If you enjoy a good cuppa, you'll know that loose-leaf tea offers far superior quality to tea bags. But if you're brewing up a storm for a family or a group of friends, individual tea balls or strainers may not cut the mustard leaf.

So we ask if you'd be better off piling your pennies together to invest in the Breville Tea Maker, so that it can do all the work for you.

A magic brew

When teas are steeped for the right amount of time and at just the right temperature, it brings out the absolute best in both flavour and aroma, and Breville promises to deliver just that with the Tea Maker BTM800 ($300). 

The Tea Maker is an automatic brewing machine that finally puts tea drinkers on an even footing with home-espresso-making coffee fiends.

You're sure to find your perfect brew with Breville's the Tea Maker. It has:

  • Six tea types (green, herbal, black, oolong, white and custom), and
  • four strength settings (strong, medium, mild and custom)

How to use the Breville the Tea Maker

  • As a rule of thumb, you should use one scoop of tea leaves per cup (generally 250mL).
  • The tea type you select will determine the brew temperature, while the tea strength determines the brewing time.
  • A temperature sensor detects when the set temperature is reached, which triggers the tea basket to automatically lower into the water.
  • Once the basket hits the bottom of the jug, brewing begins.
  • The progress of your cuppa is tracked on an LCD screen.
  • At the end of the brew time, the basket automatically lifts out of the water and the tea is ready to be poured. Voila!

The body of the unit is mostly glass, so you can watch the whole process unfold before your eyes. Its stainless steel base and LCD display screen also let you keep track of the process, and the series of buttons that let you control cuppa creation are straightforward and easy to use.

The Tea Maker can also be used as an ordinary kettle; it holds 1.5L for boiling water and 1.2L for tea making. Compared with other kettles we've tested, the Tea Maker is just OK as far as boiling time goes, taking more than three minutes to boil one litre of water. But then again, the whole-tea making process is complete in about five minutes, with quite a large amount of tea prepared and ready to pour in that time.

It also has a "keep warm" function, so you can keep the tea or heated water warm for up to an hour. Don't forget though, the brewed tea will continue to develop in flavour over the hour, and may end up stronger than you like.

You might find that smaller tea leaves can make their way through the filter of the tea basket, and even though there's a second filter at the spout of the jug, small bits can still get through both filters and into your cup. This may be great news for your fortune teller, but isn't necessarily a nice addition to your breakfast. Also remember it's important to clean the Tea Maker after each use. Once the lid and tea basket are removed, the opening is easily large enough to fit your hand in for cleaning.

CHOICE verdict

At $300 it's a pretty expensive benchtop appliance, but if you're always brewing tea with loose leaves instead of tea bags you might be interested in checking it out. It's especially useful when entertaining a large number of tea drinkers, and is perfect for a family or in an office setting.