Tea Kettle

Last week I was talking about thorium and nuclear reactors and mentioned tea kettles in passing.  Seems like that drew a lot of interest. Okay, two people commented on it …

I should mention that I drink tea – a lot of tea, well, four cups per day most days.  There’s tea when I first get up, the mid-morning tea break, four o’clock tea and herb tea after dinner.  Three of the four cups are black tea and the fourth is an herb tea.

Personally I blame church for my taste for tea.  There is the odd little tradition in many churches: coffee hour.  It doesn’t last for an hour – it just feels like an hour.  The idea is that after the last hymn you head over to the fellowship hall for coffee and conversation. 

When I was about 15 I thought I’d have a cup of coffee like the adults.  It was horrible.  The next week I tried a cup of tea and liked it. 

Years, decades, later I discovered that all church coffee taste horrible and likely if my first had been from somewhere else, I might be a dedicated coffee drinker today. 

But now at home I have a tea kettle, tea pot, and I think 20 boxes of black tea with maybe about 10 or so boxes of various herb tea blends.  In this house we drink Tetley tea (British blend).  Heather and I both drink tea and we can drink five cups of tea a day so on box of Tetley with 80 bags will only last 16 days so we’re always on the look out for a good tea sale when shopping.  A couple of weeks ago the store had a two boxes for five dollars sale and we stocked up.

Now, we need to make sure you understand that there is a difference between a tea kettle and a tea pot.  I know some of you are saying, “Well, that’s obvious,” but not everyone really appreciates the difference here.  The kettle is the thing that heats the water and the pot is where water and tea brew to make that wondrous drink.  Then you can pour milk followed by the tea into a mug or cup.

There is a difference between mugs and cups, but I’m not going to explain that.

Yes, I put milk into the cup first and then the tea.  If you do it differently, you’re wrong.

I should point out at this point that the word, “tea” refers to both the dry substance in the bags and the liquid that comes out of a tea pot.  Coffee and tea share this characteristic – the word referring to both the dry stuff and the drink. After that things really change – coffee has more caffeine than tea, you don’t have coffee bags and you pour the coffee first and then add the milk or half and half or whiskey.

I’ve never herd of Irish tea, but somewhere, someone has slipped a little whiskey into a mug of tea.

I should mention at this point that tea is good for everything.  Have a cold? Tummy upset? Can’t sleep? Stubbed your toe in the dark? Hit your head on the cupboard door? No problem, just brew a nice cup of tea and everything will be better.  Tea has many health benefits and I think widely underused.  Its curative properties are endless and many more people should be using it.

Which brings us back to tea kettles.  Oh sure you could heat water in a pan or in a microwave, but the proper way is to use a kettle.  The older kettles are be placed on a stove to boil.  Those are nice because when the water is ready, the kettle whistles to let you know it’s time to brew the tea.

In the past this might have been referred to the kettle, “singing.” These days when I think of a kettle singing, it’s a Disney movie or the Tea Room, “The Kettle Sings” that my bother-in-law took me to once on a visit to England.

I should also mention that in some usages, “tea” actually refers to a meal, but I digress.

The problem with stove top tea kettle is that I forget I’ve turned on the stove and with my slight hearing loss, I often don’t hear it singing, but do finally smell it burning when all the water has boiled away.  Then there is the smoke detectors screaming and explaining why I burnt another one.

So these days we just use an electric kettle that has a built in thermostat that turns the thing off when it gets hot.  They’re really nice and boil enough water in a couple of minutes.  There is some steam that escapes out the spout when it boils and I suppose you could use that steam to turn an electric turbine.  The problem here is that you’ll need electricity to create electricity and the whole thermodynamic equation thing breaks down.  In the end it doesn’t work, yielding neither electricity or tea.

Which brings me back to last week’s post on reactors and tea kettles.  While a tea kettle is a powerful thing, a nuclear reactor still creates more steam and doesn’t need electricity to make steam.  I don’t know if reactor operators make tea from nuclear hot water, but on the surface that seems like a bad idea – you know all those gamma rays and things.

