Us Brits do like a cuppa. It's said that our empire was built on tea - arguably not the drinking of it, before the historians among you start to get in touch - and thankfully, that's about the only thing that's left over from our colonial days; the love of a good brew.
So when somebody comes along with a gadget that claims to help us make the perfect cup, we tend to take note. The Strauss T6 is just such a gadget.
Hot and cold water on tap is hardly revolutionary, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for the bog standard set up either. Office workers all over the world will be familiar with the handy little machines that dispense cold filtered water that's fit to drink, but will also spit out a jet of H2o that's hot enough to brew your favourite mid-morning pick-me-up.Now, thanks to the T6 you can have the same convenience at home. But in a much more stylish package.
Style and simplicity
It's a handsome gadget by anyone's standards and it sits on your work surface replacing the need for a kettle, a water filter and a zip tap, and because it comes in 12 (yes, 12!) different colours, you won't have to stare at something that sticks out like a sore thumb in your colour coordinated designer kitchen.
The unit is plumbed in to your cold supply by one of the Strauss engineers, and usually it takes just minutes. Then, after a quick demo, you can chuck the kettle in the recycling bin and start using your filter jug as an avant-garde vase.
With minimal controls, you can dispense cool, filtered, purified water that beats just about anything you'll find in a bottle. The dual filter and UV lamp setup takes care of the purity and the custom functions take care of the amount you can dispense. Or you can fill any sized container by holding a button down.
The T6 also heats water to near boiling in seconds, and that's where the perfect cuppa comes in. Apparently the perfect temperature for tea and coffee is around 91 degrees Celsius and that's exactly what this unit will give you. Does it work? Well, yes it does. The first cafetiere of coffee I brewed was noticeably smoother and Mrs Pocket-lint was happy with the tea too.
Near-boiling water also saves time when cooking as you can fill a pan in seconds and leave pasta and vegetables to the last minute. There's an 'extra hot' button that does what you'd expect too. Heating to full capacity took a lot less than even our fast-boil kettle and we never found we were running low on temperature once. Once we enabled the child lock, we stopped worrying about jets of scalding water being unleashed by curious toddlers too.
Handy for families
Talking of little 'uns, the 'mix' setting is something we wished we'd had years ago. You can set it to pour out a particular amount of water at exactly the right temperature for a baby's bottle, at the touch of a single button. And, crucially, as the water is purified, it's better than waiting for a kettle to cool down while a baby screams in your ear waiting for the next feed.
So, we've got water at any temperature, dispensed in customisable, one-touch amounts, from a gadget that looks brilliant and is easy to use.
There are a few minor issues. We found the cup holder didn't really fit anything we had, so it tended to be stowed away, which the engineer had warned meant that drips would end up on the counter rather than the integral drip tray. Even with the stark warning, we didn't actually see any drips at all, but over time maybe that might be something that could be an issue. So we ended up folding the little shelf away. This meant there was a certain amount of splash back, as what the T6 lacks in volume through the nozzles it makes up for in sheer force.
Filling some bottles was a bit awkward too, as the nozzles are set very close to the unit - we have a couple of CamelBak bottles that are quite wide and had to be held in position. Not the end of the world, but we found that just about everything you do with the T6 is a two-handed operation, and disabling the child lock while holding something in place can be a bit tricky.
The unit was also noisy at times, particularly when we weren't really using it. Undoubtedly a small price to pay for the convenience of instant temperature controlled water on tap, but we were still a little surprised at times. You can set the unit to power down and back up again at convenient times, so it didn't keep anybody awake at night, but in smaller, open plan living spaces, it's something to consider.
But, in all they're minor grumbles about what is an elegant, convenient addition to the average home.
The other big thing to consider is the cost. The T6 is not particularly cheap, either to buy or at first glance, to run. By joining the Strauss Water Club you're sent filters and UV lamps at timely intervals, but even on the longest, most economical plan this still works out at around £12 a month. Add to that the cost of the energy used to chill and heat the water simultaneously, admittedly offset by no more kettles and the unit's energy saving settings, and you have to do the maths before you consider shelling out.
If you drink your recommended allowance of bottled water and enjoy the ritual of a morning brew safe in the knowledge that you're doing everything you can to make the best cuppa possible, the Strauss T6 is well worth considering. We certainly didn't want to part with it once we got into the flow of using it daily.
£350 (plus £384 for 3-year Water Club)