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What are the Safest Materials for Tea Kettles & Tea Pots?

From types of teapots to making your tea time count.



Enjoying an aromatic brew of spicy chai or chilled iced tea is the perfect way to unwind -- or start your day. Drinking tea improves digestion, boosts the immune system and elevates your mood. Nevertheless, toxic chemicals lingering inside your tea kettle could harm your health. The most fitting way to enjoy your refreshing tea is with the assurance that you’re using the safest material for tea kettles and your tea set, in your kitchen. 



Traditional Japanese ceramic stoneware teapot and teacup with saucer, serving bowl and dinner plate



First things first... ingredients for making the perfect cup of tea


Green tea, black tea, herbal tea, chai tea... there's a lot of different kinds of tea and that's just a few of many. Then there's hot tea vs cold tea, and sweetened vs unsweetened. Plus, the majority of tea varietals have specific brewing instructions. Point being, there is no catch-all way to making tea, but one thing that remains the same -- tea requires brewing, and for most types of tea the use of a kettle to produce hot water is essential.



organic tea set accessories



Why is Your Tea Kettle Material Important?


Whether you use an electric tea kettle or an old-fashioned stovetop kettle to boil your water, it’s important to use the safest material for tea kettles. Studies show that tea kettles and teapots made from materials which leach toxins, including those made from some metals, aluminum or plastic, can lead to a variety of health issues over time. The best material for tea kettles are free from leaching and toxic chemicals. 



What’s the Difference Between a Tea Kettle & Tea Pot?


Tea kettles are used to boil water for your tea, hot chocolate or other hot beverages. They can be used on electric, induction or gas stoves. Some tea kettles release a whistling noise or beeping noise to signal that your water has reached the desired temperature. Other types of tea kettles include electric tea kettles which boil your water much faster and automatically switch off. Once you have your hot water, it's time to use your teapot.


Teapots come in a range of stunning designs and are used for steeping tea leaves to make brewed tea. Think of tea pots as a part of your tabletop ensemble. (They aren’t made to heat water directly.) The healthiest materials used for teapots are glass and ceramics like porcelain and stoneware. 



What Happens to Your Tea Kettle When You’re Boiling Liquid?


The process of boiling water may look harmless on the outside. However, if you're not careful, the mixture of heat with the materials used on the inside of your kettle may contain harmful chemicals. For starters, here's some unwanted materials to look out for:


avoid kettles with toxic heavy metals
avoid copper + nickel kettles

  • Bisphenol A (BPA): BPA can be found in the plastic on your tea kettle. These are the same harmful plastics that leach from ordinary water bottles and the lining found in most canned foods. They’re associated with hormone imbalances and developmental problems in young children. Even BPA-free plastic carries similar health impacts, like BPS and BPF. 


  • Teflon (PTFE): Teflon is used in non-stick coatings. When heated, Teflon can release toxic fumes which cause polymer fume fever. Short term symptoms are tightness in your chest, dry coughing, chills and joint pains. High exposure to PTFE fumes can lead to high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and decreased vaccine response in children. 


  • PFOA: Short for perfluorooctanoic acid, this harmful pollutant is on the EPA’s radar. In 2022, the EPA set PFOA safety levels at 0.004 ppt (parts per trillion) in drinking water. Severe exposure can lead to liver damage, thyroid disease and kidney cancer. 


  • PFAs: PFAs refer to a family of hazardous chemicals. According to the CDC, health problems include liver damage, a weaker immune system and reproductive issues. 


  • Lead + Heavy Metals: If the glaze on your ceramic teapot or tea kettle contains lead, this may leach into your water over time. Lead is a toxic metal which can lead to memory loss, kidney failure and a host of other issues. 



When you boil water, if any chemicals are present, they seep into your water at a faster rate. Studies have shown that aluminum, copper, plastic, and some cast iron kettles carry toxins and heavy metals which will react under very high temperatures. The safest material for tea kettles is nontoxic and free from BPA, PTFE, PFAs and heavy metals. So what materials are safe for making tea? Read on... as we got you covered in the next section.





What are the Safest Materials for Tea Kettles & Pots?


We've discussed what isn't safe in terms of tea kettles and tea sets, so let's shift focus now to what to look for in a tea set. There's several types.



Let's start with the healthiest type of tea kettle:


glass tea kettle
flowers literally bloom as they steep

...Glass Tea Kettles are Safe + Sustainable 


Glass may seem delicate, but is one of the healthiest materials for dishware, including a non toxic tea kettles. Glass teapots create stunning visuals with artisanal flowering teas which literally unfurl and bloom before your eyes as your tea steepens. 


