Kettle Woes

New Wife is a tea drinker.  Actually, to call her a “tea drinker” is akin to saying that her husband rather enjoys shooting guns, except that she drinks tea more often than I shoot a gun.  Hell, she almost drinks more cups of tea than the number of bullets I send downrange in a typical session.

As I’ve mentioned before, she drinks Yorkshire Gold tea, which is my fault because I turned her onto it when we were together in Britishland all those years ago, and she prefers it over all others.  Fortunately, the teabags are fine — unlike my children, she’s not a teapot fetishist, thank goodness — so we just buy the bags in bulk and all goes well.

Except for the kettle.  We use a cheap ($25) electric kettle with an auto cutoff switch rather than a stovetop-with-whistle type simply because it’s more convenient, in that when we go on a car trip, we take both kettle and teabags with us (plus my small Keurig, but that’s a story for another time).

(Aside:  I should divulge, en passant, that I make the tea in our house simply because I’ve been making tea since I was seven years old — I used to make it for my mother every day because she too was a guzzler rather than a sipper, and I enjoyed spoiling my Mom, just as I enjoy spoiling New Wife — and I make tea better than anyone I know, including Daughter and New Wife, whether using bags in a cup, or loose tea in a pot.  I also make it when guests come over, even if they know little or nothing about tea.)

Recently, however, the kettle started to misbehave:  not switching on consistently, leaking a tiny bit, not switching off automatically at the boil, and so on.  So off I went to Amazon to order a new kettle, which is where the problems started.  Here’s the executive summary.

All kettles, whether electric or stovetop, are made in China nowadays.  All are crap (probably for the aforesaid reason) in that they are quick to rust, break early and often, don’t work as advertised, and so on. Even the so-called “Japanese” kettles are made in China, and suck.  Ditto Le Creuselt, the snobby Frog brand, which is now made in China, and for $75, I would expect them to last forever and never break — except that according to the consumer comments, they’re as bad as the rest of them.  When you consider that a kettle has only ONE JOB — boiling water — this is obviously a matter of concern.

Well, I wasn’t going to be put about like this, so I decided to buy a high-quality stovetop kettle, made somewhere other than China.  Of course, the first place I looked (Williams-Sonoma) did indeed have a quality kettle not made in China, except that it costs $400, no doubt because it’s made in England[pause to recover from the fainting spell]

Never mind kettle, what was needed was Ketel One.

However, a glass of gin and a moment’s reflection provided me with the solution.

I have had the current (faulty) kettle now for just on two years.  Given the number of cups of tea that New Wife imbibes on a daily basis, an approximate calculation revealed that this El Cheapo kettle has boiled water around four thousand times — and is only now starting to show signs of age/use?  I’ve had guns that didn’t last that long, and they’re made of stainless steel and everything.

So I went back to Amazon and bought another kettle just like it (down to the color even), noting that the price ($25) was about the same as the first one I bought back then.

Yeah, it’s made in China, but they’re all made in China so there you go.  I should point out that if there were a kettle of comparable standard made in the U.S., I probably would have spent double the amount — and if we in America cannot make a simple and reliable electric kettle carrying a retail price of $50 because of greedy unions, burdensome government regulations, high operating costs, etc., then we deserve to have the Commies make all our stuff.

Let’s just hope the fucking thing doesn’t break on Day 3.  New Wife will be severely pissed at having to do without her Yorkshire Gold while I go and find something else (not made in China, FFS) to replace it.


  1. Similar experience with camp stoves. Coleman has outsourced everything to China, likewise the off brands. So you get to choose cheap Chinese crap or expensive Chinese crap with the Coleman name on it.

    1. >Coleman has outsourced everything to China

      I think their liquid-fueled stuff is still made here. I somehow misplaced the 413H campstove that I’d had since I was a Boy Scout and replaced it with a 414 (one of the “dual-fuel” models) a couple of years ago.

      Pretty much all of their newer propane-fueled stuff is made of chinesium, though. I still have a lantern that isn’t (got it for Christmas coming up on 37 years ago), but electric lighting has gotten so much better than it used to be that I haven’t had it out in a while.

  2. The problem isn’t where it’s made, it’s that most people have no idea what quality means anymore. Products are manufactured with designs that have no excess strength or durability than necessary to function.
    Costs are cut because companies realized that because you will spend $25 every two years on a new kettle with minor grumbling it’s more profitable than making a $75 kettle that will last a lifetime with rave reviews.

