By August 14, 2007

Upton Tea Imports multi-temperature electric tea kettle

Ever since seeing one (out of stock) on Adagio.com, I’ve been on the lookout for an adjustable temperature electric tea kettle. The idea of a mult-temperature kettle intrigued me because different drinks require different temperatures. 160 – 180F for white and green teas, 190F for Oolong tea, and 212F for black teas, herbal teas and coffee. The vast majority of electric kettles, especially in the US, are set for one temperature only, which is 212F. Not bad for when I drag out the French press, but way too hot for the white and greens I like to drink. I’ve had to resort to playing games such as listening to the sound of the water starting to boil, or the appearance of the bubbles on the inside of the pot. Most of the time, I don’t even care and just steep the tea in water that is too hot.

Unfortunately, Adagio’s UtiliTEA kettle has been out of stock since December of last year. The only reasons I could dig up were production and quality control issues. Not sure if either of those are correct; the important thing is that I’ve been on their auto-notify list for over eight months, every expected restock date has been pushed back. I thought I was screwed, and was about to write a rant here on Gibberish about it when I found out about the Upton Tea Imports variable temperature electric kettle.

The Upton Tea Imports kettle has two major advantages over the UtiliTEA: it’s less expensive, and it’s in stock. At $37, the Upton was just cheap enough for me to give it a try. The Upton kettle is very similar to, if not identical to, the UtiliTEA. The carafe is stainless steel, with a black plastic handle and spout. The carafe has a heating element inside. The base has the temperate dial and the on-off rocker. Fill the carafe up to the indicated fill line with fresh cold water, put the carafe on the base, set the temperature, depress the rocker. Party time. A light on the front of the base indicates the pot is working. Expect a full carafe to hit 212 in about two minutes. I haven’t tested the exact time yet.

The electric tea kettle is a simple contraption, and does what it says: makes water of varying temperature. I am very pleased with it, especially the green side of me who hated running a stove top burner for several minutes just to make a single serving of tea. The Upton isn’t large enough to do a full large tea pot, but there’s plenty of water for my French press and morning helping of oatmeal.

I wouldn’t be me without griping about something. The variable temperature kettle’s cord is too short. The controls should be more centralized. The power indicator is opposite the on-off rocker, and due to the short cord I can’t always tell if I’ve turned the unit on. I would like to hear a chime or buzzer when the pot finishes. All you hear right now is the solid “click” of the on-off switch resetting. Like my stove top tea kettle before it, I’ve learned to listen to the sounds the Upton makes. When the water stops rapidly boiling, it’s about finished. Unfortunately this technique doesn’t work when I’m heating water to a lower temperature.

I like my hot beverages hot. I’ve found that the lower end of the white/green tea spectrum is too cold for me. This isn’t the Upton’s fault, but if I steep the tea at 160, the drink is tepid by the time I am ready to start sipping. I drink tea when I’m relaxing, I don’t need to feel like I have to chug my peony tea before it gets lukewarm.

If you are a serious tea or French press coffee drinker, I highly recommend the Upton. I believe the price is reasonable, and they appear to have plenty of stock. I wish the controls were laid out a little better, and I wish the kettle had a buzzer so I wouldn’t have to stick around in the kitchen waiting for it to finish. Construction seems good, and my order with Upton was processed promptly.

Upton Tea Imports multi-temperature electric tea kettle, I dial you up to 212 and award thee
Four out of five STFU mugs!

full STFU mug full STFU mug full STFU mug full STFU mug empty STFU mug

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3 Comments on "Upton Tea Imports multi-temperature electric tea kettle"

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  1. D Ebdon says:

    Coffee should not be brewed at 100C!

  2. D Ebdon says:

    81 to 90°C depending on the type, coarseness and age of the coffee grounds.