It’s National Hot Tea Month. What better time to review a tea product?
New products for preparing and enjoying tea are coming out everyday. Recently, I was asked if I wanted to try one of these products and, thinking it would be a good way to help out fellow tea drinkers, I said “Sure!” They let me choose which one to try, so I picked what I thought looked the most like something I could actually use, one way or another.
Stainless Steel Tea Thermal from Copco, a Wilton Products Company.
About the Design:
First thing I did after the mug arrived was take it apart. The parts were a bit stiff at first but not too hard to do. The most challenging was removing the cap off of the infuser basket. The cap handle is slippery. Perhaps some indents would allow a better grip, especially when trying to remove it and the infuser basket from the mug after steeping (there is some suction built up during steeping).
A – Infuser basket
B – Infuser basket cap
C – Insulated stainless steel cup
D – Main cap that holds infuser basket
This Tea Thermal is a rather enigmatic item. On the one hand, it seems to have been designed by people trying to be very attentive to usability, loading up the design with a number of clever features. On the other hand, they appear to have been excessively attentive since this item seems to have too many such features. For example, it has a piece on the lid that covers the drink hole, then becomes a handle or can be snapped open on the opposite side of the lid — clever but not really a big selling point, at least not for me.
A – Main cap with drinking hole covered
B – Main cap with hole cover/handle up
C – Main cap with hole cover/handle snapped down for drinking
The interior of the mug plus the main cap and infuser cap are made of plastic. Be sure to wash thoroughly between uses to avoid the build up of tea residue that could end up making all of your teas taste the same. I warn you, though, that cleaning all the way down to the bottom of the inside of the mug is difficult unless you have small hand.
I think that how the designers envisioned people using this item is as follows:
People would get up in the morning, steep loose tea in the Tea Thermal, turn the lid to “Stop” (which blocks the infuser holes from the water) and drink the tea while commuting to work.
Unfortunately, a few tea preparation steps have not been taken into consideration. For example, I enhance some of the teas I drink with milk and sweetener. (Assam, English Breakfast, PG Tips, Typhoo, etc.) When do I do this? It’s impractical for anyone to steep in this cup a tea that needs to be enhanced.
No worries. The designers have made it fairly easy for you to convert this to a straight tea thermos by unscrewing the part on the lid that holds the infuser basket in place. Great, but then why buy this thermal mug when you can have a plain thermal mug?
Speaking of the infuser basket, this one compared with others I have experienced is small with tiny holes that don’t allow a lot of interaction between water and tea. I have one that’s worse (it’s larger but has fewer holes) and that, therefore, I’ve never used. Hubby suggested that I could put a teabag in the infuser basket. Sure, but why bother? The only reason would be to use the Stop feature. Otherwise, it’s better to just steep the bagged tea, then add it to the mug with whatever enhancements you use (milk, honey, lemon, sweetener, etc.).
A – The Tea Thermal’s infuser basket
B – Another infuser basket that’s worse
I’m not saying the mug is not useful. At home or in the office, I can steep my tea, pour it into this thermal mug, and enjoy a brew that stays at least drinkably warm for an hour or two (at least through the commute and even that Monday morning staff meeting).
As for drinking from Copco’s Tea Thermal while driving, since it doesn’t fit into the cupholder in my car (which is standard size), this isn’t quite convenient.
Time to do a steep test:
The tea: The English Tea Store’s Green Chai. (I chose this tea because I usually drink greens with only sweetener or unenhanced. This is one I can drink unenhanced.)
I placed only a small amount of dry tea into the infuser basket. The tea has large leaf pieces (some even whole leaf), so confining them in this small space really was hard for me to do. Sigh, all in the name of helping fellow tea drinkers.
I poured a bit less than 2 cups of water into the mug, turned the infuser cap to Steep, and set the timer for 3 minutes. After infusing, I poured the tea into a glass mug so you could see how it turned out. The tea infused well but to me was lacking something. A lot of the spices in the chai, which distinguish it from a plain green tea, were lacking. Compared with the taste test I had done of this tea where it was steeped loose in my little cast-iron Japanese teapot, this confined steeping was less satisfactory.
The tea in the infuser after steeping:
We did a second infusion from these same tea leaves in a regular little teapot, letting them float loose in the water. The infusion was more chai tasting, with the spices able to come out into the water.
Overall rating: 2 ½ teacups out of 10
- The design is sleek, modern, and totally cool with attention to details important to commuting tea lovers.
- Convenient for people who want to enjoy loose leaf teas on the go (steep first and add enhancements such as milk, sweetener, honey, lemon, and then carry with you wherever you go).
- The infuser basket is impractical (too small, high up in water, still have clean-up mess to deal with, don’t get a good brew, wasteful of your finer quality teas since they don’t have lots of room to interact properly with the water).
- Doesn’t fit into the cupholder in my car.
- Comes in only one color (so far): a tealeaf green.
- Hard to pull infuser basket out of cap.
[Author’s update: I just tried to tea thermal in my car’s cupholder and was able to get it to fit, but just barely.]
Disclaimer: The product reviewed here was provided by the company named. However, the rating of the product and any opinions concerning it are strictly objective. Conducting the review, writing the article, and posting article and photos on this blog took about 16 hours of productive time.
Check out A.C.’s blog for more great product reviews!