Pop quiz hot shot! What could be more awesome than a great teapot? Or even a great kettle? How about a 4 liter water boiler which uses little energy and has variable temperature for use with different teas!?! Resplendent. That's the word I'll use to describe this device. If I could give this a 4.5, I would seriously think about doing it.
|Accessory||VE Hybrid Water
Boiler & Warmer
Zojirushi makes some mighty fine products. From rice cookers to lunch boxes and thermoses I've owned a number of their products over the years. This water boiler unit is quite possibly the finest of them all.
With a 4 liter capacity the VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer unit holds enough water for your average enthusiast. Some of us who drink more liquid than we should... might prefer a more industrial 8 or 10 liters. It's not a quibble. It's actually just about the perfect capacity.
Initially I set this unit up at home. I quickly realized that being at the office during the day wouldn't give me the most time to use and review this product. So I took it to work. And there... well... it's flourished! It grew a little community about it. In the two months it's been in our break room, I've noticed dozens of people using the device for everything from hot cocoa to the Lipton tea the company provides to making hot oatmeal in the morning. It really is neat to watch it all take life.
Once in the office I began using the temperature selections to help me brew a better cup of tea throughout the day. It's also where I take a lot of my notes from tastings for the reviews here on Tea-Guy. It's a simple environment where the device gets used frequently. I have noticed a great deal of additional nuance in my teas given that straight tap water has quite a few minerals and chemicals in it, including fluoride. Regardless the device offers a much happier option when compared to water pushed through a a coffee maker without grounds in it where it sits for hours in a yellow tinged pot.
The temperature options on this unit are 175, 195 and 208 degrees Fahrenheit. These are best for Japanese green teas, Oolong teas and Black teas respectively. Some might disagree in that darker greens might like a slightly higher temperature with lighter greens (like a Chinese green) might actually prefer lower than 175. Regardless, it doesn't hit the best range for white teas and that should be noted and it's the only reason why this unit isn't a 5 on a 5 scale.
I particularly like the auto-sealing vacuum. You need to manually unlock the vacuum before you can dispense any water. This is a great way to conserve energy since this unit uses the vacuum to keep the water warm and only re-boils once the water cools to more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit below the selected target. You can always re-boil manually if you like, but I've found letting the unit handle it is really the best way to go.
The unit plays a little tune when the water is finished boiling. It's nice to not have to check back every minute or two to see if the water is ready. There's also a nice water level indicator running up the front side of the unit. It's pretty accurate until you get to the bottom of the barrel. But at that point the unit has probably played its little tune again so you know it's time for a refill.
The power connector on the unit is magnetic, like the ones on Apple's MacBook lineup. It comes off easily enough when you try to remove it, but it's snug enough that it doesn't become disconnected under normal use. This unit gets refilled maybe three times a day during the week, so it sees a lot of regular use and is obviously easy enough to operate... as I haven't heard anyone ask me yet.
I have not had to clean the unit, but the instructions indicate it to be fairly straight forward. Wipe it down, run some vinegar water through the unit, run clean water through the unit, you're good to go. I haven't had any issues with it either. Very promising.
- 4 liters is just enough water for your average tea enthusiast.
- Automatic re-boil is a life saving feature!
- Front-side water-level indicator is extremely handy.
- Vacuum sealed temperature control saves energy.
- Doesn't break under heavy use.
- Decently stylish for an office break room.
- Doesn't offer temperature option suitable for white teas
- A larger storage tank would be a nice-to-have.
- The tune that's played can be a little loud in a quiet workplace.
I've quickly found this device an indispensable member of my team at work. It puts in hours, never complains, and let's you know the water is ready by playing a little classical music jingle. I can't recommend this unit enough. You can pick one up over at Amazon for less than $200.00 USD now. It's a pretty great deal!