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Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by looseTman » Sep 2nd 13 9:47 pm

We currently have a classic stove-top stainless-steel copper-bottom Revere whistling kettle.

I want to purchase a variable-temp electric kettle for both western & Gong Fu brewing.

Two examples:
- TeaVivre recommends 176, 185, 194, 205, 212 F for their various types of teas. http://www.teavivre.com/info/recommend-brewing-guide/
- Butiki recommends 10 different temperatures from 160 to 212*F.

After considering several models, I’m torn between the Bonavita Gooseneck and the Zojirushi Hybrid, which features vacuum insulation for maximum energy efficiency (Just 17 watts to keep 4 liters at 195 degrees), built-in timer (Handy for breakfast). However, it only provides a choice of: 175°F, 195°F, 208°F and Vacuum / Reboils to 212°F.

The Bonavita Gooseneck looks to be an excellent choice as it provides variable temp control in 1 degree increments from 140 to 212*F plus a controlled pour.

I've searched TC and read the threads for both models and would greatly value your thoughts.

- Are there other models we should consider?

Having to use a stove-top kettle and a thermometer for each infusion of Gong Fu brewing is obviously not too convenient.

Thanks! :D

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by debunix » Sep 2nd 13 9:53 pm

I love my Pino kettles--I've got three of the 'digital kettle pro', one for each of two offices and one for home use, and really the onlly reason to consider adding a bonavita gooseneck to the collection is the small spout for more controlled pouring into small pots/gaiwans/shibos. The Pinos allow you to set a wider range of temps--105-207 degrees, plus a setting for straight up boiling--than even the bonavita, which has a mininum temp setting of 140 degrees. If you drink a lot of gyokuro, you might appreciate that lower temp range in the Pino. It doesn't have any insulation either, however.

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by Poohblah » Sep 2nd 13 9:57 pm

Get the gooseneck.

You don't need a kettle with precision temperature settings. Here's why:
  • The settings aren't always very accurate. With my electric kettle, for instance, the registered temperature varies with the amount of water in the kettle and altitude. Much more accurate is an external thermometer.
  • You don't need to be exact with your temperature settings. Trust me, if you're off by a few ˚F for your morning breakfast brew, you won't notice it.
  • You don't even need a thermometer. With a little practice, it's really quite easy to get water to a specific temperature with one of these three methods: Watching the size of the bubbles in the kettle; listening to the noise and pitch of the kettle; bringing the water to a boil and letting it cool in a cup for a predetermined amount of time.
So why the gooseneck? I've never used it, but its advantage appears to be a very precise pour, which is quite handy for gongfu brewing.

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by looseTman » Sep 2nd 13 10:08 pm

debunix,

Thanks for your reply. I'm not familiar with Pino kettles. I'll check them out.

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by looseTman » Sep 2nd 13 10:21 pm

Poohblah,

Thanks for your recommendations.
  • I suspect you're correct for many kettles.
    Bonavita claims their digital temp control is "Accurate to +/- 2° F" http://www.bonavitaworld.com/products/kettle5.asp
  • Understood.
  • Yes, I can see how those 3 methods may work well. However, I currently lack the experience to correlate them to specific temperatures.
Yes, I've also read a gooseneck is well-suited to gongfu brewing.

Thanks again!

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by Poohblah » Sep 2nd 13 11:33 pm

I can understand if you want an electric kettle with fine-grained temperature control. I started out with one as well. However, I quickly stopped using the temperature control and opted for other means of getting my water to the right temperature. Also, I think there are more important things to focus on than precise water temperature, like the quality of the water and the quality of the leaves you are using. I just wanted to point out that built-in temperature control may not be as handy as you expect :mrgreen:

The pino kettles seem pretty popular around here (or maybe Debunix is just really outspoken about them :D :P ), and the gooseneck has been getting a lot of attention as well. I would also be interested in testing out this glass kettle: http://www.capresso.com/water-kettle-fr ... C100.shtml And a third option, also tempting, is to get a hot plate and a nice Chinese-style glass kettle, or if I feel like spending a lot of money, a nice authentic tetsubin :mrgreen:

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by looseTman » Sep 3rd 13 12:10 am

Leaf & water quality:
  • We're currently using tea from Rishi, TeaVivre, Verdant, & Zen Tea Life.
  • I've already given very careful consideration & effort to H2O quality and it's now the best it can be for our location.
I'll also take a look at Capresso.

