From bronze and iron to porcelain and glass, the tea kettle has gone through more transformations than you think
Oftentimes, we tend to obsess over the cuppa but not speak much about the humble kettle. Possibly one of the oldest and the most used items in the kitchen, the kettle has seen varied transformations - in terms of shape as well as the material used to make it. Its primary purpose, however, has remained more or less the same - to boil water or make tea.
The origin of the kettle can be traced back to the ancient land of Mesopotamia, where - between 3,500BC and 2,000BC - kettles made from bronze were used by people. These came with fancy sprouts too. Iron was the preferred material to make kettles before the 19th Century. One of the reasons behind the growing popularity of the handy kettle during ancient times was its ability to quickly boil water and the fact that it could be directly placed on the flame. Thus, the material from which it is built was important. Copper was another choice, because it could conduct heat fast.
In terms of usage, people from ancient China - mostly the soldiers and travellers - used kettles primarily for two reasons - to get rid of the impurities in water and, in the process of boiling, also lend a flavour to it. Legend has it that while doing so they found out that adding green tea leaves to boiling water could dramatically change its taste and render a refreshing effect on those who sips on it. European warriors and nomads, on the other hand, used the kettle to boil water infused with wheat grain. This practice could be what eventually led to the making of the malt beer. The North American cowboys made coffee in the already popular kettle.