One of the first things I bought once I became “serious” about tea was an electric tea kettle. I did not want to spend too much on the first purchase, so after reading lots and lots of reviews, I decided on the T-fal BF6138 Electric Tea Kettle because it had variable temperature control (three options) and the price was right (around $25 when I purchased it). This review is based on two years of almost daily use.
This is the modest cardboard box it comes in. You get the tea kettle and its base, and the user manual. No “bonus” items are included.
I have to “detail it” before I can post any pictures of the actual tea kettle. It is not very photogenic at the moment 🙂
Variable Temperature Control
The variable temperature control has three options. I have not yet measured the temperatures, I just use the lowest setting for the most fragile teas, the medium setting for general purpose green teas, and the highest setting for black and herbal. I picked up a thermometer for this task but I have yet to “unbox” it 🙂 The green lever is pretty good, you can easily move it and tell it has switched to one of the other two settings.
The only other button you have on this is a green ON/OFF unibody button. You press the ON side of the button to start heating water. When it finishes heating the water, it pops off on its own.
This is a basic electric tea kettle. This is a summary of its main features and functions (in addition to variable temperature control mentioned above):
- can boil water between 0.5L and 1L (roughly two to four 8oz-cups)
- yellow light (in the button above) lights up when it is heating water
- the bottom is metal, the rest is some kind of plastic
- removable water filter (filters (verb) when you pour the water out)
- heating element is hidden below shiny bottom, it is not user-reachable (very good thing!)
- has two vertical windows on each side (not lighted)
- nice roomy handle, good pouring
- you can “hear” its progress by the water-boiling sounds it makes. Once it finishes, there is an audible click as it pops-off the power button
- Auto Shut Off worked every single time I used it
- cord coils underneath the base so you can adjust its length as needed
- kettle rotates 360 degrees on its base
- AC plug is responsible – it only takes up one spot in a vertical socket
Unfortunately you cannot heat water for only one cup. The minimum is 0.5L which is around 17 fluid ounces. If you want to err on the side of caution, you will likely fill it just above the 0.5L line, so you will probably have a minimum of 18oz. So you may want to plan accordingly, eg use some of it for soup or oatmeal, along with tea or coffee or hot chocolate. The maximum is 1L which is roughly 34 ounces, around four cups. By cup I mean the standard 8 fluid ounce cup. Since you can’t fill it at exactly the 1L line unless you pour very patiently, if you want to err on the side of caution, you’ll have slightly less than 34oz.
The user manual is useful, especially if this is your first electric tea kettle. It has some helpful tips and recommendations for care. For example, they suggest white vinegar for descaling. I am using filtered water, so that helps in minimizing mineral deposits at the bottom.
Before using it for the first time, I ran a few pots of tap water to get the machine “primed” and get all the material-y smells and tastes out of the way.
THE BPA QUESTION
I spent a lot of time googling and reading reviews and answered-questions to figure out whether this is BPA-Free or not. I was not able to find a clear answer. So if you must absolutely avoid anything that may have BPA, then avoid it unless you are convinced it is not BPA free. Unfortunately I do not have a chemistry lab to test it 🙂 Having said that, I haven’t turned into a zombie after two years of almost daily use 🙂
PRECAUTIONS and THINGS to AVOID
- can only be used with its base, DO NOT USE on Stove, you will ruin it!
- only heat water in it, nothing else!
- do not boil less than 0.5L or more than 1L water
- do not pour water on it while the kettle is on its base and connected to AC power
- pictures of the kettle (after detailing it)
- measure water temperature at the three preset settings
- measure water temperature as it sits in the kettle, eg after 10 minutes