The Breville Tea Maker (BTM800XL) is a classy appliance that is a delight to use in almost every way. After having had disappointing experiences with Cuisinart TEA-100 Tea Maker and the even worse Krups Tea Maker, both of which cost around $100, we finally sprung for the quality of the Breville tea maker.
The problem with the Cuisinart model was that the rotating sleeve that allowed you to drop the tea basket into the water and later raise it was made of polycarbonate plastic bonded to some metal, and it eventually cracked apart. We replaced it twice.
The Krups tea maker (which is available on Amazon, but no longer mentioned at the Krups site) has a similar problem, as the entire tea basket and its lowering mechanism are plastic and began to crack in a few months. In addition, the Krups model, which uses the same carafe and base but inferior electronics has no provision to keep the tea warm. At one point, we were using the Cuisinart base and the Krups carafe assembly until the cracking rendered it useless. No Krups spare parts seem to be available.
After these frustrating experiences, the Breville is an absolute delight. In this system, the tea basket is all metal and hangs magnetically on a post at the back of the carafe. It is lowered automatically (almost magically) when the water reaches a boil and raised after a preselected interval.
You can select the water temperature and the immersion period from one of the presets, or you can choose a custom steeping interval on the control panel.
The tea basket is dishwasher safe, but the carafe is not: you should avoid immersing it or even running water on the carafe, they say. The tannins in tea eventually will discolor the carafe base heating element area, but as Breville suggests, you can easily clean of this discoloration by just putting some water and baking soda in the carafe and heating it up. A couple of swishes with a plastic dish brush will clean It right up.
The Breville Tea Maker is not cheap, we paid about $225 for it, but it is easily the finest tea maker we’ve tried and looks like it will last a long time. You can also use it to heat water without using the tea basket if you just need some boiling water in a hurry.
Our only quibble is that every time you take the carafe off the base to pour some tea and return it, you have to push the Keep Warm button to keep the remaining tea warm.