Monday, July 29, 2013

GUEST POST: Here Is My Handle, Here Is My Spout

Dripping tea kettles and burnt hands. Blecch. Please join me in welcoming Samantha Joyce of Seattle Coffee Gear, who has joined us to share some thoughts on this pernicious subject. Samantha makes the case for Bonavita's electric teakettle, with its well-thought-out spout that might just help solve the problem. Please continue the conversation with us below in the comments section. --Steven

Here Is My Handle, Here Is My Spout

While many tea drinkers select a teakettle based on aesthetics and capacity, they overlook the two most important variables immortalized in song. Yes! The handle and the spout have more influence on the functionality of a kettle than anything else.

For many years I used a heavy enameled steel teakettle that I received as a wedding present. This year I upgraded my tea preparation and invested in a digital variable-temperature gooseneck kettle. From kyusu to gaiwan to tea ball, all tea prep benefits from a careful temperature-controlled pour.

Just the Facts Ma’am

To convince folks that already have a serviceable kettle, I have two words for you: fluid dynamics! Science, safety, and precision brewing are all reasons technological advances trump tradition:

Pour spout tips vary, even amongst gooseneck kettles. Generally speaking, the thinner the material at the lip of the spout, the less likely it will dribble. Stainless steel kettles have the advantage of being sturdy, lightweight and easily manufactured to avoid the teapot effect. The size of the spout opening also contributes to flow rate and control.

Some users of the iconic Hario Buono kettle install a flow reducer at the tip. This makes aiming it easier. Roger Whittman, Bonavita Brand Manager, told me they “rotated the spout forward to give better flow control” and made a smaller angled aperture for their models.

The shape of the gooseneck spout combined with a well-balanced handle provides amazing control over direction. It is one thing to dribble on the countertop, it is quite another to spill boiling water on your wrist as you reach to stabilize your tea infuser.

Another potential for injury occurs during lid removal. “We added adjustment tabs on the lid so the user can easily control how much force it takes to remove and insert the lid,” Whittmann explained of Bonavita kettles.

Just Right
White tea, black tea, and green tea all have different temperature requirements from 160F212F. Take the guesswork out of steeping a proper cup. Sure, you could use a measuring cup and a pocket thermometer, but the set-it-and-forget-it ease of a digital model is hard to beat. Set your temperature exactly, and it will heat and hold without the risk of spills or steam burns.

Out With the Old

”It’s the little things in life,” such is the case of a quality kettle. A variable-temperature, gooseneck kettle heats up faster, sits without a trivet, and waters hard-to-reach plants on my windowsill. Now that I know the novel hydro-capillary adhesion phenomenon, I can go with the flow! I might never dribble again.

+Samantha Joyce is a writer for Seattle Coffee Gear and enjoys sharing her knowledge of all things coffee (and tea!)


Anonymous said...

I can't believe I waited so long to get a gooseneck kettle! Are there other tips and tricks anyone would like to share that make their tea prep easier? Seattle Coffee Gear welcomes questions and looks forward to your comments.