About as far from the advertised “perfect beverage” as one could get
Today I’ll be reviewing the Chefman 1.8-Liter Digital Electric Kettle, since I was gifted one for Xmas. The Chefman kettle can be purchased relatively cheaply at Target or Amazon. This device is designed primarily to be a water boiling kettle. The Chefman would be great for making hot chocolate or instant coffee in an office setting. It does come with a full-sized infuser basket so theoretically you can brew tea in it… However, doing so is a terrible idea and I will explain why.
Unlike water boiling kettles that follow the Breville auto-lift basket design, the Chefman requires you to insert the brew basket when the pot reaches boiling. For the sake of this review I attempted to do so and burned myself. I very much caution against doing so. In addition, the brew basket does not seat well into the kettle and very often falls into the basin, requiring you to first detach the metal basket from the plastic seat and then shimmy them both out of the basin sideways. This could not be done if the pot is even remotely warm.
Although the brew basket is full-length and extends nearly to the bottom of the basin, it’s quite narrow. Brewing 16 oz of water in the kettle with two heaping teaspoons of an herbal tea as I did here means about a half-centimeter of tea will remain above the water line and will not really infuse.
Additionally, the Chefman features a broad spout that remains open at all times. Thus in order to maintain correct water temperature for brewing say a black tea at 212F for 3 min, you somehow need to seal the spout. I used a deep saucepan to lay on the spout and cover the entire kettle during brewing. A rubber stopper cut to the exact shape of the spout would be best (but realistically it’s not worth the effort as you’ll see).
All of the above going perfectly, one should still be able to brew tea in the Chefman. However, this kettle will not reach 212F for more than a half of a second while boiling unless the water level is up near the max fill line. When I attempted to brew 16 oz of penta water, the kettle indicated it had finished boiling when the indicator read 209F and immediately switched to “warming” mode and the water started cooling.
After I’d inserted the brew basket, covered the kettle and set my timer, around 25 seconds had elapsed since the boil alarm. At that point I checked the temperature of the water with my laser thermometer and the highest reading I could get was 195F. Although green teas can be brewed at 195, black and herbal tisanes cannot. As no one would be brewing a full basin’s worth of tea (something like 12 or 14 cups?), there’s simply no way to correctly brew tea in this kettle. For the sake of completeness, after leaving water in kettle on “warming” mode for ~27 min, the water temperature had dropped to between 128-154F.
Of course, this is not to say one cannot brew tea with this water kettle. Supposing you use a tetsubin for infusion and you’ve done so enough times to know exactly where the water line ought to be during brewing, you could probably get away with boiling an entire kettle of water such that the temperature reaches 212F for more than a half of one second needed for pouring. However, since you don’t use tap water for correctly brewing tea, doing so with the Chefman would be an awful waste of expensive water and require a decent amount of skill and patience. Thus, I can only really recommend the Chefman for boiling water for non-tea making purposes. There are many other strong water kettles for brewing tea available (I have reviewed a couple of good ones including the very affordable Hamilton Beach Programmable 1.7 Liter Electric Kettle and the Cuisinart PerfecTemp), though perhaps not at Target.