back to article Boiling point: Tech and the perfect cuppa

Last week, coffee drinkers were treated to some alternative brewing techniques. So, is there any special gadgetry for those with a taste for tea? Jennifer Newton discovers there’s more to letting off steam than meets the eye. Youtube Video Smart: perhaps one of the most overused words in the modern lexicon is now being …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quick boil - until the EU bans them.

    Or the maunufacturers make 'em really small.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Quick boil - until the EU bans them.

      Nah, they'll make boilers that come in under the power regs, and sell quick-boil add-ons that also come in under the regs, but when used together give you a 2kW heater. At 50% more cost, of course,

    2. Pen-y-gors

      Re: Quick boil - until the EU bans them.

      It's very strange - I'm guessing that the EU rules are drafted by people with degrees in modern languages or media studies, rather than Physics. Surely someone should explain to them that a 30kW kettle uses just the same amount of energy to boil a pint of water as a 3kW kettle - it just does it a lot quicker. Banning higher power kettles won't save a single Wh.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quick boil - until the EU bans them.

        Maybe even less energy given the temporal heat losses via conduction and convection (to the outside world) of quick boil vs slow boil should be lower?

      2. psychonaut

        Re: Quick boil - until the EU bans them.

        its stupid, i agree, however - its possible that the higher rated ones would save energy - if it boils in say 30 seconds, then you are more likely to stand around and wait for it to boil. with my kettle, i put it on to boil, wander off and do something, forget that ive boiled the kettle, then come back 10 minutes later and reboil it. then i wander off....etc etc

      3. Irony Deficient

        Re: Quick boil - until the EU bans them.

        Pen-y-gors, perhaps the goal could be to put a ceiling on simultaneous aggregate demand rather than on energy consumed, to try to limit the need for infrastructure upgrades.

        1. phil dude

          Re: Quick boil - until the EU bans them.

          For my undergrad (EE) final year project, I used the half hourly demand data and predicted the flow in the supply network (insert UK town), specifically to predict how big the cables need to be.

          Turns out that hitting the kettle when you get home or after "national event" really does need to be monitored.

          Or alternatively, when the JET (Joint European Torus) nestling in Oxfordshire, needs shoot some deuterium bullets within a plasma....


  2. JonP

    accidents waiting to happen

    the last two taps with the boiling water options are just accidents waiting to happen - you can just see someone going to wash their hands and pulling the wrong lever or with tap on the hot setting...

    this is based on the the number of warning signs i've seen at workplaces next to the hot water boilers (where it's obvious) & the number of times someone scalded themselves comes up at safety meetings (OK only maybe once a month, and not usually serious, but these are well signed & we're repeatedly told to be careful with them - in a home that isn't going to happen)

    anyway it's saturday morning, time for another nice cup of COFFEE!! ;-)

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: accidents waiting to happen

      My thoughts exactly - way too easy for a child, elderly, distracted person to scald themselves badly by using the wrong tap.

      Also why no mention of the cheaper stand-alone sort hot water boilers? At least they don't look like a sink tap and are more reasonably priced (still in the £100-500 range AFIK).

    2. Vincent Ballard

      Re: accidents waiting to happen

      Or you use the boiling tap knowing that it's the boiling tap, turn your back, and someone else burns their hand on the hot metal.

    3. thomas k.

      Re: accidents waiting to happen

      Here in the States, on the filtered water dispensers used in homes and offices which feature a hot water option, the hot water lever has a secondary mechanism (push lever in, then lift it, as opposed to just lifting on cold, for example). These faucets need something like this for to be safe.

      1. Vic

        Re: accidents waiting to happen

        the hot water lever has a secondary mechanism.... These faucets need something like this for to be safe.

        The Zip tap has something like that - but it is easily broken.


        1. Gazareth

          Re: accidents waiting to happen

          Yep, it's not easy to see in the pic but there's a button on the front that you need to hold down before pressing the top for hot water. Don't remember the metal ever getting hot enough to hurt/scald either.

  3. frank ly

    If you know what you're doing ....

    ... you can put a bit of cold water into the pot before you pour freshly boiled water into it. This is how I make coffee and various teas. My kettle cost £10 about 10 years ago and if it breaks I can walk to the shop and buy a comparable replacement. I'm even capable of bringing water to 100degC in a pan on a cooker if all else fails.

  4. RonWheeler

    Sainsbury's, £25, job job

    Title says it all.

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Sainsbury's, £25, job job

      "Title says it all."

      Some of it twice.

  5. bed

    Next week... the teapot review?

    When making tea, boiling water is only part of the equation, the vessel used for the brew / infusion has a significant effect on the process. Many years ago my grandmother had a thing like a nuclear reactor, a spherical ceramic teapot, an insulated outer layer (probably asbestos) and a shiney metal carapace which was hinged for disassembly. Unfortunately, she brewed the cheapest, tarriest tea leaves she could find, but then it was normal to add loads of sugar so it didn't matter so much. It would be interesting to see how some darjeeling tasted. The Bodum teapots look great but the necessary teacosy to provide insulation hides the greatness and, IMOP, don't work that well with large tea leaves. Which leaves me the old trusted, and reliable, tin teapot. £5 from a second hand shop.

