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UK freelance journalist and author Sean McManus

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Can I tell you about my new kettle?

27 November 2007

I hear about new technology at work every day, but the most impressive gadget I've seen lately is a kettle. But no ordinary kettle: it has a thermal layer, so it can keep the water hot for up to three hours. Boil the kettle, make a cup of tea and come back later on for more tea and the water is still hot! Amazing! You don't have to wait for it to boil again, or waste energy reheating.

As a man who rarely writes without a cup of camomile tea by my side, you can imagine how this has changed my life.

How did it take until 2007 for someone to market a kettle like that? It seems such an obvious idea now we know about it.

Sorry. Did that just happen? Did I just blog about a kettle?


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Every hotel room in Japan -- and I imagine every home -- has a squat electric water heater similar in shape to a slow-cooker. It takes a lot longer to boil water from cold than a British kettle (probably because at only 110V, you need more current for the same power, and typical Japanese circuits aren't built for that level of current) -- but it's designed to be kept on, using thermostatic control to keep the water at the right temperature.

Bear in mind, while English tea demands the hottest water you can get, green tea and coffee are both better made with water that's not quite boiled.

When an American visited our office, I facetiously pointed out the kettle, but to my surprise, he actually appreciated the help. "Oh yes, there's a think like that in my hotel room".

I'm quite keen on the newish Tefal Quick-Cup, that dispenses water past an element, giving you a mug of coffee-temperature water in 3 seconds, and heats no more. But I'm not keen on the price...
I tried Sean's kettle on Friday morning (that's right - Sean's actual kettle) and I wasn't convinced. The user interface wasn't at all inuitive - it took a few presses of what I guessed might be the 'on' button to get the thing boiling (and glowing blue). Also, once the kettle had boiled, I discovered that I had managed to put the lid on back-to-front. The lid is an unusually thick tilting affair, which when put on back to front made pouring the water difficult/dangerous. Even when put on the 'right' way round I found that the pouring spout was quite limited and took a while to fill the cup. Another feature (presumably due to the insulation) is that the water remains 'steamy' for far longer than it does with my normal kettle, making it hard to retain sight of the cup as I poured the water in. Was this thing ever 'road tested' under realistic conditions? (e.g. just after 7am in a dark unfamiliar kitchen, with a hangover...)
Sorry to hear you had trouble with it. I didn't realise the learning curve was so steep. The lid is rather tricky, but there is just one button that works first time for most people.
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