Why it is always time for tea, a look at alternatives to traditional kettles currently on the market, and a peek into the future of tea-making.
Read time: 4 minutes
Today we are talking about a great British institution, the cup of tea.
Never is there a moment where one is not suitable. It oils every social situation, makes everything better, chills you out, gees you up. It’s always tea o’clock.
In recent years there seems to have been an absolute explosion in the number of kettles on the market as they become not merely a device for warming water, but also a statement of style and taste that takes pride of place on your worktop.
My favourite recently is this collaboration between Dolce & Gabbana and Smeg that elevates kitchenware into an art form.
However you style it though, kettles are still essentially just a heavy bucket of very hot liquid which you have to lift, move, fill and pour. Should you have any difficulties with strength, grip, vision, coordination, it is a bit of a hazard to say the least.
To facilitate our insatiable lust for this glorious beverage, there have been a number of innovations to help make the tea-making process easier, including the kettle tipper. These help take the strain when lifting and are also great if you have any problems with vision because you always know where you’re pouring. The drawback with them is that they don’t fit all kettles and could be a bit of a sore thumb in your beautiful, design-led kitchen.
One product which has proved a favourite with our testers’ is the Breville Hot Cup. I also own one of these and can wholeheartedly say I am in love with it. I live with a Yorkshireman and his tea intake is quite astounding, verging on worrying, so much so you will find ‘tea overdose’ and ‘how much tea is healthy?’ in my Google search history. The Breville responds to this pressure everyday, day in day out. Sure it won’t fill a pan, a hot water bottle or large teapot in one go, which can be irritating now and again, but you work around it as it only takes 2 shots at 30 second’s a pop.
It actually weighs a lot more than a standard size kettle, which is important when it comes to time to fill it up (but it is easy to fill using a lighter weight jug, which is what many people do anyway to make their kettle more useable for them anyway. Plus, due to its larger capacity it lasts 2 days for me (2 hours for my other half…)). So as long as you know its limitations it is a joy. Any negatives are far outweighed by the fact you can have tea in 30 seconds at the press of a button before you’ve even got your milk and biscuits ready. It’s also better than a traditional kettle environmentally and saves you pennies on your electricity bill as it only boils the amount you need. As an added extra, it glows blue when you boil it too, which is very pleasing.
If you’ve got £600 lying around, an even better option is a hot water tap. It sounds super expensive (which it is) but arguably if you struggle with a kettle, and even if you don’t, this is a great investment to make life easier. These taps, tank and boiler combos can be plumbed in by a regular plumber and allow you to have boiling water come out of your taps on demand just like your regular hot and cold water. Alternatively you can have them as an extra tap, separate to your existing taps, which is also marginally cheaper. You don’t need to worry about accidentally scalding yourself as they have fairly substantial safety features built in; the boiling water control is completely separate, you have to press as well as turn the control, they can’t be left running, and the taps are insulated so that the metal doesn’t get hot. These taps store a tank of pre-heated water below your sink so cost around 3p per day to run (similar to leaving a 40w lightbulb on all day), but it is still better than boiling a kettle multiple times (6p a pop). I did the maths on our household tea habit and I think this would save us about £70 a year on electricity on making beverages alone. Scary.
Lots of places do these taps now, but some are quite fiddly to turn on or need a fair amount of grip strength. However, Insinkerator (we love their name!) do a really nice range of colours and finishes, with lever taps which are great for easy operation.
Miito, now this is the future, plain and simple. Strap in to have your mind blown. Boil your water by essentially sticking a pencil in whatever cup or pot you need for a few seconds. No more heavy lifting of overfilled kettles, no more wasting energy, just boil what you need in the vessel of your choice and look super cool at the same time. Unsurprisingly it recently exceeded its crowd funding target by a county mile and is currently being manufactured, if a little behind schedule. Designed by Nils Chudy from The Netherlands, it has won the James Dyson Award which encourages people to use engineering to think differently about the challenges we face today. You can pre-order and read more about it on his Kickstarter page. It looks gorgeous too, and its wand like appearance does make you feel a bit like a wizard when you use it. We can’t wait to get our hands on one so we can play with it properly; we hope it is as good as it looks.
Not only are these kettle alternatives an energy revolution, they are a revelation for people less able to manoeuvre traditional kettles and we applaud those looking to make the ritual of tea drinking even more prolific.