Japanese Hot Water DIspenser/Warmer
I've had my eye on the Zojirushi water boiler for some time now... It seems it would be nice for tea (has 2 settings for green/black tea) and noodles. Anyone out there have one? Is it worth the considerable price?! I realize it's a gadget... but such a nice one!
You will find extensive threads debating the use of a hot water pot for tea steeping - the consensus among tea afficianados is that you should heat water for your tea just before you steep it.
I am not an afficianado and I will tell you that we pull out the hot pot every winter for easy, one-touch tea steeping and my experience is not ruined. I also sometimes put honey in my chamomile, and I enjoy Celestial Seasoning Sleepytime tea. However, if you're buying high-quality tea leaves, you may want to look for another method for your tea.
The hot water pot will give you water hot enough for instant noodles. We don't eat instant noodles (too much sodium for us), but it'll do the job. I don't think it's hot enough to cook regular pasta or anything, though.
We also use it to pre-warm coffee mugs, dissolve buillon cubes or instant coffee (for baking), and make small batches of oatmeal.
I'd keep an eye out on Amazon.com for good prices or visit an Asian home-goods store if you have one near you. A cheaper alternative is just to get an electric kettle. They usually boil water really quickly, if you don't think you need to "store" hot water for your use.
re: tanuki soup
... to add to that list.
- Cooking fresh pasta (hit the "re-boil" button, fill a small pan with the boiling water, dump in pasta, cover and in about 2 minutes you've got cooked pasta)
- Freshens up congee
- blanching veggies
- tempering chocolate (use hot water to start the double boiler process)
- making custard (use hot water to start your double boiiler process)
- hot chocolate
Unless you need the features on the more expensive models, you can save money and get pretty much the same thing if you buy a non-Zoji one. Tiger, Panasonic, Sanyo should all make decent ones. If you live near an Asian market / grocery or appliance store, check there.
I coveted the Zo dispenser for some time but opted for the Krups electric kettle instead.
The warmer/dispensers are slow to heat up water but were great for my grandparents who pretty much sipped tea continuously all day. The electric kettles can be faster than the time you steep your tea depending on the wattage of the model and how much water you heat up at a time. My krups is so fast, i now start pasta water in the kettle before pouring into the pot on the stove and it saves about 5 minutes. Regardless, i tend to download and read thru any available user manuals before making a selection.