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Do teapot warmers work?

Pei Oct 26, 2006 07:00 PM

Now that the weather's getting cooler, I'm in the market for a good teapot.

I think I have my heart set on a Brown Betty for aesthetic and quality reasons, but am wondering if people have advice about keeping tea warm once it's in the pot.

I know, I should just make a fresh pot when the old one gets cold, but it takes me a long time to finish a big pot by myself!

Do the teapots with warmers (and tealights) below them work? Do most teapots fare will with direct contact with a flame, however tiny?


Would I be better off knitting myself a wool/felted tea cozy?

  1. c
    cheryl_h Oct 26, 2006 07:53 PM

    This doesn't really answer your question, but I make big pots of tea regularly when I'm home during the day. I use an infuser and once the tea is brewed to my liking, I take the infuser out. When the tea is colder than I like I just heat a cup in the microwave.

    Another version of this is to make the tea very strong, almost like a tea essence. Then you pour just a little into a cup and top with boiling water. A Russian friend of mine used to do this.

    Tea cosies are really cute but not terribly effective.

    1. liu Oct 26, 2006 08:22 PM

      Greetings, Pei!

      The warmer you are looking at from Crate & Barrel -- how does it warm? Does it use a candle or is it plug-in? I would worry with a candle that the bottom of the teapot will blacken from the flame, or an electric cord will not be as portable as you would like. (Living in SoCal, I also worry about an open flame that I am not watching.)

      As cheryl_h posted above, I brew with a strainer each cup I drink. I do drink several cups a day, and it is quite easy. I use an electric Braun pot (I think I bought it about two years ago at Macy's) to heat the bottled water and it is super fast! I can heat about 2 cups of water in a minute or two; then I just pour it over the fresh tea strainer that fits into my 2-cup mug. Sometimes I re-steep with the same tea, and sometimes I just toss it and add a different tea for variety.


      These water heating pots are still available, and perhaps my favorite kitchen appliance!

      1. a
        Anne H Oct 26, 2006 08:25 PM

        I have a lovely tea cozy, very thick and well padded, and it keeps tea hot in a pot for an hour or so, I think. Won't work if you want to drink tea all day, but certainly keeps it hot for awhile. I inherited it, it is about two inches thick on each side, whatever is inside, it is not high tech, it's several decades old.

        I doubt anything that applies ongoing heat will leave your tea tasting very good. I'd go with a cozy or a thermos, or just keep boiling water.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Anne H
          Scrapironchef Oct 26, 2006 10:16 PM

          I lean towards your logic, it's the same problem as keeping coffee on a warmer all day. The volatiles that provide flavor are going to be driven off by the heat leaving you with brown water.

          My tea cozy is fine at dinnertime, if I want to keep tea hot longer I put it in a thermal carafe, good for 2-3 hours.

          1. re: Scrapironchef
            liu Oct 26, 2006 10:32 PM

            Does your thermal carafe impart any "off" flavors to the tea after it has been sitting in there for 2-3 hours? Or, does the tea taste "flat" after it sits for a few hours?

            1. re: liu
              Scrapironchef Oct 27, 2006 04:05 AM

              The one I use has a glass liner so it has never been a problem with flavors.

              1. re: Scrapironchef
                liu Oct 27, 2006 04:22 AM

                Perhaps I refer to the plastic liner? I just never liked the funky flavor of liquids that sit in such a thermos, so I stopped using any such device long ago. Maybe it's time to give these carafes another try...

        2. s
          studiocate Oct 26, 2006 10:56 PM

          I know this doesn't really answer your question, but like liu I also have the electric Braun pot. I've had it for about 3 years and it's been really useful.

          2 Replies
          1. re: studiocate
            liu Oct 27, 2006 12:26 AM

            studiocate - Have you ever used it for anything other than boiling water (I know you're not supposed to!)? This is the only use I have for it, but it certainly carries its weight in the kitchen and is well-deserving of the space it takes on the counter because it does heat water sooo well! I really love it!

            1. re: liu
              studiocate Oct 27, 2006 08:52 PM

              LOL It's never occurred to me to try boiling anything else in it! But it's so handy just for water. I used to have the Zojirushi water heater, but I didn't use *that* much hot water and wasn't sure if it was ok to leave water in the heater for 2-3 weeks. So I made the switch to Braun and have never regretted it!