Thanks again for all your suggestions. :D

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by Chip » Sep 3rd 13 12:18 am

The Capresso is pretty cool, buttttt ...

When I purchased one a several years ago there was a thick bead of silicone around the dome that houses the heating element in direct contact with the water. This may or may not bother some people ...

The dome must be completely covered and then some as you do have to heat up a fairly sizable volume of water.

Also, mine completely died at around 95 days, the store's return policy was 90 days but they refunded anyway which saved me from having to deal with a return to manufacturer.

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by Joel Byron » Sep 3rd 13 12:30 am

I use a glass kettle so I can see the bubbles rising. Once you get used to your particular kettle, you'll find that you can get within a certain temp range by looking at the bubbles. At lower temps, as for green tea, I use a thermometer. I have a digital cooking thermometer I stick in the spout of the kettle. If I'm making green tea and I let the kettle go a bit over temp, I pour some water into my cup and let it cool before pouring into the teapot/gaiwan.

The glass doesn't have nucleation points so the bubbles don't really get going until around 200F. But once they start, there are about 3 stages that increase in intensity. Small, occasional bubbles that you can hear, 200F. More constant small bubbles, 205-208F. Then a full on roiling boil, 212F.

The only thing I dislike is that the glass doesn't hold heat as well as a metal kettle will. But, it presumably doesn't change the taste of the water(for better or worse). And it's cheaper than a tetsubin or one of the higher end electric kettles. I'd love to own a tetsubin though :D

This is the one I have: http://tinyurl.com/qgrq799
The pic is in black and white. Mine has a natural wood handle and lid knob.

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by GuyWan » Sep 3rd 13 12:37 am

I have a zojirushi boiler. It has worked fine 24/7 for the past 12 months and I find that the displayed temperature is fairly accurate. Yet, I have been thinking about getting the Bonavita Gooseneck kettle or something similar for 2 reasons:

1) I find that using the zojirushi boiler directly to fill the gaiwan or teapot during gong fu tea is awkward and inelegant. But it is certainly fine for a quick cup of tea.

2) An alternative is to first fill a pitcher from the Zojirushi boiler and then fill the gaiwan or teapot with the pitcher. Using this method, however, I find that the temperature of the water can sometimes be much lower than the boiler's temperature by the time it hits the leaves. So by using an intermediate vessel between the boiler and brewing vessel, you lose all the benefits of having preset temperatures on the boiler.

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by looseTman » Sep 3rd 13 1:10 am

Chip wrote:The Capresso is pretty cool, buttttt ...

When I purchased one a several years ago there was a thick bead of silicone around the dome that houses the heating element in direct contact with the water. This may or may not bother some people ...

The dome must be completely covered and then some as you do have to heat up a fairly sizable volume of water.

Also, mine completely died at around 95 days, the store's return policy was 90 days but they refunded anyway which saved me from having to deal with a return to manufacturer.
Hi Chip,
  • Does the Bonavita have any similar silicone considerations?
Life is complicated enough w/o having to contend with preventable reliability / premature failure issues.
  • What are the most reliable brands?
  • Are there any good choices from the USA, Europe, or Japan?
Thanks!

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by looseTman » Sep 3rd 13 1:20 am

Hi Joel,

Your Yama Northwest has is an attractive choice with several positive attributes. I can see that there are many considerations based on the type of kettle. A tetsubin or one of the higher end electric kettles is probably not in our current budget either.

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by looseTman » Sep 3rd 13 1:30 am

Hi GuyWan,

Thanks for sharing your experience of using a Zojirushi for gong fu tea. You make a very good point about the loss of water temperature.

I too have had a similar experience brewing western-style with a tea mug, Finum basket, & a DAVIDsTEA digital thermometer/timer. Rapidly boiling water poured into a room temp mug quickly drops to 195*F.

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by looseTman » Sep 3rd 13 3:56 am

I welcome any other thoughts or suggestions.

Thanks! :D

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Re: Which Variable-Temp Electric Kettle?

by HillaryClinton » Sep 7th 13 10:58 pm

So I am almost about to give up on finding a variable temp kettle that has 0 plastic in it and is not terrible qulaity.

Does anyone know if this is a good one? I returned two so far on my quest to get a kettle without plastic...now I am looking outside of my zone of sites like Amazon.

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Kamjove- ... 10585.html

Anyone use that? I feel like it might be my last resort....

Or this one:

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Kamjove- ... 79315.html

I can't tell much a difference.