The water we use is an integral part of the tea-drinking experience. The quality of the water, the temperature, and how we pour it out all can increase our connection to the leaves. A good kettle can help give you the optimal conditions for brewing.
What makes for a good kettle for tea?
There are so many kettles on the market; it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. At Tea Drunk, we prioritize maximizing the tea's potential, so these are a few of the traits we look for in a kettle:
Temperature Telling: A kettle that can tell you the temperature your water is at will be immensely helpful to your brewing. Not all teas brew best at boiling, so it is essential to know what temperature the specific tea you are brewing is optimal and sticking to it. This requirement leads us to prefer electric kettles, but you can also purchase an excellent thermometer to tell the water temperature of a stovetop kettle.
There are ancient ways to estimate the approximate temperature of your water without the added technology of a thermometer. During Tang and Song Dynasties, this system of spotting the level of the boil was adopted by many individuals on their own; there wasn't a set standard. At the time, the tea leaves used were different than they are today. They were much bitsier and powdered like matcha, causing the ideal temperature to differ. At this time, people thought that water that was boiling was too "mature" or "old" and would let it cool down before using it to brew tea, or just never let it reach a full boil.
Calm water (as in water no longer making a boiling sound in the kettle) is still preferred as not to disturb the leaves; many teas today (especially when gong fu brewing) do require boiling water, but never "jumpy" water right off of a boil.
Below is the subjective interpretation of ancient times:
Shrimp eye: 36.5℃——78.9℃
Crab eye: 79℃——86℃
Fish Eye: 86.9℃——92℃
Drumming Wave: 96℃——99.8℃
A gooseneck spout: the long, curved spout on a kettle is called a gooseneck. This attribute will help you control the speed at which the water pours out onto the leaves, as well as assist your aim. Controlling the speed is important because when brewing tea, we want to minimize how much we disturb the leaves. Maintaining your aim is helpful when we have to raise the kettle higher to create enough force when brewing the tea. You always want high water, low tea. As you get better at brewing tea, you want to create an intuitive relationship with the water. With practice, you should be feeling like you are putting water down. This "water placing" feeling includes pouring the water from the kettle into your pot and pouring the tea from its vessel into your cup. It's a gentle feeling and one that you gain confidence in overtime. A gooseneck spout on your kettle will help you achieve this feeling with ease.
Aesthetically Pleasing: This is more superficial than functional, but we should love all aspects of our tea experience. Having a kettle you visually enjoy having in your space will elevate your big-picture experience with tea.
With these requirements in mind, we recommend the Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle (they also have an excellent temperature-telling stovetop option with a gooseneck that we love!) Or the Bonavita gooseneck kettle is a more affordable, great option.