    1. Corinne

      Re: Next week... the teapot review?

      Try one of the old Brown Betty style teapots - much better flavour than any metal one

  6. Mage Silver badge


    Equally important are:

    Blend of Tea chosen: Not just Red vs Green etc. Personal preference largely.

    Temperature: A problem at higher altitudes for open "kettles" to get 100 C

    Water: Pure distilled deionised isn't nice. The water has to be just right hard/soft. The sort that only causes very slight limescale, not too much nor none. I think water from peaty or granite source isn't as good. Obviously should have no taint from excess chemical treatment. But this may be personal preference.

    Oxygenation: Water reboiled too much is too low in dissolved gas.

    Brew Vessel: (pot or cup, Metal, type of china, Glass, etc)

    Brew time (also on Stove or natural): Depends on personal preference

    Cup : A cup only used for tea. Different kinds of tea seem nicer in differing styles of cup / mug.

    Additions: Natural, Milk (low, normal, UHT, condensed etc), cream, whitener, Lime, Lemon, Rancid Yak butter, sugar etc are in the realm of personal preference. I prefer tea with only water, or occasionally lemon or lime slice in certain red (black) teas.

    See also Chai

  7. Chris G

    Smart Kettle? Pah!

    I have a €20 Lidl kettle and a very smart wife with a degree in biochemistry, she likes to get my tea right for me and appreciates a good cuppa herself. When they start making smart kettles with a 140 plus IQ I may consider retiring her but it will have to be able to put the cup on my desk beside me and kiss me on the cheek.

  8. Irony Deficient

    Zip HydroTap: “Assuming a cost of 10p per kW […]”

    Rather than assuming a cost of 10p per kW·h? (From £3,000? I don’t want to know the “to”.)

  9. Havin_it


    What, none of them implement HTCPCP?

    1. richardcox13

      Re: Disappointing

      Good point. After all they only need to return status 418 (even if not short and stout).

      This article is about Tea; HTCPCP is about coffee.

  10. graeme leggett Silver badge

    Going by the devices shown

    "there any special gadgetry for those with a taste for tea"

    No, there is no special gadgetry, but plenty of traps for the unwary to be parted from his money.

    If you want boiling water, take a container, put water in it, apply heat. remove heat before all the water has evaporated. if you can't be around to monitor this fascinating process, any of the large supermarkets will sell you something that will do this for less than a tenner.

    If you want water at a certain temperature less than boiling, get a calculator and work out how much tap water (about 11 degrees C typically?) is needed to add to the boiling water to get the right result. More fun and cheaper. You can save the money for trying out different teas.

    If you need a lot of boiling water on tap, get a Burco, or a Hydroboil wall mount - your kitchen will look like the annex to a village hall but call it "retro". At the same time, get one of those teapots that take about a gallon of water. Even if a synod of thirsty prelates turned up you'd still be able to say "more tea, vicar" before refilling.

  11. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Tea in the US South

    Boil 1/2 gallon water. Add 6 cups sugar. Add ice. Serve.

    I use a Breville Tea Maker and apparently in the US, Breville *is* Sage from the looks of I thought I recognized that button design.

    This one has a magnetic gizmo that lowers and raises the basket of tea leaves automatically. It's completely silent and a little eerie.

    It does pretty well given the completely shit selection of non-bagged tea we have here.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Tea in the US South

      "Boil 1/2 gallon water. Add 6 cups sugar. Add ice. Serve."

      Not quite, at least around here. You need twice as much sugar, plus they (Blasphemy!) add a tea like substance to the cold water, then boil them together.

      The result is the most cloying and bitter concoction ever passed off as tea.

    2. Vince

      Re: Tea in the US South

      Yes, the "Tea Maker by Sage" ... see my other comment. Own it, love it.

      Tea tastes rank most of the time because people over-brew it, either too high a temperature, too low a temperature or for too long (the latter being most common).

      This thing has pre-sets for all the usual stuff, but I can tell you, my Irish Breakfast tea tastes perfect with 5m of brew time at just shy of 100, while the Nagiri Bop tastes better brewed longer. Meanwhile a bit of Whittard's Afternoon blend is best for 4 minutes, but Tinners needs just 3.

      The reason most people think tea is rank because they have nasty tea bags brewed for the wrong time, at the wrong temperature, or worse, they experience those sodding vending machines.

      In our household, even the most resistant party who thought £200 of tea maker was ridiculous now moans if they get given anything else.

      Mines the one with the magnetic lowering basket in the pocket

  12. G R Goslin

    Another option

    I live at the not excessive height of 1000 feet above sea level, and my water does not boils at 100C, but about a degree and a half below. So A kettle set at 100C would never stop boiling. Having said that, I make my tea in a filter coffee maker, and it makes a grand cup of tea. The boiling water, and it is boiling, sets up a standing pool in the filter, before percalating through. The filter (the mesh type) is fine enough to filter out all the dust, which modern loose tea seems to be infested with, To leave a lovely clear brew, which does not change with standing. The keep hot function will keep it at drinking temperature for about an hour. I did once complain to the tea company about the amount of dust in the tea. Something that was once filtered out at source, and made into tea bricks for those who appreciate such. I was fed the usual rubbish, and eventually gave up. Try the coffe maker route and I'm sure you'll be impressed.