Advantages of Glass Tea Kettles

Modern and minimalist glass tea kettles are safe and nontoxic due to their nonporous qualities, so they won’t react with substances at very high temperatures or leach harmful chemicals into your water. In particular, borosilicate glass is the safest material for tea kettles when compared to soda lime or tempered glass. It's durable, dishwasher safe and can withstand high temperatures without cracking or shattering. 


As if we didn't have enough cool things to say about glass, did you know that glass is also infinitely recyclable? Other recyclable materials like plastic and metal degrade over time and are limited in the amount of times they may be melted down. Glass is nontoxic and forever recyclable!


Disadvantages of Glass Tea Kettles

The main drawback with glass tea kettles is that you need to take care of them to avoid scratches and chipping over time. Glass is susceptible to cracking if placed in the dishwasher next to other dishes and can build up staining over time. (more on stain removal tips and tea pot maintenance in a minute). Moreover, glass tea kettles can become very hot to the touch, so invest in one with an ergonomic handle to avoid burns. The best material for tea kettle handles are heat resistant like wood or cork. 



...Stainless Steel Kettles are Durable + Non Toxic


organic tea leaves

When it comes to metal options, stainless steel is among the safest material for tea kettles to warm your water. You’ll find distinctive designs inspired by the Art Deco era or timeless vintage looks.


Advantages of Stainless Steel Tea Kettles

Stainless steel tea kettles are highly durable and are suitable for gas, induction and electric stove tops. They won’t leach heavy metals into your water and are often more lightweight and affordable. Most come with vacuum insulation technology (similar to Yeti cups) which makes stainless steel the best material for tea kettles if you need to keep your water hot for long periods of time. 


Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Tea Kettles

Choose high quality stainless steel containing a chromium-to-nickel ratio of 18/8 or 18/10, which means they’re certified as food safe. You’ll find this information on any packaging labels or you can check on the manufacturer’s website. The type of tea kettle that won’t rust may also be labeled as 304 or 316. Always avoid 201 grade stainless steel which is prone to rust. 


Tea brewing tip: Never brew your tea in a stainless steel tea pot. It'll end up tasting metallic and you may risk leaching heavy metals from the stainless steel alloy, like nickel, into the water. While iron tea kettles are fabulous for heating water on a stovetop or over the fire, the same applies. Remember to transfer the hot water to a glass or ceramic vessel for brewing tea.



...Ceramic Tea Kettles + Tea Pots are Stunning


porcelain teapot
porcelain + stoneware are popular ceramics

Ceramic is among the best material for tea pots and tea kettles, which can make for a beautiful and timeless additions to your kitchen. From rustic stoneware teapots to elegant porcelain, ceramic tea kettles are made from eco friendly, natural materials and are free from toxins. 


Advantages of Ceramic Tea Kettles

Ceramic tea kettles are made from natural materials and free from BPA, PFAs, non stick coatings and heavy metals. Depending on the make and model, you can use some on your stovetop, inside your oven, on top of your BBQ and in your freezer. They’re completely rust free and scratch resistant, stain proof and dishwasher safe which makes ceramic the best material for tea kettle maintenance. 


Disadvantages of Ceramic Tea Kettles

Some cheaper, off brand, ceramic tea kettles may have thin glazes which may contain lead or cadmium, or the pot itself may contain heavy metals. If the glaze is damaged in any way, these metals lead can seep into your water, so it's always best to source your ceramic tea kettles from a trusted, quality brand. The safest material for tea kettles (and the glazes) should be tested to be lead and cadmium free ceramic tea kettles.


Did you know? 
In ancient times, kettles similar to today’s modern designs were made from bronze and iron to boil water. Archaeologists found a bronze kettle in Mesopotamia dating back to the year 3000 BC.



Our Top Pick for the Best Material for Tea Kettles


best material for tea kettle

If you're searching for the best type of tea kettle or tea set material, whether as a thoughtful gift or your own tea drinking enjoyment, you now know there's quite a few safe options! Each of these healthy materials for tea kettles have their pros and cons.


Keeping in mind that the safest material for tea kettles should be non reactive, non leaching and the type of tea kettle that won’t rust.



...So what's the best material for a tea kettle + tea pot? 


Our top pick for the safest material for tea kettles is a tie between ceramic and glass. In fact the two are very similar in the nontoxic and natural materials and minerals that they are made out of.


