Tea kettle vs teapot | How to choose and use them

Tea kettle vs teapot, which one is which? Well, the tea kettle is the one that you boil your tea water in and into the teapot, you pour the boiled water to do the steeping. But how to choose the one that is perfect for your home and lifestyle? In this article, I go through the main differences between the teapot and the tea kettle. I guide you as well on what you should look for when you want to find a teakettle and teapot that matches your needs and goes perfectly to your kitchen.

Cast iron teapot on a wooden table, in the front of a tiled wall.

If you have followed me for a while you know that I am fueled with tea. The name of this blog, Blue Tea Tile, already gives a hint of what my first choice of drink is. I love the art of the tea-making process on a slow morning or the relaxed evening time. Teas and herb infusions are a big part of our natural living lifestyle. I choose the big porcelain teapot when my friend comes over and we steep some tea and sit chatting while our toddlers run around. In the evening tea time when I make sweet Moroccan Mint Tea, I choose a smaller teakettle to put the tea steeping straight on the stove. 

White teapot in between the kitchen towels. On the top a label with "Teakettle vs teapot" and "how to choose the best one for you".

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Tea kettle vs teapot

The main three differences between the tea kettle and teapot are their function, appearance, and durability. Just remember that the tea kettle heats and the teapot steeps. The teapots are generally made with more delicate materials and their appearance is beautiful for they are meant for serving the tea. The tea kettle on the other hand is generally more rough looking and more functional for it is meant to heat the water and that’s it. 

The tea kettle heats and the teapot steeps.

The third distinguishing factor in the discussion of the tea kettle vs teapot is the durability. Tea kettles are more heat-resistant because their purpose is to resist heat when heating on the stovetop. Do not try to put the teapot on the stove, they might warp, darken or even crack due to heat!

Types of tea kettles

There are two general types of tea kettles. The stovetop tea kettles and electric tea kettles. 

Copper teakettle on the top of the stove.

Stovetop tea kettle

The stovetop tea kettle is the traditional one. You can fill it with water and put it on the stove on the direct heat. Some tea kettles are perfect for gas stoves too. Mainly the stovetop kettles are used only to heat up the water, but there are exceptions like the ones that we stashed in our backpacks when we visited our family in Morocco. These are perfect for steeping the tea directly on the stovetop to make some Moroccan Mint Tea

Electric tea kettle

Electric tea kettles you need to plug in, and are strictly meant for heating only water – I mean it. I can tell you that years ago my sister tried to heat some glogg in one and it did not end up well…

For the electric tea kettle, you don’t need a stovetop at all, so it is convenient for places without a proper kitchen too. The electric tea kettle is also significantly faster than a stovetop kettle, so you should factor that in when choosing your tea kettle.

An electric tea kettle on a kitchen table.

Maintenance of the tea kettle

The stovetop teakettle is easy to wash, they are normally big enough to fit the brush in. When washing the electric tea kettle, do not immerse it only wash and rinse the inside of the kettle. To keep your kettle in better condition, do not let the water sit when the tea kettle is not in use. If you need a deep wash, mix some vinegar into the water and let it sit overnight. Wash and brush with a drop of dish soap in the morning and boil fresh water a few times before using it again.

What you should look for when buying a tea kettle

Size and purpose

When buying a stovetop kettle, you should primarily check that it actually is meant for a stove or gas stove if that is what you use. Choose the one big enough to boil a sufficient amount of water for your teapot.

Whistle option

If you are a busy mom, a homemaker who tends to do many things and not wait for the water to boil, you might want the one that has a whistle option built into the spout. That means the tea kettle whistles when the steam is trying to escape so you know when the tea water is ready even though you are doing laundry in the other room.

Tiny white teapot on the edge of a rough wooden table.

Temperature controller

When buying an electric tea kettle, you should think if you are mainly drinking black teas and herbal teas or if you prefer green tea and white tea. If you drink the latter, they are generally steeped with water only about 80°C while the first ones are generally good at 95°C.

Hand holding an electric kettle handle where you can control the temperature of the water and a the keep warm button.

In tea steeping, the temperatures are quite important factors if you want to make a perfect cup of tea and avoid bitter flavors. Green tea drinkers might benefit from the electric tea kettle with a temperature controller. Generally, with the temperature control, you can choose the desired temperature of the water between 70°C, 80°C, 90°C and 100°C. 

When I worked at a fine-dining restaurant for several years we used every day the Bosch wireless tea kettle that had the temperature selection with the handy « keep warm » button. The importance of temperature was crucial to steeping the best tea for the dining customers and with the right water temperature and steeping time, it was possible. The electric tea kettle worked like a charm for years even though it was in very heavy use daily!

Types of teapots

There are so many different types of teapots and options to choose between. I will categorize them according to their different materials. Choose the type of teapot depending on your needs. When choosing the teapot, aside from the materials think about the size too! Are you the only tea drinker in the house? Then you might need only a tiny teapot. If the whole family enjoys the tea then a bigger one is a great choice.

Ceramic teapot

Ceramic teapots are maybe the most commonly known. When you picture a teapot in your head many automatically think of the ceramic British tea time tea set or a teapot like the Mrs. Potts Teapot from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Originally the ceramic teapots came from China. 

Porcelain teapot with a bamboo handle on a wooden tray.

The ceramic is easy to maintain with washing after use and doesn’t give any side taste to your tea. Ceramic teapots also keep the tea warm longer time, which is nice if you are a chill and slow morning tea drinker as I am.