          2. bolivianita Oct 27, 2006 04:43 PM

            If you boil your kettle on a stove you could do what my father always did. He would turn the heat almost off, remove the lid to the kettle and put the tea pot on the kettle. The steam from the water in the kettle kept the tea warm.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bolivianita
              Pei Oct 27, 2006 05:25 PM

              So smart! I'll have to keep an eye out for a kettle with a hole the right size. Or maybe a 1 quart sauce pot...

              1. re: Pei
                liu Oct 27, 2006 07:13 PM

                Yes, good idea! The multi-quart sauce pan might work if you prop the tea kettle up -- mostly out of the water -- with an inverted veggie strainer, perhaps.

            2. chowser Oct 27, 2006 07:45 PM

              My mom and MIL both use tea cup w/ built in infuser. They have a zojirushi water heater that keeps water warm all the time, refill each cup through the day w/ hot water and still reuse the tea leaves.


              10 Replies
              1. re: chowser
                liu Oct 27, 2006 10:41 PM

                I might be wrong about this...perhaps someone else can chime in with a chemistry lesson. Water that sits hot all day seems to go "flat." There is just something not "bright" about it...?? Does it have to do with the oxygen content? Calling all Chem 101 students!

                I prefer to use filtered or bottled water for tea and boil it FRESH just to the appropriate temp for the specific tea (different temps for different teas). Am I being overly 'Hound-ish about this?

                1. re: liu
                  chowser Oct 27, 2006 11:12 PM

                  I don't think there is such thing as being "overly" houndish.;-) If you taste a difference, that's what counts. I have read you need to use fresh water to make great coffee. If you're comparing tea sitting on a little burner for hours vs. making a fresh cup from water sitting around, I'd pick the fresh cup. As far as chemistry goes, H2O is H2O, heating doesn't change it's form being heated but if there is air in the water as it's poured, it will leave the water more over time and faster w/ the heat. Think of a fish tank needing an aerator. Maybe that's what's causing the difference you're tasting.

                  1. re: chowser
                    liu Oct 27, 2006 11:42 PM

                    chowser, you are to-the-point, exactly! It's not a true ingredient taste different, rather the FEEL of the water. I know all this is very, very subtle and almost esoteric (not to the extreme of "affected"), but I really do sense a difference if the water is not fresh.

                    Does anyone else sense this?

                    1. re: liu
                      Pei Oct 27, 2006 11:59 PM

                      I agree that it does. I don't know if it's something that happens to the tea as it oxidizes (can that even happen?) or that the water evaporates and changes the concentration of the liquid. But this is why I don't like to just reheat my tea repeatedly, or keep a gallon in the fridge and heat up some at a time.

                      Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! I think for my daily purposes I can get away with a well constructed tea pot and a thick tea cozy, which will keep the water warm for an hour, tops. At that point, more boiling water! I mostly drink Taiwan high mountain tea, so the second, third, and fourth brews are tastier than the first anyway.

                      1. re: Pei
                        liu Oct 28, 2006 12:31 AM

                        Pei -- I'm not trying to beat this into the ground, but I am referring to over-boiled or over-heated PLAIN WATER. I surely agree with you about a quality loss with reheated tea, but I also sense some loss of luster about over-done water.

                        1. re: liu
                          Pei Oct 28, 2006 01:15 AM

                          Don't worry, I'm curious too.

                          Maybe it has something to do with the incredibly hard water we have her in LA. Perhaps overboiling does something to all the minerals in it?

                          1. re: Pei
                            fauchon Oct 28, 2006 12:41 PM

                            I'm a long-time tea drinker...I can't live without my electric kettle (I use one from Russell & Hobbs--not sure you can buy these in the US any more). Apart from proper brewing methods, one thing that makes a big difference to me is that tea must be poured! Even if I make just one cup, I always pour it from one vessel into another. My theory is that the act of pouring might be like letting breathe & allowing the flavor to open & develop.... JMO but there it is!

                            BTW, I never allow tea to sit...With the elec kettle, boiling water is super speedy so you can always have freshy brewed tea.