Ceramics come in the form of porcelain, stoneware or you guessed it, ceramic... So long as your tea set is made by a brand that you trust, you can rest easy knowing these two materials can withstand high temperatures, are rust resistant, and do not leach toxic chemicals into your hot water. Both ceramics and glass ensure that each cup of tea has a fresh and clean taste.



Our top 5 tips for maintaining your teapot:


It’s important to maintain your tea sets. Whether they're glass tea kettles or stoneware tea pots, regular cleaning will help to avoid mineral build up and spot limescale which comes from the natural minerals found in water.


  1. Check your care instructions. Your care instructions include important details like if your kettles and tea pots are dishwasher safe. They’ll also specify if other components to your set like tea cups, can go into the dishwasher. If your set has cork or wooden accessories, these are not dishwasher safe and should be cleaned separately by hand. 

  2. Use warm water + a powder cleaner. Rinse your glass tea kettle with warm water as very hot water can cause chips or cracks to appear. Even if your borosilicate glass kettle can withstand sudden changes in temperature, it’s still not a great idea to put a very hot kettle into a cool body of water or fridge straight away. For stubborn tea stains, using a non scratch and nontoxic powder cleaner, like Bon Ami or baking soda, can help to remove stubborn tea stains on glass and ceramics, with just a little elbow grease.

  3. Don't use abrasive sponges. Use a soft sponge or scrub sponge made from natural materials (not metal) to gently clean the inside and outside of a ceramic or glass tea kettle. Abrasive or steel sponges can damage even the best material for tea pots.

  4. Avoid boiling the kettle dry. Your tea kettles should always be used with a sufficient amount of water each time. Whether you're using a stovetop or plug in electric kettle, take care to not boil your kettle dry which can lead to damage. 

  5. Periodically descale the kettle. If you’ve got stubborn stains and chalky buildup, this mineral scale is easy to clean with 1:1 water and white vinegar. Make sure your electric kettle is unplugged and no electrical components are submerged in water as you rinse. 



Japanese tea set



How to Shop for Sustainable Tea Set Accessories & Healthy Ingredients


We've armed you with a lot of info about the best materials for your tea time! But we would be amiss if we didn't mention that looking for sustainably sourced tea accessories, like loose leaf tea and organic sweeteners, are just as important.


For tea bags, look for papers and strings that are made from plant-based materials. Unbleached tea bags and natural twine are pretty easy to identify. Sadly some organic tea makers are packaging their organic tea in plastic tea bags, which is mind blowing to us. Why would someone want a side of heated microplastics mixed into their hot cup of organic tea?



Organic sugar, agave, local honey or xylitol are fabulous and healthy options for sweetening your tea or beverage of choice.


Since water is the main ingredient in tea, be sure to use filtered water for brewing. An even better choice is spring water. If your spring water is from a clean source and is transported in glass containers, you've got the best water nature has to offer.


Storing your organic loose leaf tea in sealed glass containers is preferred to keep the tea leaves fresh and dry. Dried herbal teas make for beautiful countertop displays in stunning glass canisters and jars.


If you have food sensitivities, here's a few things to consider when choosing your tea... The first one is rather obvious - if you have dairy allergies, opt for plant-based milks like soy/coconut/oat for your chai latte.


Other less obvious ones are those with herbal or pepper allergies. Many teas, including chai, have various plant ingredients. If you're trying to stay away from oxalates, (an inflammatory substance found in some plant foods), avoid drinking hot beverages with ground up plant material mixed into the liquid, such as matcha green tea or instant coffee.


Now let's move on to some more kitchen chemistry!



The Best Options for Heating Water


If your primary goal is to boil water for making tea, you may want to invest in a small stovetop tea kettle. But for those of us who like infusion teas, a matching glass teapot with ceramic infuser would be ideal. Specialty teas are best enjoyed at temperatures ranging from 150 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling temp). This is where electric tea kettles shine, as they can be set to heat your water up to a specified temperature to extract the best flavors.


gooseneck tea kettles
gooseneck tea kettles are perfect for pour-overs

What Type of Tea Kettle Is Best for Making Coffee?


Sometimes, tea accessories have a higher calling beyond just making tea. Let's explore what else these versatile vessels can do.


If you’re someone who enjoys coffee then a gooseneck tea kettle would be a great choice. They come with an elongated, narrow spout which allows for more precision and works best for pour-over coffees. 


On the other hand, if you want to boil large amounts of water quickly for cooking veggies, beans or soups, the best type of tea kettle would be one with a large base, whether it be electric or stovetop.


ceramic teapot set with matching tea cups

Types of Tea Kettles 


Gas, electric and induction stoves require different types of tea kettles 


If you’re a fan of stove top tea kettles, then most gas or electric stoves will work for you. However, induction tops require magnetic cookware to heat up. This would make stainless steel the best material for tea kettles on induction style tops. 


