I was lucky enough to receive this wonderful (oh, erm..spoilers…) kettle as a Father’s Day present.
Apparently at some point in time I’d let it slip that one thing my teaware inventory could really do with was a new variable temperature kettle – my old Philips finally gave up the ghost some time ago.
Since then, I’d resorted to eyeballing water temperatures less than 100°C via the “size of bubbles” method, then checking the actual temperature with my old friend the meat thermometer. If I’d overheated the water that meant either letting it cool down to the desired level, or attempting to get it nearer the mark via the “decanting back and forth” technique.
The first method is rather time consuming, and the second a bit hit and miss, and to be honest this had put me off steeping green and white teas, which was a bit of a shame, really, because I’ve got some jolly nice leaves of both types in my stash right now.
So, you can no doubt imagine just how chuffed I was to have this piece of kit quite literally dropped into my lap as I sat in the sofa the other day.
Although this kettle is aimed fair and square at coffee aficionados (“baristas” get a mention in the handbook, which also has a section about selecting the right “beans“), my womenfolk were assured that it would be perfect for my needs.
My first impression was that this was a very aesthetic, nicely designed kettle, which had me thinking that if its performance was anywhere near as good as its looks then I’d hit the jackpot.
After a thorough rinse out all I had to do was bring a kettle-full of water up to a rolling boil, which was subsequently discarded. I was then good to go.
The controls only take a few seconds to learn. There are two switches on the back of the base, one to flip between °F and °C on the display, and the other to enable or disable the “Hold” feature.
The one big round black button acts as both an on/off switch and temperature adjustment knob. Both current and target water temperatures are shown on the small but perfectly clear LCD display.
You simply fill the kettle up, turn the unit on, adjust the temperature setting, and then trot off to get your leaves and teaware in order.
By default, the kettle will keep your tea water at the dialled-in temperature for a period of 5 minutes, but if the “Hold” feature is activated, that rises to a very handy 1 hour.
This is perfect for gong-fu sessions, as you will always have water ready at the ideal temperature.
If you need to top up the water level after pouring, the kettle quickly adjusts to the new, lower temperature of the water in it, and begins the reheating process.
Holding down the on/off/adjustment button for a few seconds puts you in stopwatch mode, where after a 3 second countdown the timing period begins, and the unit begins counting up until such time as you press the button again to leave stopwatch mode and return to normal usage.
The pour is perhaps best described as steady but accurate. Yes, if you are filling up a 300 ml plus vessel it might take slightly longer than other kettles, but I feel as though this is a very minor inconvenience, because the pour really comes into its own when you are gong-fu-ing in smaller teapots and gaiwans.
There’s a real feel that with the slightly slower pour you have more fine control over the volume of water used. This is very noticeable when steeping in a gaiwan, where if you overfill by even a tiny amount things can get really messy and downright painful rather quickly.
This kettle has actually sent me on a green and white tea rampage. I’ve spent the time since I first opened the box reacquainting myself with leaves I’d not bothered with for a while because of the hassle of accurately and easily heating water to the right temperature.
So far, I’ve had only one minor incident with the kettle. Once, after topping up the water level, I sat the kettle back on the base, and the display crashed, showing a garbled readout. Turning the unit off and on again sorted that out, and it’s never happened again since.
In the handbook, the kettle says (yes, **sigh**, I know…) that it’s looking forward to many years of us brewing up together. Mawkish sentimentality aside, I am too.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a cargo of Vietnam Suoi Giang Green Wild Tea that needs my attention.