We all like a good cup of tea don’t we? As tea aficionados only know too well though, heating the water to the wrong temperature can mean the difference between a good and bad cuppa. So can the Variable Temperature Kettle from sandwich toastie maker Breville really solve your burnt leaves problem? We get brewing to find out.
At a quick glance the kettle looks like any normal kettle: it’s cordless, comes in a brushed aluminum design and boils your water at the press of a button.
The design is "retro industrial" with a swanky pop-up lid that looks like a designer probably spent more time that he should have done and a see-through strip that lets you see the water while it’s boiling. Still, both elements are cool enough to make those who do come around for elevenses or afternoon tea gooey with your love for design. Boiling water never looked so good.
It’s not until you plonk the kettle down on its base that you realise you aren’t dealing with the just another tea maker as there are more buttons that you would normally expect to see. Lots more buttons.
In steps the variable temperature bit of the Variable Temperature Kettle.
Rather than just let you boil the water at 100 degrees Celsius (212F), the brushed metal kettle comes with five heat settings that allow you to boil the perfect cup of green tea, white tea, oolong, french press coffee (the black sheep here), and black tea (English breakfast to you and me) as well as keep the water temperature at that temperature so you can grab a second cup without having to wait. Intense.
Not one to resist a challenge we’ve been drinking all of the above teas in abundance in an attempt to see whether or not warming your tea makes a blind bit of difference once you step away from the marketing speak.
In our (not) scientific test, we made two cups of tea for each setting, one from a standard kettle and one using the Variable Temperature Kettle from Breville.
Yes there is a difference. Green tea is warmed to 175F, white tea 185F, oolong 195F, french press 200F and black tea 212F.
The results? Unfortunately for Breville we struggled to tell the difference between the two cups. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any. Far from it, but it did involve us having to use wine tasting skills to try and spot the subtle nuances.
We did however like the hold temperature button that is a must for second cup tea drinkers as it means you don’t have to boil the kettle again for that second cuppa.
Away from the notion of whether or whether not we felt the tea was more fragrant and at the right temperature to drink without needing to be cooled down (green tea we are looking at you), we were worried that we might be too easily influenced by the array of glowing white and red buttons.
In stepped some tea drinkers and a blind tea drinking marathon.
The bad news for Breville is that they failed to identify the right cup of tea every time with around a 70-30 split in favour of a standard £20 kettle that we had put it up against. Not great.
So should you or shouldn’t you? It’s a tough one as while we acknowledge that most people won’t notice the difference between this and a standard kettle, we can’t help feel that drinking tea how it is supposed to be drunk is better than drinking tea that can’t be doing much for your leaves or the flavour.
Of course if you are a black tea drinker then this kettle isn’t going to really bring anything to the party that will benefit you. Yes you could say you get a snazzy design, that second cup button and a quick boil. Good, but not justifiable for the $150 outlay.
If however you like to slurp up your oolong, grab your green tea and ponder over some white this is going to be for you.
Now who’s for sugar?