                            1. re: fauchon
                              liu Oct 28, 2006 03:42 PM

                              fauchon - I agree with everything you have said. I also use an electric water heating pot and brew fresh for every cup. Perhaps the necessary pouring tactic that you describe allows the tea to cool to the perfect drinking temperature so that it doesn't sit before you enjoy. In this way, you consume it immediately after brewing. And JMO...might it be so?

                          2. re: liu
                            cheryl_h Oct 28, 2006 07:00 PM

                            Water generally has gases dissolved in it. When you bring it to boiling point, the gases are driven off. What's left behind is purer, closer to distilled water. But often the gases are what give water a flavor so boiled water can taste flat, just as distilled water usually does.

                            If you reheat tea or coffee, nothing is changed assuming you boiled water to make the tea/coffee in the first place, i.e. you can't change its chemical makeup further.

                            1. re: cheryl_h
                              Seagull11 Nov 10, 2008 04:38 PM

                              When you overboil the water, or boil the same amount of water many times it will result in concentration of so called "heavy" water in your kettle. The water (H20), which consist of 2 hydrogens and oxygen, has some small amount of D20, or deuterium, instead of hydrogen. Deuterium is heavy atom, which is hydrogen plus 1 neutron and is slightly radioactive. D20 has higher boiling temperature then H20, therefore if you boil water many time you increase the concetration of D20. whether it can do a great harm to the body is unknown...

                2. omotosando Oct 28, 2006 03:19 AM

                  Over the years, I have used a variety of ceramic teapots that came with insulated metal covers that you fit over the ceramic pot to keep the tea warm. They won't keep the tea warm forever, but they do keep your tea warmer than with no cover at all and I think work somewhat better than a tea cozy.

                  My latest teapot, which I love, came from my local Sur La Table store. It's white ceramic with a great infuser and an insulated copper cover that comes on and off. Unfortunately, I just looked at Sur La Table's website and didn't see it. However, I am sure if you look around, you can find something similar. I forgot the brand name and threw away the package.

                  1. c
                    chuckl Nov 10, 2008 05:13 PM

                    I like to use a cozy to keep the pot warm, and it doesn't hurt to simply add more hot water after it gets cold or your pot gets low. I'm fond of the white teapots at cost plus, they're cheap and very practical. we also splurged when we were in sausalito and bought a nice Heath teapot, which is a bit larger.

                    1. tim irvine Nov 11, 2008 05:59 AM

                      I have the standard English formula...Russell Hobbs, Brown Betty, and cozy...once I foolishly tried to wash a cozy. It had been stuff with some sort of fluff that disintegrated. While I was looking for a new cozy I just wrapped a towel around the pot. It looked like a wadded up towel, but it worked about the same. Try a towel to see if the cozy approach works for you.

                      1. p
                        Pallium Nov 15, 2008 06:28 AM

                        Having been to boarding school in England and being in a very British upbringing regarding tea. I love my quilted tea cozy, it keeps the pot hot and I always run hot water (from tap) threw my mug before refilling to keep tea warm longer and helps that cold ceramic does not wick heat from cup

                        1. Caroline1 Nov 15, 2008 09:11 AM

                          I don't like tea lights or any sort of "burner" under the pot because, whether or not you use an infuser or leave the leaves in the tea, the tea gets stronger and bitter. For me, the ideal is a small "tea ball" so I can make one freshly brewed cup at a time.

                          Along the super-brewed/samovar idea, I once had a friend who brewed a "tea concentrate," then kept it in the refrigerator and added boiling water to a teaspoon or so of the tea essence. Hers was to die for! GREAT tea! I followed her instructions to the letter more than once, but never with her result. I think she was holding back an old family secret.

                          I have several tea infusers for single cups, but the one I like best is made of sterling silver and is in the shape of a little tea pot. It also has a stand with drip tray to hang it on in case I want to use it for a second cup. My other infusers are stainless steel or aluminum. I think the sterling is best because it never disturbs the true flavor of the tea.

                          There are now some very attractive heat proof glass tea pots on the market that include a glass infuser. They should make really good tea if you want to brew a whole pot. And they're fun to make "flower teas" in too, where you can see the flowers bloom. I gave my daughter one and a collection of tea flowers for Christmas last year. She thought it was good tea and a lot of fun.

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