Electric stove tops with glass can get scratched easily with heavy tea kettles like cast iron, so you’d want to go with lighter tea kettles. Whereas, large gas stoves can bear the weight of heavier ceramic tea kettles. 


When purchasing a stove top tea kettle, it’s important to consider the size of your burners. That way, the handle won’t hang over your main heat source and overheat. 



Safest Type of Tea Kettle in a Family Setting


If you have young children and pets at home then safety around hot items in the kitchen is crucial 


Picture this: boiling a large glass tea kettle on a gas stove top with kids and pets running around. Yes, that does sound like a disaster waiting to happen. 



The safest type of tea kettle is well suited to your home environment as well as your health. Electric tea kettles come with auto shut off switches so your kettle turns off automatically once it’s reached your desired temperature. A bonus is that they often come with boil dry protection to help your kettle last longer. 


Look for tea kettles with ergonomic or “anti scald” handles to make for easy pouring hot water into your tea pot or tea cups. The best material for tea kettle handles and lids are heat safe such as cork, wood or bamboo which protect your hands. They also provide a secure, non slip and comfortable grip. 



 

healthy homemade iced tea
double your tea for iced tea

Top Tips for the Perfect Iced Tea 

  • Natural sweeteners like honey, pure maple syrup, xylitol, stevia, or agave syrup make for healthy homemade iced tea. 

  • Use filtered water to remove any unwanted minerals 

  • Steep your tea bags or loose tea leaves for 10 mins or less

  • Add your sugar or sweetener while your tea is still hot

  • Remember to double the amount of tea bags or loose leaf

  • *Skip the sun tea, which can cultivate harmful bacteria during the low heat process (yes, bummer for those of us with fond memories of drinking sun tea as a kid)



 

In a Nutshell:

the safest materials for tea kettles & pots


We know that it can be difficult and time consuming to research the safest material for tea kettles and pots. So if you're interested in the cliffs notes, here's a quick round of Q&A to help summarize this post.



What is the least toxic way to heat water?


The least toxic way to heat water is to use a tea kettle made from safe materials like glass, stainless steel and ceramics.  These materials are non leaching, free from harmful toxins and resistant to bacterial buildup. 


What is the safest teapot material?


The safest teapot material is free from lead, cadmium, PFAs, non stick coatings and PFOAs. Ceramics like stoneware and porcelain, as well as glass, are the safest material for tea kettles and teapots. This is due to their nonporous nature and the fact that they won’t leach hazardous pollutants into your tea even after being heated.


Which is better, aluminum or stainless steel kettles?


Aluminum tea kettles may be faster at heating up water than stainless steel, and more scratch resistant and lighter. However, aluminum is questionable when it comes to reactivity, especially with slightly acidic water and/or the addition of heat -- which can lead to the metal leaching. For these reasons, we don't recommend aluminum. On the other hand, stainless steel is a better material for tea kettles amongst the metals because it's heavier, more durable and much less reactive. 


Do plastic kettles leach chemicals?


Yes, plastic kettles leach toxic chemicals like BPA and phthalates into your water which can have negative impacts on your health including obesity, diabetes and infertility. In summary, avoid plastics for drinkware and tea, and especially for hot tea and coffee.


Does boiling water in a kettle make it safe?


We’re all aware that boiling water is a great method to kill germs and bacteria. However, simply boiling water in a kettle doesn’t automatically make it safe. Kettles made out of plastic, nickel, copper and some cast iron with exposed heating elements can leach heavy metals into the water. Switching to a sustainably sourced and non toxic tea kettle like ceramic, stainless steel, or stoneware ensures your water is safe to drink.




Did you know? 
Tea time may be celebrated up to 3x a day in Sweden... Morning tea at 11am is called elevenses -- which is a morning break with tea and a light snack. Afternoon tea is typically served around 3pm with fancy tea cups. And high tea is taken after work with tasty bites like meats and appetizers. 

 

We’ve curated a small collection of our favorite nontoxic tea sets, including the healthiest teapots, tea cups and coffee mugs made from safe and eco friendly materials. Healthier Homes is committed to safe, nontoxic drinkware -- because sharing an epic tea time with friends and family is time well spent :)


Cheers,

HH




If you have any questions about the healthiest tea kettles & pots for your kitchen, feel free to leave a comment below!


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