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I’ve run across a lot of tea gadgets over the years, but I’d like to think that I haven’t become jaded just yet. This theory was confirmed recently when I saw an article about a rather unique gizmo. It’s a chocolate teapot. To clarify exactly what that means, it’s a teapot that’s actually made of chocolate – and it apparently works.

I’m not sure why we need this or if the public has been clamoring for it (I doubt it), but it was devised by researchers at the Nestlé Product Technology Centre in England. The pot was made of dark chocolate and, as this article notes, is apparently capable of holding boiling water long enough to prepare a cup of tea. Which is great if you like chocolate flavored tea.

We’ve written about Tregothnan Estate many times now. They’re the United Kingdom’s only native tea producer of any significance, and they will soon be providing tea for First Great Western’s trains in the UK. Which will make them Tregothnan’s top customer and contribute to the company’s rapid growth, which is estimated to hit 60 percent this year.

Now we turn to some offbeat research, specifically a study related to green tea and canine periodontal disease. It’s called The Effect of Green Tea Bag in Dogs With Periodontal Disease and the translation from the Chinese is a little bit clunky but it’s interesting nonetheless. The experiments were carried out on 11 beagles, five of whom served as a control group while the rest had their teeth rinsed with green tea. The results, according to the study abstract, “show that the green tea bag is effective for periodontal disease.”

We close things out today with an eye-catching piece of teaware called a Tea Ball Glass Mug. It’s nothing fancy but, if you’re a fan of sleek, slightly futuristic tea gear, then this one might work for you. The non-glass bits of it are made of silicone and it comes complete with a matching tea ball, if you’re a fan of that sort of thing, and a saucer.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It has become customary to include a novelty tea infuser in each one of these reports whenever possible. So, with no further ado, here’s the latest and greatest. It seems rather appropriate for an object that’s dunked in water and is called a Deep Tea Diver Infuser.

I wrote about tea smuggling at this site not so long ago. It was once a significant problem, particularly in England during the times when exorbitant taxes on tea encouraged this sort of thing. I assumed that it’s not such a common problem today but according to a recent report in the Pakistani press “100 tons of smuggled black tea has been seized by the Customs Intelligence and Investigation” there.

What would five million teabags look like? Probably like a whole lot of tea but, to see it for yourself, you would have had to attend the grand publicity caravan held for the Tour de France recently. Where the well-known English tea firm Taylors of Harrogate gave out that many teabags, along with a mere 60,000 packets of sweetener to help “sweeten the deal.” That’s more than 200 miles of teabags if you laid them end to end. Not that you ever would.

Just exactly what does an exotic tea hunter do? It all sounds very Indiana Jones but, if you’d like to know the details, you can check out a recent Forbes article titled “The Adventures Of Exotic Tea Hunter Rodrick Markus.”

Is tea important to the British? Well, what do you think? From the Department of Research into the Blatantly Obvious comes the revelation that tea is indeed important to the British and is ranked as one of the three top-ranked staples of modern life, along with TV and T-shirts. Results varied depending on the age group of those surveyed and the survey itself was conducted by none other than the online auction giant eBay.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Drawstring Tea Filters (ETS image)

Drawstring Tea Filters (ETS image)

There are any number of alleged uses for a used tea bag, including various cleaning tasks, soothing your weary eyes, and fertilizing plants. Tea has also been used in various ways to make art, and the same goes for tea bags. But what about making your own tea bags? Well, I’d have to say this article is the first time I’ve ever run across such an unusual notion. Instructions are included, if you’d like to play along, and the end result is interesting. Although it seems like more effort than I’m willing to expend.

Did you know that boiled lambskin used to be used as armor for Icelandic warriors? Me neither. Not until I ran across this article that notes that nowadays it is being used for more mundane purposes such as sleeves for iPads and teapots. Great stuff – unless you’re the lamb.

I’ve written a number of articles about offbeat tea patents but think I might have overlooked the one that offered a “method of enhancing tea flavor and aroma,” one that makes use of various extracts from fruits such as apricots, bananas, apples, and more.