    1. Rather, companies found that a $75 kettle will sell only about 5% of the units of a $25 kettle, thus is makes no sense to market a $75 kettle…

      Consumers in general are so obsessed with getting the cheapest everything, and then complain about the quality sucking, rather than paying more for something that’s actually good, that quality brands simply no longer can compete.
      It’s the same with everything. It’s become next to impossible to get quality food here. Supermarkets are forced to compete solely on price, and that after they’ve outpriced the independent butchers, bakeries, and others to the point there are hardly any of them left. So again, quality suffers as A brands become hard to sell if the store brand is half the price even if it’s crap.
      I’m lucky to have a butcher here who found a niche market: muslims who demand religiously butchered meat. I don’t like the practice but he sells quality product at a decent price (hardly higher than the inferior product sold by the supermarket next door). So he gets my business when I’m in the vicinity. Even better, he can within a day or two deliver most cuts he doesn’t normally carry, with the supermarket you just get glassy eyed stares from the meat “specialist” when you ask for something that they don’t get prepackaged from the meat packaging plant.

  3. for the past 4 years or so our Tea Kettle has been on very similar to Simplex Heritage 2 Quart Tea Kettle ( which I suspect we got at Williams Sonoma but not sure. In any case, it does what it is supposed to do. Boil water several times each morning and whistle when it’s ready. Supposedly you should not fill it more than the mid point joint, but i’ve never seen it leak from there.

    I, for one, would rather spend more on something with timeless design and only buy it once or twice than having to replace it every X years. But there’s not enough return on that in the opinion of stupid newly minted MBA’s. The problem with quality products is that the Market for expensive quality products quickly saturates and not enough people need replacements to maintain an inventory. …..and there are plenty of customers who can’t or won’t buy quality so that what’s available.

    …. so the quality bespoke stuff just gets more expensive and harder to find.

  4. Just a suggestion mind you.
    Buy 2.
    Test drive both, then clean the 2nd one and put it away in it’s original packaging.
    You may need another one in 2 years and they may not be available any longer.
    I’ve learned this the hard way a few times in recent years.

    1. Quite right and I do something similar for lots of things.

      Which is why I have 6 pairs of new, in the box, New Balance S660 walking shoes in the closet.

      1. If these have a foam base, you will end up tossing them after a few years. That foam looks good forever, as long as they aren’t worn. I was given a pair of Nike shoes, brand new in box. Probably 5 years old, or so. Literally disintegrated when I tried wearing them. Maybe they would last if vacuum sealed for storage?

    2. The next time I buy a kettle, it will be expensive and made in not-China. Funds didn’t permit it this time, but next time: yes.

        1. Indeed.
          If they made it in copper with a maple handle I’d be tempted to bend some plastic.

      1. just get a simple kettle without a heater, and put it on your stove top 🙂
        Should be able to get something locally made, or even visit the local blacksmith.

        But looking at Amazon I see that even most of those are now made in China (at least the ones they sell)

  5. Looked at ebay. Prices up to $1250. Here’s one for a mere $300 or so. Made in Japan and from the name clearly not meant for the Anglosphere market. The name alone might make it tempting.

    I like good bread (that I don’t make) and that means an uncut boule. It is hard to find a toaster that that can accommodate long slices. I gave up and bought a US made toaster from the 70’s or 80’s off ebay. So far so good.

    The problem identified by GT3Ted is central – people can’t or won’t buy quality. A lousy electric teapot looks about the same as a good one, unless you disassemble them to see the differences in the heater coils.

    Don’t get me started on larger white goods purchases. I had to replace every appliance in a kitchen – the old ones lasted a long time so no regrets there. While I like the GE electric range – glass top easy to clean, I hate the upper mid-range GE dishwasher. It seems you can’t use the dry cycle unless you enjoy washing off brown spots on salad plates and cereal bowls. The dinner plates and teacups no problem – all the same set. Was told the dishwasher was functioning perfectly. Sort of like owning a malfunctioning German car and being told you can’t drive korrectly. For FFS, its a dishwasher. Who owns GE Appliances? Why that would be Haier – Chinese false flag operation.

