We bought our Cuisinart TEA-100 in April, 2012 and wrote up a review of it here. We reported that it made very good tea, but both the metal base and the tea basket stained badly (using Twining’s English Breakfast tea).
The way it works is you fill the carafe with water up to some number of cups, place tea in the tea basket, and place the carafe on the metal electric base and turn it on. It brings the tea water to a boil.
Then you can rotate the tea basket to lower the tea into the water. It keeps the water between 203ºF and 210ºF while the tea steeps for a few minutes. Then it beeps after 4 minutes (this is adjustable) and you can raise the tea basket to prevent oversteeping. It keeps the tea warm for 30 minutes at that same 203º-210º and then shuts off. You can turn it back on, of course to reheat your tea then or later. You can also select lower temperatures for other types of tea.
The Cuisinart model makes very good tea, but the tea basket assembly is defective. It consists of an outer and an inner cylinder. The outer one locks to the carafe and the inner one contains the tea and lowers when you twist the handle on the top. The outer cylinder is partly plastic and partly metal and the plastic part which locks to the carafe has broken 3 successive times. Cuisinart has kindly replaced it twice, and we are now on our third one. Pictures of all three are in the slide show. The plastic is coming apart on the current one too, but hasn’t broken yet.
However, as we noted the metal bottom of the carafe discolors quickly after just one or two uses, and needs to be scrubbed from time to time to keep it presentable. (We avoided scrubbing or using the dishwasher on the fragile tea basket assembly.)
Last week we were carefully cleaning the carafe with a soft plastic dish brush and some SoftScrub cleaner, when the side of the carafe shattered and pieces fell out. You can see pictures of this in the slide show. NOTE ADDED: Cuisinart said the carafe was not covered by the warranty and refused to replace it.
With that, the carafe and tea maker were now useless, so we looked into replacing it (after only 18 months). You could order a new carafe from Cuisinart for $65, or you could buy a new one from Amazon for $129.
However, we also noted that Krups was selling a similar looking one (FL700D) for $89.45. So we ordered it to see if it would be any better.
When it arrived two days later, we discovered that it was basically the same electric base and carafe as the Cuisinart model but with different button controls and a Krups logo on the carafe. The tea basket assembly was all hard plastic rather than half metal and half plastic. You can see the two models side by side in the slide show.
There are some differences in Krups model that keep it from making very good tea. It brings the water to a boil, and you then lower the plastic tea basket in same way, but it then shuts off and the temperature slowly begins to drop. The only option you have is to press the Keep Warm button (and you have to be there to do this or it just shuts off). Unfortunately Keep Warm only holds the temperarture at 165º F, which is too cool to steep tea. It is actually too cool for tea once you pour it into your cup, too: it is just tepid. The base also allows lower temperatures for other types of tea but you need a full boil for black tea.
However, since the metal electric base and carafe are basically the same, we moved the new Krups carafe to the old Cuisinart electric base. This solved our problem but won’t solve anyone else’s unless you, too, bought both. We now have a new carafe and tea basket that keeps tea close to 210ºF and makes very good tea.
The bottom of the Krups carafe spots where the heating element is in exactly the same way the Cuisinart one does, and will have to be cleaned using SoftScrub, although the Krups manual cautions against using “abrasive cleaning agents.” In typical mis-translated German, the manual also says “It is strictly prohibited to put the small and large tea baskets in a dishwasher,” so we’ll have to clean it with soapy water. It also has already begun to discolor from the three batches of tea we’ve made, which the manual suggest is expected.
So the Cuisinart makes better tea, but we did manage to put together a working tea maker. We don’t think the Krups people thought the whole tea steeping temperature thing through very carefully, but the tea basket may be more sturdy.