Our youngest son found a Zojirushi VE Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer under the tree on Christmas morning. This probably seems like a strange gift for a teenage boy, but he’s really into tea and had complained about bitter tea a few times as he worked his way through the 24 Days of Tea advent calendar. In an effort to prevent any more disappointing tea tasting experiences, he pointed out that most loose leaf tea brewing instructions cover quantity of tea/cup, water temperature and steeping time. Thus, I learned that by using steaming hot water from the freshly boiled electric kettle, I was inadvertently triggering the bitterness.
So Mr. GeoK (our star shopper for all things but groceries) started researching programmable kettles, laser thermometers and other options for ensuring the water used for brewing K’s morning cuppa is just the right temperature. With Christmas approaching, we decided to leave K out of the decision process in favour of surprising him Christmas Day.
While the C$260 price tag was fairly eye-popping, we eventually opted for 4.0 liter (135 ounce) Zojirushi CV-DSC40 VE Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer for a few reasons, the most important being:
- We have two other Zojirushi small appliances which have served us well for many years (a rice cooker and a bread machine);
- Low power consumption – because of its low-wattage draw, the unit heats the water and keeps it at the set temperature all day using less power than it takes to bring an electric kettle to a boil just once.
K’s comment on opening the box was “fancy!” And it is. But it’s also intuitive to use. Just fill the vacuum insulated reservoir with fresh water, plug it in, set the desired temperature and wait. Yes, you have to wait. It takes 26 minutes for 3 liters of water to heat to 90C (195F) using the power-efficient default mode and 22 minutes using the quick boil mode. On the flip side, once the water heats to the set temperature, it stays hot all day which means I can brew a cup of tea anytime I want one during the day and K can make another mug of tea after he walks home from school.
One of the coolest things about the design of the unit is the easy to read large wraparound water level gauge that takes advantage of the refractive quality of water. The magnetic connection for the power cord is a neat safety feature.
The first couple of times we used the unit, we were disappointed when it brought the water up to the programmed temperature but then displayed an “hh” error code. After a few minutes using Google, we discovered that several other users have had the same experience and, after consulting with Zojirushi, determined it was due to using water that was too clean. We don’t understand why that should be an issue, but sure enough, when we ran it a third time using 2 liters of reverse osmosis pure water plus 1 liter of tap water, it worked just fine. Through additional trial and error I’ve confirmed that less than a half liter of tap water in the mix is needed for the unit to operate properly.
Dispensing hot water is easy. Press the unlock button to disengage the safety lock and then press the dispense button for as much hot water as needed. There’s an option to reduce the flow rate to 60% of default if you’re using some sort of filtered coffee system.
We haven’t yet had to run a cleaning cycle (requires citric acid, recommended once/month). But I’ve take advantage of the non-electric keep warm; I unplug the unit in the evening and before I refill it the next morning I pour the hot water into the sink to wash our few breakfast dishes. It’s remarkable how effective the vacuum insulation is.
In summary, I confess that if K exercises his ownership rights and takes this unit off to university in 2017, I’m going to be asking Santa to leave another one under the tree for me. And if you have a few minutes to spare, I found this complete history of the evolution of Zojirushi water boilers pretty interesting.
Written for 20 Days of Chill: Life Wouldn’t Be The Same (Day 3). The 20 Days of Chill Writing Challenge is running Monday through Friday in January. It’s pretty chill – participants can post every day or just one day. The list of daily topics is posted here.