Must-Have Tools for Teatime

Our guide features the test kitchen’s favorite tea-making tools and equipment for making teatime treats.

This large, sleek glass kettle was one of the quickest in our lineup. The power switch lights up in an icy blue when it’s activated, the handle is wide and comfortable, and the kettle sits securely on its base. We also liked its slow-open lid, which prevents accidental burns from steam and splashing water. It has a removable filter in its spout which, while not strictly necessary, is a handy feature in areas where the water has sediment.

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At a glance, the Cosori shares similar characteristics with the top-rated OXO kettle: a large glass carafe that can hold as much as 60 ounces of water; a light-up power indicator that’s hard to ignore; and a gentle, slow-open lid. Once it starts to heat up, the entire carafe lights up in a purplish-blue color; it shuts off when the water reaches a boil, making it easy to notice when the water is ready. The lid opens when you press a button on the back of the handle, a much more convenient way to open the lid than manually prying it open. Our only quibble is with the handle, which is bulky and a little uncomfortable to hold, especially for people with small hands.

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Lightweight and easy to lift, this nicely designed kettle held plenty of water for its size—a full 2 quarts. The kettle whistles loudly, and the spout pours neatly. The raised, open handle leaves plenty of space below for opening the lid and keeps hands out of harm’s way. The lid loop is big and comfortable to pull. The kettle showed no damage from our abuse testing and cleaned up nicely. We wish the interior were lighter, but otherwise this is a lovely, sturdy (but not heavy) kettle, which comes in a rainbow of colors at a moderate price.

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The best adjustable kettles are fully customizable and convenient, and this model excelled. It consistently boiled water in less than 3 minutes, besting every other kettle in the lineup by at least a minute. Its easily visible capacity line and single-knob controls made filling and operating a breeze, and its comfortable, grippy handle and lightweight construction made it easy to hold and steadily pour water for a perfect pour-over coffee. It was also the most accurate option: It hit every custom-selected temperature within 1 degree and held it for 30 minutes.

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This basket-style tea strainer had the biggest capacity in our testing, equivalent to 13.5 tablespoons—more than enough for good water circulation. With a 2.5-inch opening, it was easy to fill and clean. And its tightly woven mesh basket kept even the finest leaves out of the finished tea. As a bonus, it has a top that can also be used as a saucer, holding the basket and catching any drips after or between infusions.

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This smart mug is simple to set up and easy to use, and when used with its app, it is the most accurate model we tested. It kept coffee at the temperatures we set for an average of 70 minutes and within our ideal temperature range of 130 to 160 degrees for an average of 90 minutes. We liked that the app sent an alert when the coffee had reached our set temperatures. It charged in just 2 hours, one of the shortest charging times in our lineup. We also liked its built-in safety features; it automatically “sleeps” when it’s empty or after 2 hours of inactivity. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can still use this mug: It’s programmed to maintain a temperature of 135 degrees, though when we tested this function the temperature remained closer to 130 degrees.

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Testers raved about this travel mug, which not only kept coffee hot and cold for far longer than any other mug we tried but also was the easiest to use. Slim from top to bottom, it was comfortable for hands of all sizes to hold, open, and close, but because the opening is narrow, we had to aim a little more carefully when filling it. A simple push of a button popped open its lid, exposing the clean drinking spout within. Testers also loved that this leakproof mug came with an equally easy-to-use locking mechanism, which provided good insurance against accidental spills. Just a few minor durability issues: Like the other models, it dented when dropped, and it smelled of coffee even after several washes. Also worth noting: Because it’s so good at retaining heat, you may want to cool your favorite beverage to the temperature you prefer before sealing the mug or you risk a very hot surprise on your first sip.

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This folded metal pan produced tall, picture-perfect pound cake and sandwich bread with crisp corners. Like all folded pans, it lacked handles and had crevices in the corners that trapped food. We had to clean it very carefully. The corrugated pattern on the metal didn't affect the appearance of the baked goods. It still scratched slightly.

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This pan, from the manufacturer of the original Bundt pan in 1950 (as well as our favorite full-size Bundt pan), exceeded expectations with its superior design and results. Its mini cakes had tall, defined ridges and an elegant stature. The cakes’ gently filigreed edges browned nicely, and the pan’s handles made for easy (and safe) transfer in and out of the oven.

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Producing the most evenly cooked, professional-looking baked goods of all the pans we tested, this model made brownies that were level and moist from center to edge and cornbread that was deeply golden and uniformly browned. Not even sticky bun glaze stuck to the pan. Despite becoming slightly scratched in abuse tests, its surface released perfectly and was easy to clean.

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Our winning spoons had a simple design that allowed for a continuous, bump-free sweep, with a ball-chain connector (similar to what military dog tags hang on) that was easy to open and close. This set's metal construction felt remarkably sturdy, and ingredients didn't cling to the stainless steel. And while the 1-tablespoon measure did not fit into all spice jars, it was a minor inconvenience for an otherwise easy-to-use set.

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With an ergonomic Santoprene rubber handle and a balanced, lightweight feel, this whisk was like an extension of a hand. It whipped cream and egg whites quickly, thanks to 10 wires that were thin enough to move through the liquid quickly but thick enough to push through heavy mixtures and blend pan sauces to smoothness.

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This mixer performed exceptionally well. It was speedy, creaming butter and sugar and whipping meringue faster than any other model, and it muscled through dense cookie dough with ease. Its beater heads are the widest in the lineup, making for efficient mixing and zero clogging, and they’re silicone tipped, so they didn’t clang around in the bowl. This mixer is thoughtfully designed with several features that make mixing more efficient and convenient, including a timer, a light that shines into the mixing bowl, a pause button, a well-positioned display screen, and a plastic storage case that locks onto its base.

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This mixer performed the same as our winner, just without the bells and whistles. It offered a wide range of speeds, from slow to lightning fast, allowing it to tackle both lighter and denser ingredients with ease. Its controls, which consisted of a simple on/off button and two buttons to select speeds, as well as a small display screen, were the most intuitive to operate in the lineup. It was also one of the fastest models, losing only to our winner when creaming butter and sugar and beating egg whites for meringue. While it doesn’t offer all the special features and conveniences of our winner, it is a fantastic option for home bakers.

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