Tea at its most basic – leaves, hot water, and something to steep it in – seems like a formula that can’t be improved on much but that doesn’t stop people from trying. There’s the tea bag, for example, and more recently there are those single-serving tea pods that are alleged to be an improvement on the basic tea formula. Along the same lines is the Teadrop, which is said to be “a portable morsel comprised of finely sourced tea, natural sugar, and aromatic spices creating a blissful tea blend that can be enjoyed any time, any place, with just hot water.”

Finally, it’s become something of a tradition to mention an exceptional novelty tea infuser in each one of these monthly gadget reports. This time around we were going to present the Octeapus. Which is probably about what you’d expect, given the name. As the manufacturer’s description puts it, it’s a Tentacled Tea Infuser. Sadly, it’s already sold out.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The well of novelty tea infusers is so deep that it can surely never run dry. It’s become kind of a tradition in these gadget reports to comment on a notable one of these gizmos and this edition is no exception. But this time around we’ll feature not just one but two outstanding novelty tea infusers – all for our usual low price. First, for those who’d like to add a bit of a scientific feel to tea time, there’s this Lab Beaker Tea Infuser. Next up, you could probably almost guess what the Teatanic Unsinkable Tea Infuser is like, but if you need to confirm it look here.

One of the more unusual tea gizmos I’ve run across lately is a tea bag that’s emblazoned with a symbol that’s made of an ink that’s safe to ingest. Which is kind of nifty. But wait – there’s more. When the tea bag is steeped the symbol morphs into something else entirely. For example, as the tea is steeping, a hawk might change into a dove.

The singer Lady Gaga is probably one of the more high profile celebrities these days who is known to be a tea lover. When she passed through Minnesota recently a local tea merchant was given the task of creating a custom blend for her. The full details are not available, but apparently it contained a curious mix of Minnesota wild rice, juniper berries, saffron, and whole vanilla bean – and presumably some other ingredients. I’d have thought that someone with Lady Gaga’s means could afford to travel with her own tea sommelier but apparently she hasn’t gone to that extreme just yet.

I’ve never tried tea made with one of those single serving pod type machines, and I’m not really itching to. But our Esteemed Editor had a less than stellar experience with one not so long ago, which she discusses here. Whether or not you like tea prepared this way, you might find it interesting to know that one company is making a recyclable version of the pods that are used therein.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

If you follow the articles I write for this site, you might have noticed that a certain topic turns up rather often. That would be gadgets. For a while now I’ve been writing a regular monthly column on tea gadgets, and from time to time I throw in an extra article. Having written about so many tea gadgets by now, you’d think that I’d seen absolutely everything and that there’s not really anything more that we can possibly hope for in this great wide world of gadgetry.

Or not. I have a few suggestions, actually. Most of which fall into a category somewhere between serious and perhaps just a bit frivolous. But one can hope, after all.

Stainproof Cups
As someone who primarily drinks black tea I find that the glasses I use tend to get quite discolored over time. This is resolved easily enough by treating them with a diluted solution of bleach. My solution to this might be asking a bit much and yet I humbly propose that we make tea cups or glasses from a type of porcelain or glass that doesn’t stain. Which should be simple enough to do as soon as someone invents… a type of porcelain or glass that doesn’t stain.

Inventory Keeper
If you buy most of your tea through mail order, as I do, then it’s important to keep tabs on how much tea you have on hand and work out the math of how long it will last versus how long it takes for more to be shipped to you. I do pretty well with this most of the time but not always. Which is why I’d humbly suggest that someone devise an app that’s connected to a sensor in your tea storage container and which does the math and reorders in time so that you’ll never run out of tea. If you buy your tea locally then this one can simply remind you that it’s time to head to the store soon.

Cleaning House
I’m probably swinging for the fences with this one but I wouldn’t mind a tea-steeping device that automatically removes the used tea leaves, disposes of them in an acceptable manner and proceeds to clean itself. If it also did windows that would be nice.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’d like to think I haven’t become too jaded about the wonderful world of tea gadgets. Even though I’ve run across a zillion or two of them in my time and even though I write a monthly column on the topic. Yes, a zillion or two might be a bit on the high side, but there’s never any shortage of tea gadgets. Once in a while one comes along that deserves a closer look.

Gadgets for tea time! (ETS image)

Gadgets for tea time! (ETS image)

A little while back I wrote about an impressive gadget in an article I titled The Ultimate Tea Gadget. It probably still holds the title, but the gizmo under consideration in this article is certainly a contender for the title and is likely to be one of the pricier tea gadgets on the market. I briefly mentioned this one a little while back in an article called Speed Tea Revisited but it merits a closer look.

