Monday, 10 June 2013
A Kettle For The Perfect Cuppa
Right back when I started this blog I wrote about water temperature and how important it is to get it right when making different cups of tea. Ever had a really bitter tasting cup of green tea? Chances are you've scalded the leaves. It's one of those things that sounds like it's just for people who are a little too serious about their tea-making (really, moi?) but it's actually something that anyone who drinks anything other than good old black tea needs to remember.
Another thing I feel pretty strongly about is the quality of the water. Living in a hard-water area (as many of us do) I always use a water filter - both for drinking cold and for making tea. This is not just to avoid de-scaling the kettle on a monthly basis but also because the tea just tastes much better with filtered water. So when I was contacted recently to ask if I'd be interested in trying a Morphy Richards water-filtering kettle, I was really excited to give it a try; especially as, due to the hot and cold water pipes being too close together somewhere in my house, I've a rather complicated system involving my filter jug and various glass bottles that ensures I don't have to run the tap for 2 minutes before I can pour myself a drink of cold water. Anything to simplify my water-processing/tea-making situation sounded like a good idea.
Having used the kettle for a few days now, I can confirm it's not just a good idea, it's a great idea. My main concern about the kettle was that it was going to be some big old ugly plastic jug but I was thrilled to see that the Accents filter kettle I was sent was a nice polished stainless steel which fits perfectly in my kitchen (they do also come in various colours and brushed stainless steel for the fingerprint averse). The kettle is a collaboration between Morphy Richards and Brita and uses the Maxtra filters that I was already familiar with from my water jug. So after plunging the filter into water to expel any air bubbles and running it through a couple of times, it was ready to use.
Inside the kettle is a "hopper" into which you pour the water and I had assumed that you would have to wait for it to filter through before turning on the kettle. But no: you can switch it on straight away and it starts heating the water immediately. I didn't actually time how long it took to boil, but to my non-scientific mind it felt pretty quick and certainly a bit faster than my ordinary kettle. All good so far, but what of the taste of the tea?
I have to say I was pretty stunned by how good my Laoshan green tea tasted. I mean it's always good but this was even better than usual. Given that I always filter my water before boiling it I hadn't expected the taste to be any different but somehow it was. I can only assume that although I tend to be pretty good about descaling my kettle, somewhere in there there's still some of the nasty white stuff hanging around. This cuppa was like the purest cup of tea I had ever made. Obviously, for the sake of thorough research, I made another cup; and then a cup or two of black tea, and then an oolong: they were all great. Every brew was so clear I could see straight to the bottom of my cup.
There are a few little niggles: I like an old-fashioned looking kettle and this is a modern-looking jug; and it's certainly a big old unit (inevitable given it's like the size of a normal kettle with a water filter on top). You also need to be careful not to fill up beyond the "max" line or else unfiltered water will tip over into your kettle. Another issue is that one fill of the hopper provides enough water for just over two mugs - or enough to fill my little teapot - but if you wanted to make a big pot or a number of mugs you would either have to add some more water during the boiling process or get into the habit of filling it up after you've emptied it so that it's good to go next time. Of course the upside of this is that it uses far less energy to heat a small amount of water and if you're only making a couple of mugs this is a good way to be reminded not to over-fill the kettle - but if, unlike me, you're someone who regularly makes lots of cups of tea (or coffee) at once then it's worth bearing in mind that you'll need to change the way you do things a bit.
Personally, I really like the kettle. It's been a week since I opened it and today I carried my lovely old-fashioned kettle up to the loft: it might look pretty but from a practical point of view it just can't compete with the Accents kettle. The simplicity of pouring tap water (even slightly warm tap water as comes out of my cold tap) into the kettle, switching it on and getting a perfectly clear, great-tasting cup of tea a couple of minutes later is hard to resist. And costing just under £50, the price is also in line with most other branded kettles and won't break the bank. So if you find yourself in the market for a new kettle, especially if you live in a hard-water area, I can really recommend you try one of these. I've only been using it a week and already I can't imagine going back to my complicated old system. It's a winner.