But I did want to note the similarity between a stove top tea kettle and a nuclear reactor: Let them boil dry and there are alarms, smells, and a lot of awkward questions to answer.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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44 Responses to Tea Kettle

  1. thegirlthepenthelife says:

    Tea is a very serious business indeed 🥸

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed your post. I have to say though, my daughter went to University in Ireland. She said you ALWAYS put the milk in AFTER, never before. If you put it in after YOU can DECIDE how much milk you want to add to the tea. If you put it in BEFORE, there is no turning back if you put too much milk in. After 5 years in Ireland, she said, “Every house has a tea kettle.” Like you, they drink a lot of tea. I just wrote a post on tea kettles too. GREAT minds think alike. Stop by, I have a photo of A LOT of tea kettles – Home Goods store! LOL Oh, I’m a big Tetley fan too, but I do have Barry’s (always used in Ireland my daughter says) Decaf. I haven’t found Tetley in Decaf. What decaf do you drink? Thanks again for making me SMILE! I have a small tea pot, and tea cup/saucer, etc. I use it every day. I”m Italian, I do make an espresso with the Bialetti in the morning, but enjoy tea later in day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You must be part British. And I cannot BELIEVE I’ve been making my tea wrong all this time. Milk first, milk first, milk first–got it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. G. J. Jolly says:

    Is herbal tea really a tea, or is it called that because of the way it’s prepared? My mother, who turned 96 last month, tells me herbal tea isn’t really a tea because it lacks caffeine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a very deep rabbit hole. 😉 By definition, tea is an infusion made by soaking the leaves, flowers or other parts of plant in water to make a beverage or medicine. Commonly, tea is made from the camellia sinensis plant. This makes the common, black, green and white teas. Technically, coffee, in beverage form, is a kind of tea.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, Andrew. I drink coffee in the morning and then switch to tea for the rest of the day. I love tea. I love certain flavours better than others. About two years ago I ‘discovered’ a brand called “Harney & Sons” and I find their teas to be the best I have experienced. I purchased a sample pack of several flavors on Amazon.ca here, as each teabag came in a foil package and I like to tuck a little piece of chocolate and a tea bag in each customer’s order for a ‘treat’ for them. The foil-wrapped tea is great for this. Long story short, I sampled some of the flavors myself and since then have ordered many of their loose teas in tins or even 1lb bags. They are fabulous. Being an artist, I like the packaging of the Celeste teas, but I found the flavor to be lacking – especially in the herbal varieties. The Harney teas are flavorful whether they are caffeinated or not. I recommend you to try them. 🙂
    Like you, I like the decaf in the evening. I look forward to tea with a cookie every afternoon for a pick me up. And yes – I have both a beautiful glass teapot and a lovely, whistling kettle which I got just before Christmas. I also forget the water is on. 😉
    I could go on and on about tea. While that first cup of coffee is good in the morning, it is tea for the rest of the day for me. Hot or cold, it is a favorite. 🙂 (I like the Tetley, too. They are foil wrapped and make nice ‘treats’ for my customers as well. 😉 ) Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll have to look up “Harney & Sons”. We did find a local tea shop that has great, and expensive teas that we really like. We also have afternoon tea with a “biscuit” or two.


  6. Dave says:

    I never thought of coffee and tea entering the “divide” conversation but it does seem to me drinkers have a strong preference for one or the other. Having said that, my wife likes both. She went through a Tetley phase when she had a close British friend years ago, but I think it’s a little pricey? Now she seems to gravitate towards Celestial Seasonings (which is like favoring Coors beer if you’re from Colorado). Amateur tea-drinker that I am- coffee’s more my thing – I’ve never understood the proper method of steeping. How do you know when it’s “tea”, or is it simply personal preference?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tetley can be pricey and the reason we’re always looking for a good sale. You can brew tea as long or as short as you want. It’s personal preference. Shorter and you get weak tea while brewing makes stronger and a little more bitter. I like it somewhere in the middle.


