Last Week's Gadget
Breville's latest gadget, the One-Touch Tea Maker ($249.99 at Sur La Table stores), officially hits the market today, but we were able to get a sneak peak. If you love tea, this one's for you—in fact, this tea lover had mentally designed a similar gadget months ago in hopes it would one day exist.
Let's start with the basics: Boiling water can scald loose leaves and alter their gentle flavor, and most green, black, and white teas will call for a steeping temperature that ranges between 160 and 190°F as opposed to a boiling 212°F. That might help you understand just one of the things that makes this product shine: custom temperature settings for each type of tea.
In basically the same vein, different teas take longer to steep—something that can be prolonged or cut short depending on the strength you prefer. Not one, but both of those things exist as further settings on Breville's new tea maker.
So how does the thing work overall? Inside the tea maker rests a basket, held to the side of the kettle via magnetic strip. Fill it with the leaves of your choice, and adjust the aforementioned trio of settings accordingly. It may take three touches rather than one, but they're all intuitive, simple buttons that become second nature by your second use. The water heats up quickly—in about 90 seconds to two minutes even when your water starts out chilly—and when it reaches the desired temperature, the basket with your leaves magically lowers itself and steeps for as long as you've told it to. Naturally, the basket comes back up to the top when the time has elapsed, and the machine beeps to distract you from whatever you've gone off to do. It's programmable for automatic turn on, to boot, making it a tea robot far more advanced than the initial concept I'd once conjured in my mind.
And does it make a difference? Absolutely—the flavors of all my teas (and the collection is quite large) are brought to life when they're steeped properly. It's something I've always longed for—at least the temperature control is—and I'm not aware of any other product on the market that does as much for tea as this does.
Is it worth $250? That depends on how much you love tea, how often you drink it, and how much the convenience of automatic turn on will change your morning routine. I, for one, have gotten tons of use of mine, and have a hard time thinking about putting water back into my stove-top kettle. Did I mention I have a spare burner now? Score.