A recent article in a U.S. newspaper examined this high end piece of gadgetry. As you can see from the accompanying picture, it’s a pretty sleek and impressive looking thingamajig. But good looks and sleek styling are hardly reason enough to charge as much as one might expect to pay for a luxury car.

Some of the selling points for this piece of machinery, as the article suggest, is that it supposedly “crafts tea to its optimal flavor extraction, but the whole process takes only 60 to 90 seconds.” As I noted in the aforementioned article on speed tea, speed of brewing is not necessarily something that benefits the tea drinker but for the tea house that’s looking to move customers in and out at a quick pace, it obviously is not without merit.

If you’re not convinced yet, then scan down to the segment where the manager of a tea house that actually sprung for this gadget gives a description of how it actually works. It all sounds like pretty impressive stuff, but if you’re like me you take any and all sales pitches with at least one grain of salt.

While we don’t really do coffee gadgets at this site I couldn’t resist checking out the Alpha Dominche coffee makers that were mentioned in this article. As you can see at their web site, they’re pretty impressive looking, as this type of gadgetry goes, and they’re a relative bargain too. An earlier version of this particular model could be had for the low, low price of about $15,000. Why, for that price you might as well give me two of them.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

(stock image)

(stock image)

We’ve written about Tregothnan Estate many times at this site and here’s the proof. It’s noteworthy for the fact that it’s the only significant producer of tea in a place where tea is consumed with great enthusiasm – the United Kingdom. Recently, it was announced, as one of the British papers put it, that “English grown tea will be available for the first time in British supermarkets.” That’s Tregothnan tea, of course, which is also exploring the option of exporting their tea to China, as well as opening their own chain of tea houses.

If “cereal tea” is something you’ve never heard of before, you’re not alone. I was in the same boat until I ran across a few references to it recently. It’s apparently designed for anyone who thinks that cereal saturated milk found at the bottom of a cereal bowl is something like fine cuisine. According to this instructional article it’s prepared like tea, but it apparently doesn’t contain any actual tea – though you could probably throw some into the mix if you were so inclined.

I seem to recall a few previous references I’ve made into these pages to clothing that has been dyed with tea. Along the same lines, here’s an article about a designer who creates fabric from kombucha, among other things. Kombucha is a cultured drink that’s not tea in the strictest sense of the word but which is usually mixed with tea.

Then there are zany novelty tea infusers. I try not to let too many of those columns pass without a reference to at least one. This time around I’ll point you to not one but rather a fine assortment of twenty tea infusers, courtesy of the good people over at the Mashable site.

Speaking of zany and novelty, there’s teapots. If you happen to be in Pomona, California this spring you might want to stop by the Big Fish Small Pot teapot event. If you miss it there’s always next year. After all, this year’s incarnation is billed as the Sixth International Small Teapot Competition and Show. More here. For more on teapots, there’s always the teapots teapots teapots site, where they feature such offbeat items of interest as this one.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rocket Infuser (screen capture from site)

Rocket Infuser (screen capture from site)

There’s an app for that, as Apple’s popular trademarked phrase might put it. It seems that nowadays there’s an app for just about everything and tea is hardly an exception. I’ve reported on various tea apps in these gadget reports every now and then. But the good people over at the Apple-focused publication Mac Life have done us all the favor of putting together a list of eight of their favorites.

If you thought that tea was just for drinking, well, that’s just not true. Tea as a flavoring for ice cream is not a totally new notion and it’s one that I’ve written about before. But here’s an article from a Connecticut-based paper about a local company that offers a line of tea-infused ice cream that uses teas like Earl Grey, matcha, and Assam as flavoring agents.

Smearing tea all over yourself might not be one of the first uses you’d think of for tea, even aside from drinking it. I’d still rather drink the stuff, but if you’re interested in white tea, Rooibos or green tea used in a variety of beauty potions take a look at this brief article.