  7. Lakshmi Bhat says:

    That was interesting 🙂 We drink a glass of filter coffee in the morning and a glass of tea in the evening. Many drink milkless and sugarless tea if they are suffering from stomach upset.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Andrew, I have a dilemma…when in our caravan and on mains power I boil the cup of water in the microwave…yes I know it is sacrilege but practical. The tea is barely passable. When we’re free camping and running on gas I boil and old whistling kettle on the gas stove. The tea is good. But when we’re running on gas and eating outside I boil the whistling kettle on the outside gas stove, the tea is elevated to another level, it’s heavenly. Now, is this because of the smell of the eucalyptus in the air or are we camped too close to a nuclear reactor?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love my tea, too; but I buy loose-leaf tea whenever I can. The price is probably about the same, but the storage is much more compact. This is a good thing when you keep about 16 kinds of tea on hand (and that’s just the green and herbal teas). There’s a separate drawer for the 16 kinds of black tea. No, I don’t have an addiction; why do you ask? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • For black tea, I stick to the bags, but we do buy a number of herbal teas in loos-leaf from a local tea shop. Strange, but one of the best tea shops I’ve found is out here in the middle of the desert. weird.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. From one tea drinker to another, I’m certainly glad you straightened everyone out about tea, kettles, and pots. My parents liked coffee, but Mom also drank tea (Dad never could stand it), and she introduced it, with lots of milk and sugar, to me when I was a youngster. I’ve never been able to drink coffee – YUCK – but I do kind of like its aroma. Anyway, I still use a teakettle that whistles to me on the stove every morning. I have a bunch of teapots decorating the top of our kitchen cabinets, but I rarely use them. Loose tea works well in a tea ball in my mug. I’m a straight shooter though, haven’t used sugar or milk in my tea for the last 30 years or so. At night, I must drink herbal or decaf or I can’t sleep. I really haven’t met a tea that I didn’t like, but I definitely agree with you about those gamma rays from nuclear reactor tea water. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • I do like somethings that are coffee flavored, like candies or ice cream, but mostly I prefer a good cup of tea. We have a good collection of tea pots, but since we moved most are still in the cabinet. and yeah, gamma rays can spoil a good cup of tea and ruin your whole day.


  11. Thank goodness you explained that, Andrew. I worried all week about it.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Baydreamer says:

    I enjoyed your humor, Andrew, in this interesting post about tea kettles. 🙂 Well done!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. My tea kettle on the stove sang and I made my first mug of tea before reading your post this morning. Alas, I have never used a tea pot here at home. Perhaps it is something I should aspire to.
    Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. FranknBean says:

    Church Coffee tastes bad? I noticed as a child the water in the church house always tasted bad. Thus the coffee will taste bad. Why not the tea tasting bad?

    Church water theory:
    A large building has long runs of pluming pipe. The water sits in the line for days of the week not running much or at all (think small congregations). The water in the pipe gets stale, maybe picking up a metallic taste.

    Before making up the coffee percolator on Sunday morning run the water from the faucet for 5 minutes so the pipe will be flushed out. Alternatively use a water filtration system of some type for making coffee.

    But your tea tastes good. Hmmm, likely because the tea is just better than coffee regardless of water sourcing. Trying to change us coffee-holics? It seems like the coffee time lasts an hour because the caffeine helps us speak an hours worth of conversation in thirty minutes of time.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Ray V. says:

    At least you are getting more comments😊. I was 47 miles away from Three Mile Island when the operator was probably drinking tea and relaxing. There were some awkward answers, I’m sure

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I can’t believe I read this whole thing and am so thankful I did! What a great way to start the week!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Your tea post has reminded me of how i can’t jump in Church because my Sunday School teacher never really jumped , we figured maturity is not jumping and now i don’t know how to unlearn that 🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 2 people

  18. jfwknifton says:

    Next stop, the Nevada Tea Ceremony ! There’s a huge difference between a mug and a cup, mainly of size I suppose. A similar tea to Tetley is called “Yorkshire Tea” and it’s what my wife drinks, in some quantity really.

    Liked by 3 people

    • A friend of ours once brought us a box of “Yorkshire Tea” after a trip to The Forest of Dean. It was nice, but they don’t sell it out here in Nevada so we get Tetley.


  19. Pied Type says:

    Coffee for me. Just a cup, er mug, in the morning. I like iced tea with meals. Rarely hot tea, and then only herbals . Accidentally got hold of green tea one time and swore never again. Tasted like grass.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. HI Andrew, I am also a tea drinker and drink about 5 cups a day too. I don’t like coffee much although I do drink the odd cup. I enjoyed your post, very interesting and mildly amusing too.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I really want to hear your explanation about the difference between a Mug and a Cup because this was quite interesting.

    Liked by 3 people

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