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Breville One-Touch Tea Maker review: Pricey machine brews tea automatically and with robotic precision

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The Good The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker brews and steeps automatically. The Tea Maker also has presets to tackle a wide range of tea styles plus functions as a variable-temperature electric kettle.

The Bad Compared with other electric tea kettles, the Breville is expensive. The Tea Maker's carafe is only labeled in metric units.

The Bottom Line The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker is without a doubt the current pinnacle of automated loose-leaf brewers for the home but it comes with a luxury price to match.

8.3 Overall
  • Performance 8
  • Design 9
  • Features 8.5
  • Maintenance 8

Making delicious tea is challenging, especially if you stray beyond basic black leaves. You must account for tea type, steep time and water temperature to produce the best flavor possible. Luckily, there's one kitchen gadget which does an admirable job of automating these tasks, the $250, £375 (on Amazon), AU$300 Breville One-Touch Tea Maker.

Priced as much as premium drip coffee brewers, this machine is certainly no impulse buy. Of course no other electric tea brewer offers the same level of sophistication and controls, either. Besides preset modes for popular tea types, the machine can brew using custom parameters for target temperature and steep time that the Breville handles with robotic, motorized precision. In addition, the appliance is attractive, thoughtfully designed and easy to operate and clean. All these abilities uniquely qualify the Breville Tea Maker as the perfect, though expensive, kitchen companion for passionate tea drinkers.

Design

From the moment I laid eyes on the Breville Tea Maker, I knew that I gazed upon a pricey appliance. Clad in a skin of shiny stainless steel with sections crafted from tempered glass, plus a touch of tasteful grey polycarbonate, this machine strikes quite a handsome profile. Like the Mr. Coffee Tea Maker and Kettle and other similar products,the Breville's tea brewer consists of two main parts: a "power base" platform and an electric kettle carafe (Breville calls this a "Jug"). This jug sits on top the base and rests inside of a special cradle the platform's center. So positioned, the jug draws electricity from the base to power its internal heater.

The Breville Tea Maker has pricey metallic looks.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Unlike the Breville appliance, the body of the less expensive Mr. Coffee machine is constructed from cheaper plastic materials. Another difference between the two tea makers is that the Breville's base features a small LCD screen that displays pertinent info such as water temp, and brew time. By contrast, Mr. Coffee's gadget communicates its status merely by blinking lights and emitting cryptic electronic beeps. It's a design approach that's less than ideal since it's harder to tell what the device is doing at any given moment. On many occasions I lost track of exactly where the Mr. Coffee tea kettle was in its brewing process which is critical since you have to remove its tea basket yourself.

In terms of physical footprint, the Breville and Mr. Coffee products have practically the same compact dimensions. The Breville Tea Maker stands 10 inches tall by 6 inches wide with a depth of 8 inches (25 by 15 by 20cm). The two devices share an identical tea-making capacity as well, maxing out at 40 ounces (1.2L). Keep in mind that Breville's machine can ultimately boil more water when acting as an ordinary electric kettle (51 ounces, 1.5L).

There are plenty of brewing modes to choose from.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Close to completely automatic

The world has yet to see a totally automatic tea brewer, but the Breville Tea Maker is pretty darn close. Because it does much of the work for you, using and operating this gizmo is dead simple.

The first step is to remove the kettle's lid then pull the stainless steel tea basket out from inside the jug. The basket sports a handy ring on top to make the task painless. And instead of being physically fastened to the jug, the basket clings in place thanks to its own magnet and one inside the kettle's long post. It's a very slick touch that makes the basket a cinch to remove yet firmly stay put during brewing.

Add tea to the basket by hand.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Next comes the most manual aspect of using the Tea Maker, loading its basket with tea and its kettle jug with water. Decant your desired amount of water into the jug using the handle's volume markers as a guide. While these labels are nice to have, they're listed in mL units only -- which is fine if the metric system floats your boat.

I wish I could see the water level in ounces too since I'm more comfortable with these measures. To add tea simply scoop tea leaves into the basket (don't forget to remove and replace its lid) using the included spoon. With the ingredients present, you're ready to start brewing.

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