Best New Tea Tool

Posted April 03, 2009

The problem is, when you become a tea freak—when you discover you rely upon a floral First Flush Darjeeling in the a.m., a sweet lemony Sencha in the afternoon and maybe even a little of the ethereal Ceylon Silver Tips at night—not only do you feel a little sheepishly pretentious, but you have to spend a lot of time watching water boil, since the best pure teas have their own precise brewing temperatures. The guidelines are easy enough to remember: Boiling water yields the tastiest blacks, 175° does it for greens and 160° for whites. But it's really embarrassing (not to mention discouraged in certain old wives' tales) to stand around watching a pot boil. Yet that's what you have to do to stop the kettle at the proper temperature, unless you have money to spend on Fine-T's awesome precision tea brewer, or Zojirushi's dreamy fuzzy logic water heaters.  Which many tea freaks don't, because they've spent all their money on good tea. Thankfully, or rather hallelujah, because ChefsChoice has come to the rescue — with their $99.95 electric SmartKettle. It's not the fastest, nor the most intuitive to set up, but it looks beautiful, it's cordless, and without anybody watching, it brings water to any temperature you want between 122° and 212° F for up to 20 minutes before it shuts itself off. I'm smitten. And off to have a Sencha.

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