Nowadays, there are a number of tea-making gadgets on the market whose makers have sought to automate the process to as great a degree as possible. While they can be quite useful, they also tend to be pricey, and tea purists often look down their noses at them. But the notion of an automatic teamaker is hardly a new one. The teawaker is one type of gadget that was quite popular in the United Kingdom in the last century. It was foreshadowed by an Automatic Tea Making Apparatus that was patented all the way back in 1892.
But, of course, all inventions are not a rousing success and automatic teamakers are hardly an exception to this rule. The operation of John Thiesen’s Automatic Tea Maker, for which he received a patent in 1953, is something of a small mystery. The patent consists solely of six drawings, which depict a device that looks like an old-school coffeemaker.
On the other hand, there’s Dorothy Walker’s patent for an Automatic Tea Maker, which goes clear to the other extreme. Though the patent included several drawings it also includes an intricate and lengthy explanation of the workings of this device, that’s too much for my feeble mind. Intrepid readers can try their hand at deciphering it here. Walker struck again in 1964, with an Automatic Tea Pot whose workings appear to be equally intricate.
William Hermann Brenner Thornton’s tea-making device, which was patented a decade later, uses a bi-metallic strip which flexes when heated by steam and lowers the tea leaves (or coffee grounds) into the water to steep. Phillip L. Brookshire’s Automatic Tea Brewing Device was patented in 1997 and resembles some of today’s better-known gadgets in that it apparently steeps the tea in an upper chamber and then releases it into a reservoir when finished. A number of other gadgets patented in later years are along the same lines.
For more than you probably would ever want to know about the guy who started all of this automatic tea-making gadget type stuff, be sure to take a look at this page devoted to the exploits of the aforementioned Samuel Rowbottom.
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