The Best Tea Maker


We tested some highly rated automatic tea makers and iced tea makers and selected the Breville – BTM500 as the best automatic tea maker for hot tea and the Takeya – 11171 as the best iced tea maker.

Our Top Choices

Best Overall


Breville

BTM500

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Budget Pick


WIllsense

KT-S1

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Best Iced Tea Maker


Takeya

11171

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We tested some highly rated automatic tea makers and iced tea makers and selected the Breville – BTM500 as the best automatic tea maker for hot tea and the Takeya – 11171 as the best iced tea maker.

We’ve used an electric tea kettle for years, but an automatic tea maker eliminates the fussiness from the tea-making process, especially if you brew loose tea leaves. The tea infuser is integrated into the kettle, so you simply push a couple of buttons, and in under 10 minutes, you have a perfectly steeped and piping hot cup of tea.

An iced tea maker funnels the hot tea into a pitcher of ice, and again, in a few minutes, you have a pitcher of iced tea to cool you off on a hot summer day.

Important features to consider

If you’re looking to buy an automatic tea maker for hot tea, the best ones have:

  • Programmed settings for your favorite type of tea, including brew temperature and time, and steep temperature steep time
  • A separate timer for alerting you when the water has reached optimal temperature for adding the tea and a second alert when the tea has finished steeping
  • Stainless steel trim can help match other kitchen appliances
  • A borosilicate glass pitcher, which can withstand extreme changes in temperature

1

Breville - BTM500: Best Overall

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Tea lovers wax poetic over the Breville – BTM500, and we understand why. It has five programmed settings for black, green, white, herbal and oolong teas, each of which has a different temperature. Black tea is pre-set at the highest temperature of 212°F, and green tea is at the lowest temperature of 175° F.

The Breville took about five minutes to heat water to the selected temperature, at which point it beeps three times and waits (patiently) for you to add tea to the infuser. No other tea maker we tested had this feature. Whereas they all beeped when it was time to add tea, we only had a few seconds to add tea before those kettles would shift into steeping mode.

The Breville gives you the best control. Once the tea is added, you select one of five steeping times from two to four minutes. Herbal tea needs the longest to steep for its full flavor to be released; black tea needs only two minutes. When your tea is fully steeped, the Breville alerts you with another beep, and it automatically shifts to keep-warm mode for 60 minutes.

Another feature unique to the Breville is its magnetic lid. When the tea is fully steeped, the infuser needs to be removed, or the tea will turn bitter from over-steeping. You simply push down on the lid, and it magnetically attaches to the infuser, so it can be lifted out without your touching it.

As usual with many Breville products, build quality is beautiful. The kettle is made of borosilicate glass and brushed stainless steel, so it’s both sturdy and pretty on your countertop.

The Breville makes everyday tea-making a pleasure. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and it makes a perfect cup of tea.

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Pros

  • Five accurate programs for brewing and steeping black, green, white, herbal and oolong teas
  • A countdown timer alerts you when it’s time to add tea and when your brew is fully steeped
  • Easy to use, easy to clean
  • High-end quality, made of borosilicate glass and stainless steel

Cons

  • More than double the price of other tea makers.

2

Willsense - KT-S1: Budget Pick

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The Willsense – KT-S1 isn’t as user-friendly as the Breville, but it still makes a terrific cup of tea. It has a similar pitcher, made of borosilicate glass and stainless steel, but its base feels less substantial than the Breville’s.

It has six programs for teas, brewing and steeping temperatures and times, which are selected from an LED panel with three different buttons. Programming took some trial and error, but we eventually got the hang of it.

The Willsense has an additional feature that many consumers love: it can be programmed up to 12 hours ahead. This means that you can program the Willsense the night before, so when you wake up, the water will be boiling, and you just add the tea.

At 1.7 liters (also marked in cups), the Willsense has a larger capacity than the Breville. Although it took over nine minutes for the full pot of water to heat to brewing temperature, the tea was well-steeped and flavorful.

Our only issue with the Willsense is that its keep-warm function isn’t automatic. Once it alerts you that the tea is ready, the keep-warm function needs to be manually programmed immediately afterward. There’s also an additional “lock” button for preserving the program you’ve selected.

The Willsense’s operation manual is woefully vague, and although Amazon refers you to the company’s website for full instructions, no such page exists. So you’ll need to figure out the complicated multi-button programming on your own. Once you do, it’s a very good and less-expensive option when compared to the Breville.