    1. chuckR got me started. Gutted our kitchen 4 years ago and got new everything, GE Appliances cause we had good luck with them in our Florida house some years ago. This current dishwasher is the worst I have ever seen. How hard can it be? Every fukking time it’s used 90% of the items are still wet. I’m talking puddled in every area possible. MAJOR pain in the ass big time. I should have yanked it and took it back right away but I drug my feets now we’re stuck with it. If I get a windfall I may yank it and get something else anyway. I do, however like the GE white glass top range. It’s hard to find a reasonably priced white one. While we’re on the subject. I will NEVER buy a side by side fridge ever again. The freezer is way too narrow, around 14″ wide, and the icemaker at the top takes up about 1/2 of the whole freezer. Another pain in the ass.

      1. The dishwasher problem is due to government energy regulation. You cannot legally sell a functional (new) dishwasher anymore.

        1. I think my problem is that they don’t use enough water in the rinse cycle. As for energy, the damn thing runs about 2 hours. One-size-fits-all government regulations. I’m in FL, practically a desert here, don’t cha know. Water conservation may be eminently sensible for, say, New Mexico, not here. We are much more concerned with getting rid of it.

  6. Upon her return from any trip to Belfast or Glasgow (where her one surviving son now lives), Iris carries an entire suitcase packed full with teabags from TESCO.

    Same, when her sister or neice come here to visit, they bring the teabags, and return with that same suitcase packed brick-hard with comparably “inexpensive” American clothes, which later become Christmas or Birthday presents to their respective families.

    At present, we’re buring a Hamilton-Beach 1.7 ltr. glass kettle. Electric heat, auto-off. With the “oh-so-cool” looking blue LED lights surrounding the bottom of the kettle while the circuit is on.

    And yes, after 2 years, the erstwhile “stainless” trim is sprouting a nice case of rust.

    Personally, I think the old ceramic Corning Ware electric percolator was about the pinnacle in such tech. Not for tea, but just the bulletproof nature of the thing.

    And with geniune U.S. Navy commissary sourced coffee, it produced The Perfect Cup, at least for the first pour.

    Two things. 1. The U.S. Navy operates it’s own coffee roasting operations. They make some of the best on the planet. 2. The Corning Percolator would transform that Perfect Pot into the burnt-motor-oil simulation beloved by Chiefs in Goat Lockers Everywhere, in about 15 minutes post-brewing. Long as that pot was plugged in, the heating element was cooking, with a vengence!

    But this, for sure. I’m thankful for this thread and the links in the preceeding comments. I’m gonna go tea-kettle shopping, now. And with thanks for all the vaulable pointers to the non-Chinatanium wares!

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  7. Kettle is somebody’s Icelandic grandpa. To make a cup of Barry’s… teabag in 20oz (latte) cup..
    ..fill cup with tapwater..
    ..cover cup with saucer.. covered cup in 1100W microwave oven..
    ..cook on High for 4min 30sec..
    ..every tenth cup, use a burr grinder in a Dremel tool to remove calculus.
    Works fine, lasts a long time.

  8. Sadly, I never developed any taste for tea when I was in England.

    I did develop a taste for Kopparberg ciders though.

  9. That is why more people didn’t die from the Wuhan virus. It’s made in fooking China.

    If it had been made in Bavaria there’d be hordes of brain eating zombies out there…

  10. I can recommend the Russell Hobbs Illuminating glass kettle which I use. It holds a good volume – I drink my tea in pint mugs. And it’s easy to monitor any build-up of scale (when it gets too bad, just boil some vinegar).

    Yes, it’s made in China (sigh).

  11. To kick the tea up a notch, may I suggest thinking about an RO unit in the cupboard below the sink?

    I have had a GE RO (reverse osmosis) unit for a little over 15 years that takes feed from the whole house water softener and produces water that contains nearly only water. This eliminates the scale and salty taste I’d get if I fed the softened water. I like that improved purity a lot.

    My water is from a well, not a municipal supply, so there is no chlorine in it. The lack of chlorine may be why my RO cartridges last much longer than they are supposed to.

    When I lived in town and used municipal water there were several times in a typical year when the taste was awful. I didn’t have any treatment in my house to upgrade the water, and tea couldn’t cover the bad taste; nothing could.

    If your water supply is always good, great! If it has episodes of vile, an RO unit may help.

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