly don’t understand how water boiled in the microwave would taste dramatically different. I’m the only hot tea drinker in my house. I usually have one large cup in the morning and then switch to iced tea (with water boiled on my stove top kettle). I’m not anti-electric kettle but it doesn’t seem practical for my needs.

      1. I suspect the problem is that microwaved water usually isn’t quite as hot as water from a kettle, which means that the tea doesn’t brew as nicely.

        Put me down as another Brit who is flummoxed by the idea of not having a separate kettle. I never boil a pan of water on the stove from cold – I always boil the kettle first, it’s so much quicker.

    2. Thank you! i was searching these comments trying to understand why microwave hot water is bad or “nasty” ? Definitely tastes the same as boiled electric kettle water!

  13. Another Canadian electric kettle user…don’t even own a microwave!

    PS…no stand mixer either, just a very sturdy hand mixer I won on a live TV show MANY years ago!

  14. It’s very true that every household in Australia would own an electric or occasionally stove top kettle. I don’t know what I’d do without mine!
    We arrived at our airbnb holiday house yesterday to find that there was a power outage in the area. I discovered this because the first thing I did was try to boil the kettle for tea after a long drive :)

  15. Hahaha i love this discussion, I’m British and can’t imagine life without a kettle (electric!).
    “Put the kettle on” is a phrase that means anything and everything – but mostly a form of comfort. Whether it’s cold, you’re sad, you need a chat, you’re ill… my mum’s reply was always, “i’ll put the kettle on”.

    To put it into context when I moved into halls (first year shared accommodation at university), I lived in a flat with 5 girls, all sharing a kitchen… we all arrived on the first day and unpacked our kitchen stuff, we all had brought kettles!

    The hardest thing about going on holiday to America was when I asked for a tea and they bought me a mug of hot water with a tea bag on the side!! This is sacrilege to British people, the hot water has to go on the teabag! And then to top it off, the waiter brought cream instead of milk to go with it :) the hardship!

    1. My mum was “gasping” for a decent cuppa last time she was in the USA. She said exactly the same thing about the tea bag on the side and cream!

  16. As an American and a regular tea drinker (with a family who also enjoy tea themselves, including the 4 kids), I can’t imagine not having an electric kettle. To be fair, I learned of the wonders of the electric kettle from my Irish family – I have never seen an electric kettle in another American kitchen, unless there is a resident in the house from anywhere in Europe.
    We use it for making instant hot chocolate, oatmeal in the mornings, or for making coffee in the French press too. It’s probably the most heavily used appliance in my kitchen, between breakfasts and teas – the only thing that gets used multiple times a day, every single day.
    (Mine is ugly though and this post makes me feel like I need a new, pretty kettle since we do actually use it so much.)

  17. As many of the above comments say I also just cannot imagine life without my electric kettle. And it also is probably the most used applicance in our kitchen. Coming from a German/English family with an English mother I think I have never lived in a house without a kettle (stove or electric) i or at a pinch an immersion heater (which we used to have at my first ever flat share for heating water). My mother had a mini immersion heater for using in hotels. She just had to have her cup of tea in the morning – as do I. But I now have a mini electric kettle to take on trips! My daughter’s class here in Germany (year 10) also has a kettle in the classroom so the kids can make themselves tea or pot noodles etc.

  18. I can’t believe you don’t use kettles in America!! I’m Irish and live in Germany and use the kettle at least 10-15 times a day. How do you boil water for hot water bottles, baby bottles, pasta, potatoes, eggs etc. etc.?? And of course tea – I even get tea bags sent over to Germany from Ireland as you can’t get a decent black tea here. Never mind trying to make tea without a kettle!

  19. I’m American married to an Englishman for 16 yrs. My in-laws usually visit us for two weeks at Christmas and the electric kettle is a must have due to their need for tea (and coffee) several times a day. Our kids are obsessed with tea and only drink English teas brought over from when we visit. I carry their favorites in my purse for when we are out and about and want a cup of tea or on a plane ride. I’m fascinated by the word “hob” instead of stove. I have never come across it before. My in-laws and English extended family and friends don’t use it.

  20. I’m American and have been a tea drinker for years. I switched from an electric tea kettle to a Breville Tea Maker so I could brew loose leave tea with a touch of a button. It’s similar to a coffee maker, but for tea. I’ve had it almost six years, use it multiple times a day, and feel like it was worth the money.

  21. I don’t drink coffee or tea and neither does my husband. My Opa has an electric one in his kitchen and when our English cousins come to visit that thing is out of the cabinet and used several times throughout the day….the English love their tea.

  22. Most Australians would have a kettle on the kitchen bench. My Mum calls when she is 5 minutes away and says “put the kettle on”. It’s a staple for us, even though we love our espresso machine too :)

  23. yes! I’ve have a Cuisantart .. but also had another brand. Both good. My dad got me hooked (anglofile). I love it… It’s sooooo quick! Mine has different setting for different types of tea (delicate v. black, etc. ) My kids also use it to boil water for awful stuff like micro mac and cheese, ramen, and instant oatmeal :)

  24. If I recall correctly they did not have electrical kettles in Germany until the early 90s. My husband wanted one after having experienced the convenience during a business trip in the UK back then and we had to really search to find one. Now they are everywhere. I use it for anything that requires boiling water, for example rinsing out the sink after cleaning it.