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Pros

  • Less than half the price of the Breville
  • Six fine-tuned and accurate programs for brewing and steeping
  • Sturdy, large-capacity pitcher made of borosilicate glass and stainless steel
  • Can be programmed up to 12 hours ahead

Cons

  • Complicated multi-button programming
  • Keep-warm function needs to be separately programmed after tea is ready

3

Takeya - 11171: Best Iced Tea Maker

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The Takeya – 11171 iced tea maker is simplicity itself. It’s a tall, narrow pitcher made of Tritan plastic — a durable, crystal-clear plastic used in food storage containers  — that resembles a Thermos.

Its tea infuser is attached to the lid, and after you’ve filled the pitcher half way with boiling water, you lower the infuser into it. Once the tea is done steeping, you lift the infuser out, and fill the pitcher with ice. Finally, you gently invert the pitcher a few times, which chills the ice in 30 seconds. You can either enjoy the tea immediately, or store the pitcher in the refrigerator.

The Takeya has a few excellent design features: an infuser cup for draining the infuser when it’s removed from the pitcher and a screw-top lid that seals the pitcher so it’s leak-proof and airtight. The company claims that it has a patented “flash chill technology,” and although it’s just a plastic pitcher, the method worked well.

The Takeya is ideal for a barbeque or picnic since it’s lightweight and portable, and the Tritan-plastic pitcher itself keeps iced tea colder for longer than glass would.

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Pros

  • Makes two quarts of iced tea in 30 seconds
  • Patented chill technology keeps iced tea cold
  • Infuser comes with its own cup for draining the infuser
  • Screw-top lid is leak-proof and airtight

Cons

  • Not automatic or electric
  • Need to boil water separately

4

Mr. Coffee - TM75BK-1

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Imagine the iconic Mr. Coffee coffee maker, then add a pitcher of ice to it, and that’s pretty much all there is to the Mr. Coffee – TM75BK-1 iced tea maker. But for only 20 bucks, it gets the job done, and many consumers praise this product to the skies.

Like the coffee maker, you pour water into its main chamber, insert a filter into the brew basket, add the tea (or tea bags, in which case no filter is needed) and turn it on. A plastic pitcher that’s filled with ice is placed underneath the brew basket’s spout. In about six minutes, the hot tea dribbles out of the spout and is cooled in the ice. We were impressed that the markings on the pitcher accurately calculated the water-to-ice ratio for making three quarts of well-brewed and strong iced tea.

There’s nothing fancy about the Mr. Coffee iced tea maker, but it’s easy to use, and its price can’t be beat.

Pros

  • Makes three quarts of iced tea in under 10 minutes.
  • Easy to use
  • Very affordable
  • Great for iced tea made from tea bags

Cons

  • Needs a filter for loose tea
  • Bulky, takes up space on a countertop or in a cabinet

5

Chefman - RJ11-17-GP

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The Chefman – RJ11-17-GP has many fans on Amazon, but in our testing, it just didn’t compare to the Breville and Willsense. Right out of the box, the Chefman feels lightweight, and upon examination, we saw that its base is made of plastic and decorated with stainless-steel trim. Reading the instruction manual, we were put on guard by the warning that the Chefman may smoke and smell, which should dissipate after several uses.

The Chefman is another 1.7-liter capacity tea maker, and it did make several excellent pots of tea. However, the Chefman had some design flaws that prevent us from recommending it. First, its pitcher is marked only in liters; that’s not a problem for Canadian friends, but for Americans, we need to calculate cups to liters before filling the pitcher.

Brewing and steeping times are not automatic and need to be manually programmed by following the included guide. Once programmed, the timer counts down brewing time, but it does not count down steeping time, which must be timed manually.

Finally, according to its instruction manual, the Chefman is supposed to have a “boil-dry protection,” which automatically shuts the base off if there isn’t enough water in the kettle. We tried it three times, but it didn’t work. If you’ve poured out most of the tea and forgot to turn the unit off, the pitcher could overheat and shatter.

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Pros

  • Heats up quickly
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • No automatic programs
  • Cheaply made
  • Pitcher measurements in liters only
  • Automatic shut-off doesn’t work

Gene Gerrard, Writer

Gene Gerrard was recently voted as one of the top five personal chefs in Los Angeles. He created About.com's Meat and Wild Game Cooking website and published hundreds of recipes, interviews, cookbook reviews and blog posts about food trends. Gene is also a professional magician, and when he's not writing for Your Best Digs, he's performing at the World Famous Magic Castle in Hollywood.

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