Teapot vs Tea Kettle: Know the Difference and Types

colorful porcelain teapot.

Teapot. Tea kettle. Potato. Po-tah-to. They sound the same but they’re not quite the same. It’s easy to confuse the two. Quick answer: a tea kettle is used for heating water, a tea pot is used for brewing, holding and serving tea.
Let’s break down the differences, and a little extra information to further clarify teapot vs kettle once and for all. And, hopefully, get you on your way to finding the one that’s right for you.

What is a Teapot?

A teapot is just that, also spelled tea pot. A pot that holds tea and is used for serving tea. It comes in different styles and designs. There’s tons of options to choose from to suit your style, or match your kitchen.

What is a Tea Kettle?

A tea kettle is used for boiling water. It’s that simple. Similarly, it comes in different styles and designs to suit your taste. But, the basic function – to heat water – remains the same.

Main Differences in a Teapot vs Kettle

Use of Teapot vs Kettle

The main difference in usage is that a teapot is used for holding and serving tea. While a tea kettle is used to boil the water that is poured over tea bags or loose tea when brewing. Or, you can use a tea kettle to boil water for any number of things.

Appearance of Teapot vs Kettle

Appearance wise, teapots tend to be way more ornamental. Many people buy teapots as show pieces. Tea kettles, because of their practical function, can be fancy but aren’t usually made with this as a primary trait.

I have some lovely teapots that I enjoy using on special occasions. My tea kettle, on the other hand, definitely looks like it’s had some miles put on it, lol.

Heating Element of Teapot vs Kettle

Obviously, since tea kettles are used for boiling water, they use heating elements or material that’s extremely heat resistant. Most tea kettles are made to be put directly on the stove top.

Teapots on the other hand are typically not made to withstand this type of heat. In fact, you should never place a teapot directly on the stove top unless it explicitly states it can be used for that.

Different Materials of Teapot vs Kettle

Given its need for heat resistance, most tea kettles are made out of materials such as stainless steel or iron. Teapots are most often ceramic, or made with porcelain. We’ve also seen the glass teapot emerge in popularity. More on these below.

Types of Tea Kettles

Here are the main types of tea kettles. They all serve the same purpose – boiling water – but they just look a little different when doing it.

Electric Tea Kettles

Electric tea kettles are made to be used without a stove. Electric models can be plugged into any outlet and will heat the water right there. Some come as one whole piece, and others come with the heating element as a removable base. I enjoyed using this type of tea kettle when I worked in an office because I could make tea right at my desk. That probably makes me either lazy or a workaholic. Hmmm… Let’s go with time-efficient. 😉

Electric tea kettle in black

Stovetop Tea Kettles

A stovetop kettle is typically what most people think of when they think of a tea kettle. These are the tried and true whistle blowers that folks often keep as a mainstay in their kitchen.

Ours is a permanent fixture on the stove. Most come with an easy flip top spout for pouring hot water over tea, or whatever you desire.

Stainless Steel Tea Kettles

Stainless steel tea kettles are probably the most common because they are so practical. Stainless steel kettles not only look good but they are rust resistant and very durable.

Remember my kettle with the many miles on it. I’ve had it for years and it still works like a champ! You can buy them in many shapes, sizes and colors.

Gooseneck Tea Kettles

Gooseneck kettles have a long, tapered spout befitting their name. This is different from the short, stubby spout seen on most other kettles. The shape of the gooseneck kettle’s spout allows for more precise and smooth pouring.

Cast Iron Tea Kettles

Traditional cast iron kettles, called Tetsubin, have been produced in Japan for hundreds of years. It’s a hand-crafted piece that is used in Japanese Tea Ceremony.

They are made by pouring molten iron into clay or sand molds. Clay molds are used to produce artisanal kettles that are high-end. Sand molds are used for mass production of commercial kettles that are distributed across the globe.

Using a Tetsubin to boil water for brewing tea significantly changes the taste of the water, and thus the tea taste. The water is smoother and slightly sweeter, and strengthens the after taste of the tea. Some people believe the added iron from the kettle provides greater health benefits.

How do you tell the difference between a cast iron teapot vs tea kettle? Cast iron teapots are typically made with an enamel or glaze lining on the inside. This makes it suitable for brewing tea. Cast iron tea kettles, in their traditional use, are for boiling water. So, they would not have this lining.

Best Type of Tea Kettle

So, what’s the best type of tea kettle to use? For most people, electric or stovetop models will suit your needs. Cast iron kettles require a bit more care as they can rust without taking care to prevent this.