What is it about tea (or wine, for that matter) that causes your mouth to pucker up when you drink it? The term for this is astringency and, as a recent article in Scientific American notes, it’s the tannins in wine and tea that actually cause the astringency. In modest amounts this sort of thing is not so bad and can even be desirable. As the article says, “Their astringency is off-putting to virtually all plant-eaters, from insects to birds to reptiles to humans, though in the right concentrations, they lend pleasant complexity to tea and wine.” More details on how it all works here.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as the story goes, and there’s also more than one way to make a cup of tea. One lesser known method is cold-brewing. If you’re in the market for a stylish looking gadget that allows for doing so take a look at the Hario Filter-in-Bottle Cold-Brew Tea Maker. Last of all, because no tea gadget report is truly complete without a novelty tea infuser, here’s a clever one that’s shaped like a rocket.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Assam Tea Bags (ETS image)

Assam Tea Bags (ETS image)

There are a couple of themes that seem to crop up now and then when it comes to gimmicky tea-related stuff. One is using tea in one way or another to make some sort of art and the other is using tea to make or flavor beer or spirits. The latter is a topic I wrote about a few years ago, but it’s a notion that also cropped up recently in the Scottish press.

Which tells of a collaboration between two firms – Eteaket and Barney’s Beer – to come up with a few tea-flavored beers. The first of which – a chili Rooibos blend – didn’t turn out so well. Imagine that. Two other experiments – a Smoky Lapsang Porter and a Breakfast Brew – apparently turned out quite a bit better and you can read more about it all here.

As for that art project, here’s a tale from the British press, of an American artist who paints with tea – literally – though his palette also includes coffee. The impressive works – some of which are showcased in the article – are said to take several months each and the Pennsylvania-based artists claims to use flavored teas from around the world on his canvasses.

But let’s get on to the gadgets now. The German firm known as Finum make a rather distinctive line of tea and coffee accessories and their curiously named Traveler Zita is an interesting addition to that line. If I understand it correctly it’s a tumbler that allows for tea to be conveniently steeped on the go (though I’m sure they wouldn’t object if you used it at home) with a simple twist of the lid preventing the tea leaves from being oversteeped.

Time magazine suggested recently Lazy Tea Drinkers Will Soon Be Able to Boil Water With Their iPhone. But that’s a slightly deceptive headline, if I do say so myself. I’m pretty sure Apple hasn’t come up with a phone yet that actually boils water. What they meant to say is that you can use your phone to initiate the water boiling process on a device that’s been dubbed the iKettle, which can be had for a mere $160. I’m going to hazard a guess that lazy coffee drinkers and lazy hot chocolate drinkers can also make use of it.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Vlad Putin Teapot (screen capture from site)

Vlad Putin Teapot (screen capture from site)

I’ve seen a lot of tea gadgets. This is the twelfth monthly installment of this report and I wrote many more before we began numbering them. So you’d think that I might have become a bit jaded when it comes to tea gadgets, and perhaps I have. But every once in a while one comes along that makes me sit up and take notice. This time around it’s the Vladimir Putin teapot.

If you think that the Russian leader is a curious choice to commemorate with a teapot, then we’re in complete agreement. The sculptors who worked together on the project probably wouldn’t argue the point, but given that they’ve also made teapots of such heads of state as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran) and Kim Jong Il (North Korea), it’s possible that they didn’t have commemorating in mind. Compared to those, this Colossal Titan Tea Strainer + Mug Set, featuring a character drawn from a popular manga series, seems rather tame.

Along with the growing popularity of tea in recent years has come a stampede of new tea merchants hoping to get a piece of the action. One of the results of so many new players crowding the market is that it becomes harder to stand out from the pack. So, while it can’t hurt to sell good tea at good prices and provide good customer service, it also can’t hurt to do something to set yourself apart from the masses.

Which is what one British tea maker did in August, when they declared a “tea amnesty.” The way it worked was that anyone who brought in a box of a competitor’s tea (that had at least two tea bags left in it) could swap it for a full box of their own tea. The offer was on a first-come, first-served basis and was limited to the first 500 tea drinkers who responded. While it’s not clear what the result of the promotion was, it was sufficient to gain the company a few mentions in the press and social media. Read more about tea amnesty here.

I have to confess to fondness for any tea gadgetry that falls into the sleek and space age category, which is certainly the case with this curiously named Sencha Tea Maker & Warmer. In spite of the name, I’m going to a hazard a guess that you could make and warm just about any type of tea in it and not just sencha.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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