How different are Japanese electric pots and Western, let's say British ones? Japanese pots are more hi-tech? Maybe so, but the biggest difference is Japanese electric pots are more of a thermos: once they reach boiling point, they automatically reduce the heat and then keep the water at 50 to 98 degrees C (Celsius) depending on how you have set it. You may wonder why they have the choice of setting the temperature. 75 is considered best to steep the most common Japanese green tea "Sencha" (brewed tea) and 98 is for black tea, coffee or most anything else. If you make Japanese green tea with boiling water, the taste will become bitter and will be ruined. As far as finer and more expensive teas such as "Gyokuro" ("gem of dew" or "pearl dew") the most appropriate degree of water to use is as low as 50 degrees.
On the other hand British electric pots are simple: they boil water and just switch off automatically. It's probably because freshly boiled water is crucial to make black tea for one of the most (black) tea loving nations in the world.
The newest electric pot here in Japan is one that can perceive light and switch off automatically when there is little or no light in the room. So even if someone with this pot forgets to turn it off before going to bed, the pot covers for them! Going back to the original question, the difference just might be the Japanese unnecessary high-technology.
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