The 10 Best Glass Kettles
Why Glass Kettles Are King
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past several years, you've seen the dire warnings about heating foods and beverages in various types of plastics and metals. Although some, like the admonition against using aluminum, have been generally debunked, others, like the disapproval of BPA, remain. And in fact, some of the replacements for these materials may have problems of their own. For example, plastics free from BPA could contain BPS, a material that may be just as harmful.
You don't have to despair of ever having a cuppa that doesn't seem to spell grim death, though. Glass kettles provide an alternative to metal and plastic models that skirts the attendant problems in other materials: metallic taste, unnatural chemicals, rust, and more. That's because lead-free glass doesn't leach toxins into your water, no matter how long you use it for boiling. It can't transfer flavors, either, so you won't ever get that weird, sucking-on-pennies taste that comes from a lot of metal kettles. And since many come with a limescale filter, you won't be stuck googling "how to get this horrible filthy gunk off my kettle" every six months.
There's one caveat to heed, however, and it's this: If the heating element touches the water, it'll need to be safe, too. The cleanest, most stylish glass kettle in the world loses major points if it's got a substandard heating element submerged in the water, since this element could very well create unwanted flavors or become covered with scale. Fortunately, most glass kettles nowadays feature a concealed heating element, leaving you with nothing to worry about.
Of course, if you're truly hardcore, you may not want metal or plastic touching your water at all. For this, manufacturers make all-glass models that heat up on your stovetop. These elegant versions have no metal heating elements, no plastic base, no bells and whistles — nothing but clean glass to heat your water the old-fashioned way. Sure, they may not be as fast, but what you lose in speed, you make up for in charm.
Heat Your Water Your Way
Once you're sold on the idea of a glass kettle, you might rush out to buy one, only to hit a wall of further options. Lighted or plain? Temperature adjustable or automatic? Small, medium, or large? Such choices may seem flummoxing, but really, all you must do is reflect a bit on how you plan to use your new device.
First of all, do you entertain company regularly, have a large family of hot beverage drinkers, or consume many teas and/or coffees quickly and in rapid succession? If so, then a large-capacity model will do nicely. These usually hold up to around seven cups, or about 60 ounces, which lets you quickly offer tea to an entire gathering. If, on the other hand, you live alone or with people who are averse to delicious warm libations, then a smaller unit may suit you better.
Next, you might think about the level of precision you expect from your glass kettle. Green tea, for example, should be brewed at around 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, which is lower than the boiling point of water. A kettle that merely boils water, then, will offer you liquid that's too hot, leading to scalded, bitter tea. Coffee, too, can suffer when brewed with too-hot water; the best temperature for a smooth brew is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. For those who honor these distinctions, glass kettles that provide temperature control and selection are probably the best choice. Many also have a "keep warm" feature that — you guessed it — it keeps the water heated until you're ready for your next cup.
Perhaps the last choice you'll have to make relates mostly to style and a little to functionality. Many glass kettles are now of the light-up variety, tastefully illuminating the water through the glass, usually in blue. This not only lends a futuristic air to your tea- or coffee-making, but it also serves as a quick indicator that the kettle is, in fact, on and working. It's entirely possible that you might find this annoying, especially if you're one of many people who are tired of the seemingly unavoidable and constant glow of device lights.
One choice you probably won't have to make, fortunately, is between cordless and corded. Most manufacturers now locate a unit's electrical cord in the base, so you can pick up the kettle and pour with ease.
How Do Electric Kettles Work, Anyway?
You can look right through your glass kettle and watch the water boil, but doing so probably won't give you any clearer idea about how it actually works. Sure, you can see where the heat comes from, but how does it know how hot is hot enough? And what on earth makes it stop heating when the water is ready?
How the kettle works is dependent upon what type of heating element it uses. On the simpler side, we find those that are mechanical and rely on a bimetallic thermostat. When you turn the kettle on, two types of metal begin to heat up, but one of these expands faster than the other. Once the water starts to boil, the temperature forces one of the pieces of metal, the quicker-expanding one, to flex. In so doing, it snaps open, trips a circuit, and kills the electric current. Your kettle turns off, so you'll never have to fret that you've forgotten to stop it.
Glass kettles that are more sophisticated, the ones that can heat your water to a precise temperature, rely on electronic thermostats. These have a brain that allows them to perform more complex functions, such as switching the current on and off to keep the water at a certain temperature, as in the case of a "keep warm" function.