Monday, January 6, 2014

We Talked About Tea ... but What About the Kettle?

The Climate Crusader realizes that plastic is everywhere.

In early December I wrote about the concerns with many conventional teas, in Tea You Can Feel Good About. I suggested buying organic, loose-leaf teas, and brewing them in glass or stainless steel. However, just this evening, as I put some water on to boil it occurred to me that while I'm using a glass and stainless steal teapot, my electric kettle is made of some type of hard plastic.

If we don't want to brew tea in plastic, do we really want to boil water in plastic? Probably not. When plastic is heated, it's more likely to leach potentially harmful chemicals. That's not exactly tasty.

Of course, I could get myself a stainless steel stovetop kettle, like my mom used when I was a kid. However, there are downsides to that as well. The biggest one is probably the amount of energy used. Electric kettles are actually very energy efficient - typically 90% or higher. I remember testing one in high school physics, and it came out at 93% efficiency. Heating water on my electric range is considerably less efficient.

There are glass and stainless steel electric kettles available. Unfortunately, many of the stainless steel kettles still contain plastic windows so that you can see the water level. As well, these options are considerably more expensive. I drink a lot of tea, though, so investing in a kettle I feel good about makes sense to me. I just want to be sure that I'm spending my money wisely.

This is why I'm turning my questions back to you, now - how do you boil water for tea? When you choose a kettle, do you look for safe materials, energy efficiency, price, or something else altogether? I want a cup of tea I really can feel good about, and I need your help!


sustainablemum said...

I have a metal stove top kettle and am lucky enough to have gas.

My husband did a test between and electric kettle and our stove top kettle and the stove top uses less power and is much cheaper to run than the electric kettle which we have consigned to the loft!

Marilin said...

There are actually electric kettles made out of porcelain, at least I've seen them for sale here in Europe. Right now (because I have a tiiiiny kitchen and no room for more appliances) I'm using just a stainless steel pot over my gas stovetop. Not really energy efficient, I know. I don't know if the porcelain ones are really plastic free, but they don't seem to have any visible plastic parts (apart from the on/off switch and cord cover) at least.

robbie @ going green mama said...

We have a stovetop kettle. Love it!

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

We don't drink tea often but have a stainless steel stovetop one (purchased at Target or Bed Bath Beyond?) for when we need boiling water for herbal tea or clearing drains.

I guess the lowest impact choice would be to find a non-plastic one (steel or ceramic) second-hand. Maybe you could find one on Craig's List/ Freecycle/ thrifting?

Christy said...

When I was drinking coffee it bugged me that I was brewing in a plastic machine.For some reason I never occurred to me that I'm boiling my water in a plastic kettle. Duh!

I will be following the commented suggestions on this post.

sara tea lovers said...

hi, the kettles is more healthy than plastic,
in my house we don't drink green tea if it not prepared with the kittle,
i see a lot of info. in this article really is helpful


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