Types of Teapots

Teapots come in all shapes, sizes and designs. For some, teapots are a collectible item and they are enthused to search and find unique pieces for use or display. Here are the most common.

Cast Iron Teapots

As mentioned above, cast iron teapots are made of iron but include an enamel or glaze lining. It’s their lining that makes them suitable for brewing tea.

They are also well known for their heat retention. Greater heat retention means these teapots will keep your tea hotter for longer. Cast iron teapot users recommend “pre-heating” the pot by pouring in a little hot water and letting it sit for a few minutes prior to adding tea. This will help keep the tea warm even longer.

Blackncast iron teapot and tea cup

Unlike cast iron kettles, cast iron teapots have no effect on the taste of the tea, and they are not prone to rusting (due to their lining).

Ceramic Teapots

Ceramic pots are also good for retaining heat and keeping your tea warm. They hail from a number of different countries, and can be found in many styles and designs.

Porcelain Teapots

A porcelain teapot, or white clay pot, are associated with what is known as fine china. This is due to their connection to Chinese history and culture. Most that are commercially available are bone china, which means bone ash was added to the clay ingredients they were made with.

Bone china is stronger and less expensive than the other material porcelain teapots are made with – hard-paste porcelain. Hard-paste porcelain is known for having a brighter white color than bone china which is more off-white or ivory colored.

Glass Teapots

Glass teapots are more popular for their visual appeal. They have limited heat capacity so they won’t keep your tea warm for very long. But, lots of people enjoy watching loose tea leaves and flowers bloom as it brews.

Stainless Steel Teapots

Stainless steel is the newest of the types of teapots. Mass production of these trendy and modern teapots began in the early 1900s. They have no real historical or cultural reference like the other teapot materials.

Their major benefit is their durability. They can be dropped with minimal damage, yet they’re light enough for daily use.

As an additional benefit, they are resistant to high temperatures. So, they are the only type of teapot that can be placed directly on the stove top.

This means you can brew tea right in the teapot without needing to use a kettle. They are great with retaining heat to keep your tea warm for a long time.

What Kinds of Tea Can You Put in Each Teapot?

It really comes down to whether the teapot is glazed or not. Glazed teapots are easy to wash clean so you can brew different kinds of tea in them.

Unglazed teapots are really only good for one kind of tea since the inside will absorb traces of that tea which may be tasted in any other tea made in the same pot. This is particularly true if you’re using loose leaf tea.

However, if none of this matters to you, then brew on with whatever kind your heart desires.

Teapot Care and Maintenance

It’s pretty simple for glazed teapots. Just wash them the same as any other dish. Be sure to note whether it is dishwasher safe or not before putting it in there.

For unglazed teapots, stick with just rinsing out any residual tea and leaves. Experts suggest rinsing unglazed teapots with warm water before brewing to make the pot more receptive.

Caring for teapots is pretty straightforward. Typically, the fancier it is, the more careful you have to be with it. Although, for all teapots, avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures is a good idea.

So no placing it over an open flame (unless you have a special tray or stand to do this with) or sticking it in the fridge.

Stainless steel is going to be the easiest to care for. It is dishwasher safe, can stand high heat, and is basically indestructible if it falls or drops.

Best Type of Teapot

The best type of teapot is one that meets your needs. Consider what you will use it for (everyday cup of tea vs display), durability (will it last if my kids knock it over) and ease of maintenance (do I mind worrying about it or do I just want to wash it and put it away).

What’s the Best Teapot or Kettle for You?

The best choice of a teapot or tea kettle is really up to your personal preference. For kettles, a simple, snub nose, stainless steel kettle will suit your needs. Plus, it’s easy to find in many colors to suit your home decor.

For teapots, if you want something fancy-looking, get a glass teapot. If you want something extremely durable, go with stainless steel.

However, if you just want a simple, inexpensive, every day teapot, a pretty ceramic one should work just fine. Whether you’re brewing green tea, black tea, white tea, herbal teas, or any other kind of tea.

Ceramic teapots come in all kinds of designs, styles and colors. And, you can get them at pretty much any store that sells kitchenware.

I have a lovely ceramic one that I enjoy using for myself. That is when I’m not just making tea directly in a teacup. But I also have a nicer porcelain one that I break out for company. I actually had that one on display at my wedding.

Difference Between Teapot vs Tea Kettle

Coming away from this, I’m sure you’ve learned way more about teapots and tea kettles than you ever thought you wanted to know. Hopefully, you will never have to ask what’s a teapot vs tea kettle again. Have fun finding the one that does your heart good. ‘Cause adding a little personal style to your tea time makes it that much better.