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Being an ex-pat living in New Jersey, I can offer some perspective on the kettle situation here - there are options - just not what you're used to.
I have purchased or received no less than 4 distinct types of kettle since I've been here.
- Aluminum (sorry for the spelling, when in Rome and all that) kettle that sits on the stove top (Dirt cheap at around $5) in just about any supermarket, in a variety of inoffensive painted colours. It has black plastic handle and whistle. This is on the stubby spout, and is spring loaded to be retracted with the thumb as you pour. Simultaneous blowing and pouring is required to avoid a scalded thumb - a skill that is soon mastered. Boils in < 9 minutes (that's how long it takes me to have a shower in the morning). All in all this is the workhorse of american kettles, and not bad for what you pay.
- Chrome plated steel behemoth - with olde worlde spout and wooden handle - given to us as a house warming gift (by a very nice american lady, of the southern variety). A number of innovations were present here. First the whistle appears to be some sort of ball-like device housed inside the spout, that moves out of the way as the kettle is tipped. While this appears to be a rather clever idea in principle, the whistle itself is much more of a whisper, and may not be heard at all during a rerun of Seinfeld. Unfortunately just a little too clever. The second innovation seems a somewhat curious at first. There's a mass of horizontal wire coils on which the body of the kettle rests. It is tempting to ridicule the poor object. However this tangled mass of wire happens to do a marvellous job of extracting every last bit of heat from your gas flame, so that the water boils before you know it. This manages to compensate for the deficiency of the whistle somewhat, since the water is usually boiling by the time you've got your teacup and biscuits prepared, and are thus still in earshot.
- A very nasty, flimsy looking chrome plated, kettle-like object that was probably the progeny of an electric water heater. Purchased in Macy's for $20. Hopeless thing. I never used it - probably gave it away to someone who would never use it (fortunately no shortage here)
- Krups automatic upright jug - a nice white plastic jobbie. Cost me a FORTUNE ($90, 10 yrs ago - at the time 30 quid was as much as I had paid - I'm sure inflation makes this sum seem small now). I could only find this in a specialty kitchen appliance store in Princeton - a University town with a real english tea shop, indicating a ready supply of suckers to be ripped off in such outrageous fashion (myself included). Essential office equipment, owing to the complete absence of water boiling equipment at the coffee stations, and the lack of understanding that would be shown should a non-automatic (see Item 3) be employed and inevitably left to fill an empty room with clouds of steam. Because, of course, it's never happened to anyone here before, so no sympathy, plus there's no doubt that the only Briton in the building who blathers on about the lack of boiling water is the one responsible. The only problem with this (and any) electric kettle, is that on 120 V it takes forever to boil. None of this spur-of-the moment, "I just fancy a cuppa" - advance planning required.
The only other comment I can make on the local infrastructure as it relates to tea preparation, is the totally unreasonable water pressure here. Taps (or "faucets") are generally of the "one nudge and they're full on" variety - this apparently is of particular benefit for the disabled. While this might be fine if the most your plumbing was designed for water trickling into the bath - only to be full in 20 minutes, here the plumbing serves the needs of hearty, chest pummelling showers - which is all well and good as a morning stimulant BUT it requires your full (I repeat FULL) attention and considerable skill when filling a kettle (or anything else). I suffer water splatter in some form on a daily basis. The danger lurks at every sink, and is particularly embarassing when visiting some new establishment, where the taps are unfamiliar. Emerging from the bathroom with wet splashes down the front of my trousers, in front of strange company - well enough said, except that if an able bodied person such as myself can't dodge the jet in time, what about the poor disabled chaps ? My sympathy is with them - having struggled long and hard for fair treatment, it must rankle.
Rob in America
||My husband will not have a bulbous kettle in the house, no matter how nice a cup of tea it makes. Is this normal?|
Hi there, mister husband here. Here is a classic example of a bulbous kettle Although you can see the water boiling, which is nice, the kettle is still very bulbous. Bulbosity is worsened by opaque, often garish greenish sides.
