Friday, June 12, 2009

Electric kettle roundup

In the beginning there was the humble iron kettle, and for about a thousand years, that’s about the only option there was for us green tea drinkers: you filled your kettle with water and either let the it reach full boil and then cool, or you tried to cultivate the art of removing the kettle from heat at just the right temperature.

The advent of the electric kettle unshackled us from stoves and other sources of heat, but that still didn’t solve the temperature issue: Your typical electric kettle will keep heating water until it reaches a roiling boil, which is far too hot for green tea.

Now, however, it’s a brave new world, complete with high-tech kettles with temperature-management features.

The Lexus of such kettles is the Breville BKE820XL Variable Temperature Kettle, which even has a green tea button. Unfortunately, in addition to Lexus-grade features, it also has a Lexus price tag to match.

At the other end of the price spectrum, the Sunpentown SK-1717 lacks a preset button, but it does have a temperature display, which allows you to experiment with different water temperatures to find the one that suits your tea and your individual tastes.

The temperature dial of Adagio's UtiliTEA Variable-Temperature Kettle is color coded, e.g., the "green" range on the dial tells you the usual temperature range for green tea. That's quite cool—or, I should say, not too hot for green tea.

Finally, the T-Fal BF6520004 Vitesse may have a plastic exterior but does have a steel interior, to avoid adulterating the water. Another selling point is power: "With 1750 watts of electric power, this high-speed kettle brings 1 cup of cold water to a rolling boil in one minute" [from the Amazon website].

So many choices . . . but if these many choices help entice more people into trying green tea, then I am happy for them. Although it would seem logical to learn the art of boiling water before the art of steeping tea, I can understand if some of you are impatient. After you learn the art of steeping, you will soon become mellow enough to then turn your attention to the art of boiling water.

For the culture of green tea is all about mindfullness and patience, Grasshopper.

The Lexus of electric kettles.

—Mellow Monk

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