Kettle and Teapot Difference: What’s Their Purpose?

Last Updated on January 24, 2023 by Claire

Imagine sifting through the aisles at your favorite store looking for something to hold your hot beverages and you come across a teapot or kettle, and then you think “since they look alike they are the same thing and will do the same job”. Only for you to make the mistake of buying a teapot in place of a kettle, place it on your stovetop and watch it disintegrate right in front of you. Painful experience right? But you’re not alone, quite a lot of other people don’t know the kettle and teapot difference, and what each is used for. The good news is this article is going to help you differentiate between both and what each is used for.

Kettle and teapot difference

kettle and teapot difference

A (tea) kettle (might be made of clay, metal, or electrical) is only used to heat water for your hot beverages. A teapot is what you use to steep tea leaves and extract flavors from the leaves. In other words, you use a kettle to heat your water and you use a teapot to “brew” your tea.

While a kettle and teapot may look similar at first glance because they both sport a spout, handle, an opening on top, and the fact that they both have water in them at some point when making tea. However, they actually serve different purposes. 

Let’s delve a little deeper…

1. Kettle

The purpose a kettle serves is to heat up or boil the water you use in making your beverages.

Kettles are made from a variety of materials such as iron or clay (traditional kettles) and stainless steel, copper, or glass (modern electric kettles), and all differ in terms of maintenance. Per McGill University, “One trade good which immediately replaced the native bark or clay equivalent is the metal kettle,” which is made of hammered brass.

However they all have two things in common- They are made from durable materials that can withstand the high heat temperatures required to boil water and can hold a lot more water (1-2 liters) as opposed to delicate teapots which are not suited to high, direct heat and only hold little liquid content at any point in time.

a. Electric or Traditional

The first is to make a choice between an electric kettle and a traditional kettle. Electric kettles are heated on stove tops or by their stands that are plugged into electrical outlets on walls, while traditional kettles are heated directly by placing them on any type of range top or stovetop.

b. Handle location and grip

This will determine how convenient it will be to handle your kettle when it’s hot. Trust me you don’t want to hold the handle of a kettle without any form of insulation when it’s hot!

c. If it whistles

While this might seem insignificant, it’s actually an important aspect to consider when choosing a kettle. That whistle is a handy reminder to turn off the stove and take off your kettle. This can help you save on energy costs.

d. If it has a built-in thermometer

Many kettles on the market today have built-in thermometers that allow you to select a preset temperature for your water, and go do other things. Immediately that preset temperature is attained, they turn off.

This is a really handy feature, especially if you’re very specific about his tea-making methods.

2. Teapot

A teapot is a container that is used for holding extremely hot or boiling water, and brewing tea leaves or coffee grounds. Teapots are made from a variety of materials such as porcelain, cast iron, stone, ceramic, stainless steel, or glass. They also come in a variety of sizes and designs to suit everyone’s tastes.

Apart from an opening for pouring water into them, most teapots feature a  spout for pouring tea and a sturdy handle. The spout may or may not have a built-in strainer that ensures no leafy bits or coffee grounds end up in your cup. 

Teapots are usually delicate and fragile, so they require quite a bit of care and cautiousness if you want to use them for a long time.

Although teapots can hold very hot water in them, do not attempt to use a teapot to boil water because they are not made for this purpose.

There are various tea-making methods and ceremonies out there and a teapot will suit almost every one of them.

a. Material

Teapots are made from a variety of materials such as porcelain, cast iron, stone, ceramic, stainless steel, or glass. These materials have different levels of interaction with the tea you make (for example, ceramic teapots are best for green tea), so if you’re an avid tea drinker it’s best you choose what suits your tea making methods best.

b. Durability

How sturdy or durable your teapot is will determine its lifespan (this also depends on how you care for it).

c. Heat retention

Ceramic teapots, for instance, will retain heat for a longer period of time than glass teapots. So you need to take this into consideration as some pots hold heat better than others, making them ideal for teas with higher steeping times.

d. Infusers

Although you can purchase infusers separately, most serious tea makers prefer teapots with built in infusers as they are better suited to their tea making “rituals” than those without them. 

e. Size

You also need to consider the size of the teapot in question. If you often make tea for yourself, then it’s best you go with a smaller teapot than a bigger one. This is because steeping multiple cups of tea when you’re only making tea for yourself may prove stressful and annoying in the long run.  

Do you need a kettle and teapot to make tea?

When it comes to making tea, you need a kettle because this is how you boil water. On the other hand, a teapot is not necessary if you have a large mug and a tea strainer. 

But if you want to genuinely enjoy those “delicately infused” tea flavors, having a teapot will make your tea drinking experience that much better.

I’ll have to point out the fact that you should remember to never use a teapot to heat water as most teapots are made from materials that cannot withstand the high, heat temperatures directly emitted by a stovetop.

How to take care of a kettle and teapot

Consider the helpful tips below:

1. Don’t leave in water for too long

Don’t let either of them sit in water for too long or leave water in them for a long time to prevent them from rusting away or degrading faster than they should.

2. Dry after use

Keep them as dry as possible quickly after use or wash.

3. Be careful putting them in the dishwasher

Make sure whatever kettle or teapot you choose is dishwasher safe, as this would reduce the stress needed to clean them.

Frequently asked questions

Can a teapot be used for coffee?

Yes, a teapot can be used to brew coffee. For this purpose its best you use a teapot that has a built-in infuser as they are more suited to making coffee and serving them.

How long do you boil water in a kettle?

Depending on the size of the kettle, it takes between 5-10 minutes to boil water in a kettle. The easiest option for those who don’t want to wait by the stove for the water to heat up is to use a whistling kettle with an inbuilt thermometer; the whistling will alert you that the water has attained the preset temperature you set.

What can you use instead of a teapot?

Since the sole purpose of a teapot is to “brew” your tea, you can use any of these alternatives in place of a teapot:

  1. Steeping machine
  2. Steeping or insulated mug
  3. Glass measuring cup 
  4. A cup-sized infuser


Although kettles and teapots seem similar, they actually serve different purposes and vary in different ways from one another.

A kettle is solely used for boiling water on a stovetop or an electrical stand or base while a teapot is only used for steeping tea leaves or coffee grounds. You can use both together to make delicious hot beverages in no time.