Googling for this I notice there are a lot of kettles about which are triangular, which is also bad. Some are both bulbous and triangular.
When we bought our last kettle, we were able to find only 1 kettle in some 7 or so shops that was not either a) bulbous or b) triangular, or c) otherwise overdesigned. And even this is IMO a bit flash. Also our first one electrocuted me because water kept leaking into the handle, but that is by the by.
My parents recently bought which is neither bulbous nor flash. I wish it were mine.
I think my wife just wanted to tell someone she thought I was weird, but I would like to propose a poll:
I am not sure if there is any technical merit in bulbous or triangular kettles (maybe they boil faster). When I ask google "is a triangular kettle better" I get "The Beaver Fur Hat" & "Corn Chip Review". I'd be interested to hear if there is any engineering reason for bulbosity, but it will not induce me to buy one.
|Nicey replies: Sarah,
Please pass along to your husband our compliments on some excellent kettle links, and for his efforts with Google and the splendid poll idea.
I have recently moved jobs and am in somewhat of a dilemma. My new office has most inadequate tea making facilities. They provide PG Tips, whilst not my favourite, makes a decent brew. Instead of a kettle there is a boiler and worst of all there are no mugs or cups. Everybody uses little plastic cup that are fine for water, but donít work for tea. I like a fine bone china mug with a white inside by preference, but any old mug will do in a storm. I tried hard to get used to it, but after a week of drinking very average tea I have given up and now use the Cafť Nero across the road who do an excellent black coffee.
I am only here for a short time so I donít want to ruffle any feathers by supplying a kettle and bringing my own mug. There is a danger that my new colleagues will think I am looking down my nose at them.
Perhaps you could point me in the right direction before I become a hardened coffee drinker.
Many thanks in advance.
|Nicey replies: Mark,
Not only are little plastic cups bad for the environment but they can also lead to tea spillage, and bring that unwelcome fragrance of injection moulded Polyethylene Terephthalate to your tea. I would make a stand, point out that their tea is not up to scratch and if you upset anyone it's OK because you'll be out of there soon. I would be surprised if a few people didn't rally to your cause.
Ellen from North Carolina was kind enough to reply to my mild whinge about the absence of kettles in the USA, a topic which I note from your archives has been the subject of heated debate. From my quite extensive researches on two trips in the last year to ten proper cities in the US (i.e. big ones), I found not a single kettle. I did however find urns with spitting taps, coffee-makers substituting as tea-makers, vacuum flasks marked 'hot water' for which you needed an IQ of over 140 to open, plus the seemingly ubiquitous microwave. In fact, I suffered a quite nasty experience in one beautifully appointed house where I opened the microwave and was confronted with an encrusted and seemingly toxic ecosystem. I urge travellers to beware. This is not for the faint-hearted and you must not be complacent.
With kind regards
PS Tip : Betty's in York were giving away packets of Yorkshire Tea yesterday! I got one for the price of a macaroon.
|Nicey replies: I'm very fond of a macaroon now and again.
||Hi there Nicey|
Just leafing throught the Things which used to be on NCOTAASD section when I spotted the Tefal Delphina Kettle - EXACTLY the same model as I have (but in white with a vinyl lid) - and I thought I had to write a quick note to extol the virtues of this water boiling device - yes I grant you it's a bit noisy but goodness does it boil water to withtin an inch of it's life - at the speed of light! - I can't see any experimental circuitry or technology in this kettle - it just boils SO quick - luvly when you REALLY deserve a 'quick cuppa' (unlike most kettles that seem to sense the desperate tea preparation of someone who REALLY needs a cuppa - and then almost torment you with the slowness they suddenly work at!)
That's it really - nice kettle (looks pretty classy in the 'Royal Blue' there) - will keep you informed of any rapid changes in water-boiling abilities
|Nicey replies: Actually the NCOTAASD HQ kettle is also a Tefal Delphina in white, but much quieter than the blue one we showed. By all means keep us informed on your ability to boil water, we like to keep up current affairs|