If you felt just fine with your standard kettle, this article might make you think again. The ones in this roundup are designed to get the water to the exact temperature to suit your drink of choice, whether that’s tea or coffee.
Not convinced? Ask any tea expert what they think about using boiling water to make green or white tea and watch them wince. They are likely to explain that teas are too delicate for boiling water, with the ideal temperature being 70C for white tea.
Advised temperatures vary across the tea spectrum: black and oolong teas require water at around 85C, whereas herbal infusions need 100C, and for chamomile, around 90C. Boiling water can also burn coffee, the best temperature for making it is between 91C and 96C.
There are some key dos and don’ts when it comes to making your purchase. Make sure your kettle is comfortable to hold and not too heavy. It should be easy to fill up and pour without spitting or pouring back down the kettle.
Other features you may or may not be interested in are energy efficiency (whether it can boil small amounts of water), how quickly and quietly the water boils and whether the viewing window clearly shows the water level.
Check the kettle has enough different temperatures to suit your needs, and if you’re after a keep-warm function, check how long the water stays hot for as this can range from half and hour to four hours. If you’re in a hard water area, be sure to get a kettle with an effective limescale filter.
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Bosch TWK7203GB: £100, John Lewis & Partners
This sleek kettle doesn’t come cheap, but it has a clear wow factor. It’s a doddle to use via the touchscreen base that enables you to choose temperatures between 70C and 100C in five-degree increments, and there are even four presets for your favourite drinks, plus a 30-minute keep-warm function.
At 1.7 litres, it’s a decent size for larger families, yet you can boil as little as one mug, making it energy efficient. It’s ergonomic to hold, easy to pour and signals when it’s started and finished boiling with a short bleep. Oh, and it has an excellent limescale filter. But while it’s quick, it could be quieter and it’s quite heavy.
Crux Precision Touch temperature control kettle: £99.99, Amazon
We love the chic stainless steel and rose gold option for this New York-designed kettle, and the digital bar is a joy to use, enabling you to pick anywhere between 80C and 100C for precision temperature with the lightest touch. When the water is ready, there’s a non-intrusive bleep and the keep-warm function keeps the water hot for half an hour, meaning you can get prepared well in advance of any tea party.
Bosch TWK8633: £65.99, Amazon
This kettle, which comes in black, white or with stainless steel, ticks a lot of boxes – it’s well balanced, quick to boil, energy efficient and good for hard water areas. At 1.5 litres, it’s on the smaller side for variable temperature kettles, so best for smaller households. You can select from four temperatures between 70C and 100C and there’s a keep-warm function. But it’s noisier than some kettles we tried – not great if you don’t want to wake anyone up in, say, a small flat.
Drew & Cole Redikettle: £79.99, Amazon
This 1.7 litre kettle has five temperature settings between 70C and 100C, offering greater precision than some. The viewing window is easy to see so you can tell exactly how much water is in there.
It is easy to fill up and pour, provided you have strong wrists as it’s on the heavy side, and it will keep your water warm for up to four hours – handy if anyone else fancies a hot drink as they won’t have to reboil the kettle, which saves time and energy.
Cuisinart multi-temperature jug kettle CPK17U: £69.99, Amazon
This one was one of the fastest-boiling in our roundup. Highlights include an ergonomic handle, quick-flip lid, nice pouring action and clear buttons that allow you to heat water to 85C or 100C, while a third button enables you to vary the temperature between these ones in 5C increments. We thought the limescale filter did a good job and there’s a (very good) matching toaster. It does get hot to touch, so perhaps it’s not the best option if you have kids who use it, and the trade-off for the super quick boil time is that it’s relatively noisy. It also comes in red.
Sage BKE820UK: £89, Currys
This is a great buy on account of boiling water at speed and having five temperature settings – 80C, 85C, 90C, 95C and 100C. It’s lovely to hold and use, with its ergonomics and weight being clearly well thought-out (the soft-closing lid is a joy). Plus it’s very easy to see when it needs refilling and there’s a useful keep-warm feature that means water will stay warm for 20 minutes. The limescale filter wasn’t as effective as some, so perhaps not one for hard water areas and we found it tough to remove greasy fingerprint marks.
KitchenAid Artisan 1.5L kettle: £129, Currys
No need for those in hard water areas to avert their eyes for this one – its limescale filter is spot on. It has six different temperature settings from 50C to 100C, plus a gauge showing the exact temperature of the water at all times, which means you may not have to reboil the kettle the next time you want a drink. Like most KitchenAid products, its retro look is striking, it’s extremely well-built and it comes in some great colours. On the practical side, it has a low minimum fill and makes a very satisfying beep when its job is done. Good luck in trying to see how full it is, though, and it’s heavy, so bear that in mind if buying for anyone who struggles with lifting.
George temperature control kettle: £30, Asda
This good-value kettle heats water to 75C, 80C, 85C, 90C and 100C. And it does so quickly. The wide lid makes it easy to fill up and the water level indicator is clear to read. We found the limescale filter very effective, making it good for hard water areas. But you have to heat a fair bit of water every time and you also have to remember to turn it off before you put it back in its stand or it can start reheating the water. Still, though, this is a reminder that paying the most doesn’t always get you the best.
Beko temperature control kettle: £34.95, Amazon
A wallet-friendly option, this plastic kettle might not boast quite the sophisticated looks of some of its pricier counterparts, but it is easy to fill through the lid or spout and it does its job speedily, in addition to being a breeze to pour.
Available in black or white, it has 1.6 litre capacity and lets you select 40C, 60C, 80C or 100C, as well as enabling you to keep the water warm for half an hour. It’s on the heavy side, though, and the viewing window isn’t as visible as some. We'd recommend sticking to a different option from our roundup if you live in a hard water area, as the filter in this kettle isn't as strong as others. A matching toaster and coffee machine are also available.
Vonshef 1.7L variable temperature kettle: £39.99, Amazon
A contemporary looking stainless-steel kettle, this one enables you to pick from four temperature settings between 70C and 100C, plus there’s keep-warm function for an impressive two hours. With 1.7 litre capacity, there’s enough to fill six cups in one go and we found the filter effective for keeping limescale at bay. The flip-up lid makes it easy to fill and it doesn’t splash when it pours. But there are quieter kettles available, as well as comfier ones to hold, and isn’t the easiest to keep clean.
The verdict: Variable temperature kettles
The Bosch TWK7203GB is on the pricey side, but it’s our clear favourite, although still not perfect as it could be quieter and lighter. For a more purse-friendly option, our vote goes to the George temperature control kettle, which is a bargain for a mere 30 quid.
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