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Mr. Coffee Tea Maker and Kettle review: With its steep timer and brewing modes, this is no basic tea kettle

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Mr. Coffee Tea Maker and Kettle

(Part #: BVMC-HTKSS200)
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The Good For just a little bit more than a basic electric kettle, the Mr. Coffee Tea Maker matches water temperature with specific types of tea and keeps tabs on steeping time. The appliance is also compact occupying less kitchen counter space, and is artfully styled.

The Bad The Mr. Coffee Tea Maker sometimes overshoots its target brewing temperature, and its lack of a display can be confusing. The brewer isn't fully automatic and requires you to add and remove tea leaves by hand.

The Bottom Line With presets for brewing tea at ideal temperatures and an internal steep timer, the Mr. Coffee Tea Maker does more than merely boil water, but this is no fully automatic tea dream machine.

6.8 Overall
  • Performance 7.0
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Maintenance 6.0

I can't hide the fact that I love to drink coffee -- a lot. Of course, this doesn't mean I can't appreciate a quality cup of tea. Compared with making acceptable drip brew, however, correctly brewing tea is a lot more complicated. Aside from a wide range of recommended steep times, proper tea creation also calls for different water temperatures depending on the type of leaf you're using. Here to help is the $100 Mr. Coffee Tea Maker and Kettle. Equipped with intelligent modes for preparing popular tea varieties, this machine simplifies this tricky process and for less than many competing products.

Going beyond the basic on-or-off function of budget electric kettles, the Mr. Coffee Tea Maker has an integrated steep timer and metal infuser basket for loose leaf teas. Both features transform it into very user-friendly device, more so than even the impressive $300 Oxo Barista Brain 12-cup Brewing System . Of course, for serious tea brewing technology at home, you can always splurge on the $250 Breville Tea Maker. Fully programmable, Breville's fancy tea machine also targets the chai set with its motorized steeping action and adjustable water temperature.

A compact yet capable kettle

The Mr. Coffee Tea Maker and Kettle bears little or no resemblance to a drip coffee machine and as such doesn't require bulky hardware for flushing hot water through coffee grounds. Neither does it use separate containers to hold water and brewed liquids, nor does it have any kind of display.

As a result the gadget is quite compact, measuring just 10.1 inches tall by 6.8 inches wide and 7.8 inches deep. With these pint-size dimensions, it certainly won't be hard to find a spot on your kitchen counter for the Tea Maker.

The Mr. Coffee Tea Maker and Kettle is quite compact.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The uncomplicated appliance consists of just two main parts: a flat base and an electric kettle which rests on top of it. Vaguely square-shaped but with softly rounded edges and curves plus a sloped underside, the base has a decidedly artful appearance. At the center of the base's top surface you'll find a circular socket that serves as both a cradle for the Tea Maker's glass kettle and the power source for the carafe's internal electronics.

This glass container is on the small side, with a maximum recommended water capacity of 8 cups (40 ounces). Next to the gargantuan Oxo Barista Brain 12-cup brewer, which maxes out at a sizable 60 ounces, the Tea Maker seems practically lilliputian. Breville's own Tea Maker device can hold slightly more water as well (51 ounces).

There are multiple brew modes for different types of tea.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Despite being petite, the Mr. Coffee Tea Maker packs in plenty of brewing capabilities. Placed in a ring around the kettle and running along the front edge of the base are a series of six buttons. These circular, metallic keys either command the Tea Maker to heat its water supply to the boiling point (212 degrees Fahrenheit) or to hit a variety of temperature presets.

The Mr. Coffee Tea Maker works a basic kettle, too.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Specifically, they include "Black/Herbal" (205 degrees F), "Oolong" (195 F), "White" (185 F), and "Green" (175 F). All these buttons, with the exception of the "Stop/Off" key, glow or flash in a cool hue of blue when activated. The Stop button also shines red when any of the water-heating modes is engaged.

Boiling and brewing

In theory, using the Mr. Coffee Tea Maker is straightforward. Simply fill the glass kettle with fresh, cold water and decide which tea leaf you'd like to brew. For instance if you're in the mood for the caffeine and flavor punch of black tea, press the appropriately labelled button. The key will then glow a solid blue while the heating element inside the kettle base switches on. Simultaneously the Stop button pulses red, letting you know it's there to shut the heat off if necessary.

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