  25. I love tea and French Press coffee and have had a kettle for years. It’s so helpful anytime I need to boil water– even if I’m cooking pasta, I’ll often boil the water in the kettle first, then pour it in the pot for much faster cooking. I rent our vacation home out on AirBnB and VRBO, and it’s stocked with a kettle!

  26. Just a comment about one of the teapots featured in your buying guide – #11 THE aqua Elechomes . We just purchased it less than a month ago & since then its top broke. The on/off switch stopped clicking off after coming to a full boil. Needless to say it is a super cute way for your family to receive some third degree burns. So, if you are looking to sit down with a perfect cuppa – look elsewhere.

  27. Oh my…I didn’t realize not having an electric kettle was even a thing! I guess up here in Canada some of us are keeping well connected to our British and European roots by using electric kettles. Mine gets a workout at least a few times a day…and sometimes not even for tea.
    I always enjoy l learning about the differences between Canadians and Americans…because to the rest of the world we are sometimes one and the same…and this whole electrical kettle thing was new to me! Thanks Gabby.

  28. ohhh my gosh – I moved back home and my mom refuses to get another electric kettle because she hates how appliances break and they only last for a few years around our house. So we have a stovetop kettle that whistles like a banshee. Who needs plyometric workouts when there is a kettle that destroys your hearing going off?

    I miss having an electric kettle so very much. I work from home so don’t have the luxury of a hot water dispenser at work. At least I have a hot water carafe so I only have to go through the kettle routine a few times a day now!

    1. *also from Canada.

      And for all those mentioning 4L hot water counter top appliances – those are amazing! But alas, countertop choices are not mine to make right now

  29. We have a hot water tap here in the Netherlands. It’s called a Quooker. You have a small boiler in the cupboard attached to a regular water pipe and it warms water and keeps it at 100 degrees Celcius. So nonfiing needed. When you want boiling water just press a child-protected button on the tap and you get boing water from your tap! Always a cup of tea without ANY wait!

  30. Never had an electric kettle, stove top kettles only. I was gifted one of those 4L hot water boiler/dispensers when my daughter was born and that was very convenient for heating up bottles or tea.

    I renovated my house recently and got an insinkerator instant hot water dispenser that sits right near the sink and I use it everyday. No need for stove top or electic kettle anymore. I love it!

  31. Caroline Bedard

    I had a Revere ware whistling kettle before I was married in 1985, which was for tea and Chemex pour over coffee. No microwave. When the whistle failed, we bought a beautiful cobalt blue Cuisinart whistling kettle. After a few years, we upgraded to a Cuisinart electric kettle. When it began to misfunction, we replaced it with the new Cuisinart electric kettle which has different temperature choices. I really prefer the mellower flavor of both tea and coffee made with water at a lower temp. We all use it for tea, and I often use it for Aerobie french press coffee. Our 2 children also had electric kettles when they went away to university in Toronto.

  32. Wow- love all the tea enthusiasm. I always feel adrift among the coffee fiends here in SF. (since I was a kid, in a native) I grew up with a stove top kettle but switched to electric about 10 yrs ago. I really recommend it if you just want to hear up a cup or twos worth of water- it’s by Bodum, they make bigger ones, but this is probably just 12-16 oz- and I’ve had the same one this whole time so extremely durable. I do agree about the convienance of quick heating, the self turn off- we also use it to heat up the kids thermoses for their lunches. And, yes- so hard to get good tea in American restaurants, the water is never hot enough. I had an Irish grandma, so the love of proper strong tea runs deep ;)

  33. Yep this is true! I’ve been into my friend’s house and they don’t even have a tea kettle. They just boil water through pans that’s why they are kinda weird. What are the best brands for electric kettle here in america? I know oster and ovente. Can you recommend me some?



  34. I’m American. Used stovetop kettles for years (‘cause my mom did) and then got an electric kettle and love love love it. Will not ever go back! But it pulls something like 10-15Amps and it trips circuit breakers often. So now I need an electrician to upgrade my kitchen to heavy duty double-pole 35A breakers. What fun! Good thing the tea is ready so quickly So No one gets grumpy.

  35. I use my DeLonghi (sp?) electric kettle multiple times daily. Wouldn’t want to be without it. It’s faster and more convenient than a stove-top kettle.

  36. A KEURIG. A perfect instant cup of coffee that takes less that 10-15 seconds. If you’ve never had one, it’s a must for coffee needers/drinkers!! 😄

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  38. Have a number of close friends who have live int he UK and Switzerland – I visit often and noted the electric kettle many, many years ago. Have had one ever since, use it daily for coffee and tea as well as whenever else I need hot water. My only issue is the noise the kettle makes when heating up the water. Would love to find a quieter one!

  39. I’ve had an electric kettle for years, and yes, discovered the convenience of it while I was in Europe, where, you are correct, EVERY hotel room and airbnb has one! I use it, not only for tea, but coffee (French press, or my fancy instant coffee), jello, anything that I might need warm/boiled water for. Every day it gets multiple uses! I cannot imagine not having one!

  40. They’re actually not popular in the US because the lower voltage, and amperage in our homes renders an electric kettles luxury, single use appliances that heat water more SLOWLY than the stovetop. So..

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