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Indispensable for Tea Lovers (extensive test data included)
on June 18, 2012
This has review three parts: (1) why you should get something like this in general, (2) specific concerns about this product not addressed in other reviews, and (3) detailed operational measurements (water temperature range)
=== Part 1: Why to get an variable temperature electric tea kettle ===
For anyone who drinks tea (unless it is exclusively black) or makes coffee outside an all-in-one, department store drip-brewer, this is absolutely indispensable. Though most recipes have been built to use only room-temp or boiling water (since those are the only temperatures to easily reach with consistency), more cutting-edge cooking as well as coffee/tea prep requires more finesse. Unless you're willing to watch the proverbial pot boil with a thermometer in hand, this is the only way to heat water on such occasions.
=== Part 2: Concerns / questions raised (and/or) left unanswered by other reviews ===
I won't go into detail about well-established pros and cons covered in other reviews, but I would like to make clear a few things I couldn't determine from reviews/specs before I bought mine:
("Hot sides/surfaces"): Yes, the sides get hot, and yes, it is startling to touch the metal outer wall when the water is hot. However, according to my IR thermometer, the surface never gets much above 130 degrees. Sure, that's hot and you should avoid contact, but for comparison many people's hot water heater is set this high and (as validated by my rather stupid intentional touch test) an accidental touch is highly unlikely to cause even a mild first-degree burn unless you actively fight the reflex to instantly pull away.
("Construction / Material touching the water"): True, the sidewall level indicator and the "frame" of the removable spout filter are made of plastic (the BPA content of which I have not conclusively proved or disproved) but the former is part of a small compartment which only a small amount of water reaches and which has very limited circulation, and the latter is removable. The entire rest of the construction that touches water is steel. Since hot water dissolves BPA from plastics, and aluminum's role in neurodegenerative disease is unclear, iron/steel and glass are pretty much the only materials I trust completely for food storage/preparation containers. In this regard, this kettle is the safest option I've found.
=== Part 3: Operational test data ===
As a tea fanatic with a minimum of four kinds of tea always on hand (black, red/oolong, green, and white) and general geek, I have meticulously measured the actual temperature of the water in the kettle for the various settings. I share them here in hopes they will provide a useful operational profile for buyers interested in temperature variability. (Bear in mind that the container you pour into will greatly affect the water temperature, so remember to preheat it by filling it with hot water right before use.)
Button | @ First Trigger Completed
Label | "Beep" Re-heat Re-Heat
--------|-------- -------- ---------
160 | 164 160 163
175 | 180 175 178
185 | 192 185 188
190 | 197 191 194
200 | 203 199 204
Boil | 214 206 214
(All temperatures are in degrees F, as registered by my probe thermometer in the top half of the water with the kettle fully-filled.)
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I know this is half generally-relevant bullet points, and half geek-oriented test data, but I hope this review still has something useful for everyone.