The Sage Tea Maker designed by Heston Blumenthal
You’d think that a thing like a kettle would be beyond improvement; it boils water and that’s all it does and all it needs to do. Of course you can make a kettle look more stylish, and there are some fancy examples out there, but the invention of the cordless kettle was probably the last innovation to come along since the first kettles that turned themselves off.
Actually in our household when I was growing up the self-cancelling kettle was a thing of wonder, we’d switch it on just to see if it really would turn itself off and, when it did, turn and soundlessly gape at each other in wonder. You have to remember of course there were only three TV channels back then so kids had to find amusement where they could.
So kettles can’t be improved? Well yes they can, stick Heston Blumenthal in front of one and he’s immediately thinking ‘what if’ and the result of such thinking is the Sage Tea Maker
The clue is in the name, we saw one demo’d, along with a bunch of other Sage products designed by Heston, a few weeks back, and although all the gadgets were very interesting, the Tea Maker piqued our interest most so we asked for a loaner to review.
The first thing you notice is that it’s heavy. The German glass is quality, as it needs to be with a £199 price tag. It is of course cordless and the base station has a brushed steel look and is liberally bestowed with LCD display, buttons and lights. You don’t just turn this thing on, you programme it.
There is a simple plan here. Different teas require different brew times and different water temperatures. The Tea Maker sorts the latter out by having a thermostatic switch in the jug. At 100C (for black tea) the switch goes and the water stops boiling. Then comes the bit which will have new generations of small boys enthralled, the stainless steel tea basket filled with loose tea lowers itself into the water as if by magic, but in fact by hidden magnets, and sits there brewing for the pre-set time (strong, medium or weak).
At the end of that time, the basket rises back up again slowly and impressively. Your tea is ready and a ‘ping’ alerts you, that’s if you weren’t already sitting with your nose pressed to the glass breathlessly watching. The machine can be programmed to ‘keep warm’ so that even if you do wander off and come back a few minutes later the tea will still be hot and can’t be over brewed as the tea leaves are out of the water.
The Tea Maker has presets for perfectly brewed green tea, white tea, infusions etc. and can be custom programmed to your own preferences if, that is, you think you know better than Heston.
It also has a ‘boil water only’ pre-set so you can use it as a normal kettle. Perhaps best of all the Sage Tea Maker has a built in clock so you can set the thing up before bedtime and wake up to freshly brewed, non-stewed, piping hot tea. Now that’s progress on the old Teasmade idea.
If we had any criticisms it would be that black tea actually ends up a bit too hot, scalding in fact as it has no chance to cool down, and the stainless steel basket stains pretty much immediately with tannin and needs constant scrubbing to keep it looking nice. Oh and did we mention that the Tea Maker costs £199?
But these are minor gripes to the person that is a true tea fan and has the money to spare to indulge their passion. The Tea Maker’s build quality, as well as its cleverness, justifies the price tag just about and if there’s nothing on the telly you can always have fun making some tea.