    1. Gray

      Re: Another option

      +1 ... too simple, too easy, too effective. It just works. Bound to irritate the purists and traditionalists. Better don't try it ... just sit around and gnash yer teeth and suffer the idea of perfect tea coming from a coffee maker.

  13. Lars Silver badge

    What is ging on

    Not once a nice one and then a nice cup of coffee among the comments.

  14. Vic

    We had those Zip taps where I was working last year

    Reliability was really not up to much - generally, at least 1 (of 3 in common use) was U/S at any time.

    I'm really not convinced they boil water, either - I think it';s just "hot" by the time it gets out of the spout...


  15. PhilipN Silver badge

    Missing link

    Do not forget that the POURING of the boiling water is critical. Hold the tip of the kettle as close as possible to the tea LEAVES - while the water is still bubbling like mad - so that boiling water hits the leaves. Otherwise the water is obviously less than boiling when poured from a height - which is how I make coffee when I am impatient to get the first fix of the day. (WTF does "off-the-boil" mean anyway?)

    Similarly pour as fast as the physics of the size and shape of the spout and the receptacle will permit without causing danger.

    You're welcome.

    I presume that boiling water is necessary to break open the cellular structure of the leaves but perhaps some smart Alec sorry biochemist could tell us.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: Missing link

      Def. not - the water should be a few degrees BELOW boiling point to avoid burning the leaves.

      Boil the kettle, count to ten, or maybe twelve depending on the variety, and only then start pouring.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RIGHT - Re: Missing link @The First Dave

        This is a vital detail - my tea packets state, (black tea): "Use freshly boiled water", i.e. not actually boiling. I wait until the kettle goes 'quiet' again after boiling.

        And another thing - boil the water ONCE only - never boil the same water again for tea !

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RIGHT - Missing link @The First Dave

          And as for adjusting temperature by adding cold (unboiled) water - yuck ! Just no, no and no !

          If people want to be fussy about temperature, why couldn't manufacturers put a thermometer in the kettle which shows you the temperature as it cools after boiling ? Maybe it should beep when it reaches the specific, desired temperature. Hmm ... maybe I should patent that !

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. TheDataRecoverer
    Thumb Up


    Well, we had a Quooker as a "luxury item" in our kitchen refit way back in 2008....& what a great device!

    Morning tea ready "instantly". Safe to use (twist and push tap), we love it!

    I measured the energy used with a meter - the kettle before, then the Quooker, and in our kitchen we found the Quooker was around 15-25% more energy efficient. The range is because we measured the kettle over 30 days in total, but for different periods (7 days, 16 days, then 7 days again) - overall it looked to me like the Quooker was around 21% more energy efficient.

    To be brutally honest, we were not desparately scientific about it - we didn't make absolutely certain we had the same numbers of cups of tea, was more a "quick test", really to find out whether our decision was better or worse for our energy cost (& ergo, the environment!).

    You could never justify it on raw economic is simply to expensive up front (although we paid way less than the price in this article!) is a luxury item.....but one we have never regretted lashing out on!

    I guess we should think about replacing the filter now....but it still makes great tea, so maybe I'll leave it another year or six.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quooker.....brilliant!

      I also have a Quooker - bought it for about £600 IIRC and it is brilliant - one of the few taps that dispenses 100 deg water as it keeps it under pressure at 110 degrees apparently - it splutters somewhat when it comes out - I have not burnt myself yet (3 years so far) but it does steam my glasses up quite a bit.

      On the efficiency point - I believe they claim that if you don't draw any water it averages out at 10W - not sure I believe this, but it is very well insulated and unlike filling a kettle you waste less.....when we had a kettle my wife would always moan that I overfilled it - she never use to put enough water in for me - the Quooker has solved this 'issue' but rather an expensive solution!

      Now, how do we solve that World hunger problem and the situation in the Middle East.........

      Anon as I realise there are far more important things in the World.

  17. Vince

    What you should have reviewed is the Sage Tea Maker - £170 now (was £199).

    If you're having the perfect brew, it should be from loose leaf, and this thing makes the best tea imaginable. Perfectly brewed every time.

    Is it expensive... of course. Does it make excellent tea.... yes.

    I also own the smart Toaster (perfect, evenly cooked toast, bagels or whatever, and it really does get it right), and the smart microwave ... no longer is it "how long" but "what is it" - and it sorts the rest. Importantly includes: "Popcorn" and "Reheat Pizza" (how many slices?) functionality. The IT person's friend.

    1. EssEll

      Spot the freelancer...

  18. Anonymous Coward

    The old ones are the best.

    I much preferred my Goblin teasmade, unfortunately she left me.

  19. Stoneshop


    Seasoned tea drinkers will also know that green tea should be brewed at 80°C, Oolong at 90°C and instant coffee at 95°C.

    Instant coffee should not be brewed. It should be incinerated.

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