A relatively new addition to the tea kettle market, the automatic tea brewer is a high-tech appliance geared toward tea enthusiasts. These machines are designed to perfectly infuse a specific type of tea such as green, black or oolong by bringing the water to the ideal temperature and steeping the leaves for the exact amount of time needed.
Our Best Reviewed Breville Tea Maker BTM800XL (Est. $250) is the undisputed champion in this category. For the high price, you get the delight of watching the automated basket lift and lower into the jug for maximum infusion. Experts and owners alike say they frequently hang around the kitchen just to watch the machine work its magic. The controls feature presets for a number of teas and various levels of tea strength, but all specifications are easily overridden for a customized brew. Most users love this nifty product: It gets 4.6 stars out of 5 at Amazon.com and has a one-year warranty.
Although the Cuisinart PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper and Kettle TEA-100 ($130) gets poorer ratings -- 3.7 stars out of 5 at Amazon, and a reviewer at Examiner.com calls it difficult to clean -- it's about half the price of the Breville and comes with a three-year warranty. This kettle doesn't have an automated basket, instead instructing the user when to manually lower and lift the basket for optimum infusion based on your selected tea type. Some users find this inconvenient, but others love the flexibility. "This is only a minor annoyance, but it does mean that you can basically get the same results [as] buying an electronic kettle," says an Amazon.com user.
For about $100 less, the Presto Heat ‘n Steep Electric Tea Kettle (Est. $30) may be a worthy alternative, but expert and owner reviews are difficult to find. It appears to have the same basic functions as pricier automatic tea brewers -- it heats and steeps the tea in the same pot -- and features a built-in thermometer and timer.
These tea-brewing machines may be a good investment for avid tea drinkers who are passionate about brewing the perfect cup of tea. For those who simply want to reliably heat water, a conventional stovetop kettle like the Revere 2-1/3-Quart Whistling Tea Kettle will do the trick. But if you want the best high-quality tea brewer on the market, the acclaimed Breville Tea Maker BTM800XL is our top pick for its elegant design, easy-to-use functions and overall utility.