The traditional electric tea kettle and the cordless kettle is well known in both Europe, Asia and Australia but is still relatively unknown in America. This staple of non-American kitchens is used to quickly boil water for tea, coffee, instant soup and even instant noodles. Most electric kettles are made to boil up to 1-3/4 liters of water, and more powerful models (1,500 Watts) can do so within 5 minutes. Boiling enough water for a cup of tea or coffee takes less than 30 seconds.

The old fashioned electric tea kettle with a fixed electric cord is almost never seen these days. Cordless kettles have taken their place. The advantages are obvious - the electric cord is fixed to the base, and the kettle is only placed on top of the base when you want to boil water. You can easily remove the cordless kettle from the base to pour water or refill it. It is very much more convenient that the old electric kettles with fixed cords, where you have to drag the cord around with you and worry about snagging it on some obstacle or getting it wet when refilling the kettle.

Many of the cheaper electric tea kettles have a plastic body with a metal heating element, while electric kettles with stainless steel bodies are usually more expensive. Nevertheless, most of the bestselling cordless kettles in America have stainless steel bodies. It seems that most Americans still do not feel safe drinking water boiled inside a plastic container regardless of the assurances of the government regulatory agencies.

Regardless of whether your cordless kettle has a plastic body or a stainless steel body, you cannot drink the water from the first boiling. You need to boil and replace the water a few times before it is clean and safe enough to drink. For whatever reason, plastic electric tea kettles need this cycle of boiling and washing done more often - sometimes a dozen times or more, especially for the cheaper models. You will know when to stop, because that is when you stop smelling the plastic or other strange odor in the boiled water.

Do note that the electric tea kettle only boils water. It does not keep your water hot. Just like a stovetop whistling kettle, that is not its job. If you want to keep your water warm at a fixed temperature, you need to use an electric airpot. Also note that the body of a cordless kettle will get hot when it boils water, regardless of whether it is made of plastic or stainless steel. It is like any normal cooking kitchen appliance - it is supposed to get hot and it does get hot. So use some common sense and do not touch it with your bare hands.

In these days of cost-cutting and outsourcing to countries with cheap untrained labor, it is better to buy your electric tea kettle from a retailer with a generous return policy. There have been increasing complaints from consumers about cordless kettles which leak after a few weeks of use, or plastic kettles where the strange smell does not fade even after more than a dozen cycles of boiling and washing.

Despite these and other problems, an electric tea kettle is still your best choice if you want to boil water to make coffee or tea quickly. Not even the favorite of American kitchens, the microwave, can boil water as quickly as a cordless kettle.