Glass teapot

Teapots made out of glass have started to be very popular. Have you seen the Instagram feeds of the herbalist Jess Bergeron (@jkb.journal) or the immunity booster infusions that food photographer Teri-Ann Carty does? They look amazing and so delicious, thanks to the transparent glass teapot. It definitely brings your tea-drinking experience to another level! 

Glass teapot with flowers steeping inside on a wooden surface.

If you are making infusions with some fruits for example and you are looking for a stunning teapot for your table, glass teapot is a perfect choice for you. The appearance is awesome, but the downside is that the glass doesn’t hold warm that long. I would suggest that you warm up the glass teapot before using it to keep the tea hot for a bit longer time. 

Look for borosilicate glass teapots, for they are designed to be stronger and you don’t need to worry every second that you break your precious teapot. However, for a family with adventurous toddlers, you might think twice before purchasing, for glass is still glass and it is a substantially more delicate option than the rest.

Stainless steel teapot

Stainless steel teapots are easy to clean and are durable and withstand easily a few bumps. These last for years and they are a reliable companion for your tea-making. Look for one that has a wooden handle so as not to burn yourself or use a special tea mitt for the handle. If you are a fast-paced type and things might be falling from your hands when washing the dishes and multitasking – stainless steel is the ideal choice and best material for your teapot.

Metallic teapot with a blue teapot mitten on a blue tea tile. With it on a silver colored tray there are two glasses with mint twigs in.

Cast iron teapot

The cast iron teapots or kettles are known as Japanese tetsubins. They are beautiful ones and they keep warm very well. The downside is that you need to be careful not to burn yourself. Look for high-quality ones with a bamboo handle to make it easier to use the teapot and remember to use a pot coaster so as not to ruin your table. If you are longing for a bit of Asian tea ceremony style and you are interested in the art of tea, then cast iron might be the best teapot for you.

Japanese style cast iron tea pot showcased in the front of a set table.

Other materials

There are still several different materials used in teapots like clay, stoneware, and copper. Those are less used, but still good options as well depending on your needs and wishes.

Copper teapot on a metallic tray with Turkish tea glasses.

Maintenance of the teapot 

To keep your teapot in good condition, remember to pour the rest of the tea out, and don’t let the water sit when not in use. Empty the tea strainer too, so it will not get moldy with moistened tea leaves. Most of the teapots are easy to wash and they can be immersed in water. Many ceramic and glass teapots you can wash also in a dishwasher.

For the spout, I find very handy the tiny dish brush that I purchased just for the teapot. It enters nicely into the spout so that I can keep it clean as well.

What other things you should look for when buying a teapot

Red, low model cast iron pot with dark handle on a wooden table.

Spout

Not all teapots are perfectly designed. Make sure if you have a low model teapot that the spout is at least a bit lower than the top of the teapot. When you start pouring the tea there is a risk that the tea will leak from the top of the teapot, right under the lid, if the spout is higher than the low-model teapot lid. That is because you need to tilt the teapot more than you need with a lower spout or higher teapot. I had once a beautiful perfectly round teapot, but if I was not super careful when pouring (which I wasn’t ever), I burned my hands. Every. Single. Time. You may understand why I don’t have that teapot any longer.

Lid

Also, look for a teapot that has a lid that locks. Many teapots have tiny nobs that when you rotate slightly the lid lock and it will not fall when you pour. It is not fun to splash around the hot tea when the lid falls into your tea mug – I speak from deep experience.

Integrated infuser

Depending on how you steep the tea, you might want to check you have an integrated tea infuser in your teapot. I use a separate stainless steel infuser for the loose tea leaves but would be sometimes more convenient if the removable infuser actually fits in nicely. If you are a teabag drinker you do not need the focus on the infuser at all.

A hand pours tea from a glass teapot with an integrated infuser.

Questions for you to find your perfect teakettle or teapot

When making comparisons, the tea kettle vs teapot, you should think about your tea-steeping habits and personal preferences.  When you are about to buy a new or thrifted teapot or tea kettle, you can ask yourself these questions.

  • What are your favorite teas, do you need the specific water temperatures?
  • Do you need a fast electric tea kettle to speed up the morning time? 
  • Do you want to hear the nostalgic whistling stovetop tea kettle as a part of your homemaker life? 
  • Do you steep infusions more than teas so that it would make sense to enjoy the visual glass teapot? 
  • Do you feel more comfortable with the classics and you choose a ceramic teapot with the matching tea set?  
  • Do you want a beautiful teapot that you can also display on the kitchen shelf?
  • Does the teapot feel good in your hand and can you lift and pour with it easily?
  • Do you need a tiny teapot for one person or a bigger one for multiple tea drinkers?

If you are a tea enthusiast, you might have several teapots for different occasions like we do. There are no wrong answers here. So I hope you enjoy your tea journey and keep me posted in the comments!

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Black, decorated cast iron teapot on a wooden plank, in the front of a white tiled wall. In front text with "Tea kettle vs teapot" and "how to choose the best one for you"

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you for such an insightful article on tea pots and tea kettles. I’ve had the same stainless steel tea kettle for many years – maybe time I upgraded to a pretty tea pot! Especially interested in a glass one.

  2. Great look at teapots vs tea kettles. As a green tea drinker, I appreciate the tip that electric tea kettles have a temperature controller for a better experience.