Once again, we’re taking a closer look at tea gadgets that seem to pop up on the market like mushrooms after a Spring rain. Over the past couple of years intrepid and tireless tea journalist William I. Lengeman III has sought out the weirdest, cutest, and downright silliest tea gadgets out there. Other tea lovers have posted their latest finds on Facebook and Twitter, singing the praises of some gadget as a tea lifesaver. I’ve snooped around a bit myself and dug up a few. Here’s the lowdown. Feel free to weigh in, especially if you own any of these gadgets.
Each gadget shown here will be rated one of the following:
♥ Gimmicky, not useful at all
♥♥ Neat but not very useful
♥♥♥ So cute I gotta have it (who cares if it’s useful?)
♥♥♥♥ Classy design and somewhat useful
♥♥♥♥♥ Oh my gosh, how did I ever steep tea without this!!
GADGET: TeaTotal by Cambridge Consultants
DESCRIPTION: An automatic tea brewing machine that uses loose leaf tea (at least in the prototype). The dry tea leaves are contained in jars atop the device and can be drawn from in different amounts to create just the right blend that gives you just the right cuppa. The machine steeps your tea in about half of the standard time usually needed: 2 minutes. There is a clear brewing pot into which the dry leaves fall, where hot water is now added, and where water and leaves are swirled around, putting on a show as they steep, and then dispensing the leaves before the tea is poured into a cup.
MY COMMENT: Certainly an interesting goal — give tea drinkers a bit of drama in the serving up of their tea. The device gives tea drinkers foolish enough to go to a coffee house for tea the same “barista style” experience in the preparation of their tea, not just a string-and-tag bag languishing in a mug, Styrofoam cup, or plastic cup full of tepid water. I applaud the ingenuity but generally find this device a bit silly.
GADGET: The Srone Tea Tray
DESCRIPTION: A sleek, simple design is the basis of this great tea tray, where the opposing ends are curved up and serve as the tray’s handles. The tray is printed in an intricate Moroccan motif using a thermochromic paint. It changes color depending on the temperature. When cool, the tray is a glossy ebony black. When heated, it is white. The motif is revealed as the tray heats under your teacup or teapot.
MY COMMENT: Like mood rings in the 1960s and various mugs that reveal — uh, well, the full anatomical structure of a female when the temperature of the material gets hot enough, here’s another product that alters in appearance based on temperature. Classy and stylish, and definitely a conversation starter during your tea time with the “gang.” Do you need it? No. But who cares — gotta have it!
GADGET: Kettle Teapots
DESCRIPTION: Another thermochromic device that tells you when it’s hot and when it’s cool. This one, unlike the tea tray above, however, is truly functional, not just decorative. Add water and tea leaves into the kettle teapot. Set it on the stove burner and heat. When the full design appears, your tea is ready. Remove kettle teapot from the stove and set it on its special magnetic trivet (the trivet will self-detach when the teapot cools enough, so be careful when lifting). Winner of the 2009 World Kitchen Tea Offdesign award.
MY COMMENT: No, it’s not gimmicky, uh uh, no way. Well, just a little, but I want one anyway. The main attraction is being able to heat and steep all at once. You can’t use it at your workplace, but it sure would be nifty at home.
GADGET: The TEPS by Turkish designer Fatih Can Sarioz
DESCRIPTION: Save time and money, and avoid having to settle for “office tea” with this handy innovation. The 8-cup TEPS brews tea at the touch of a button, has a timer, and the base also acts as the heating unit while the upper part serves as a handled tray for serving.
MY COMMENT: Not sure if I’d ever use this or not, either at home or in the office, but I recognize that there are others who definitely would. Plus it’s very classy and sleek in its design.
GADGET: Space Tea
DESCRIPTION: The Smithsonian Museum preserves another tea first: tea in space. (Sort of makes Captain Scott’s South Pole tea time seem tame in comparison.) The item shown here is from the first Space Shuttle mission food kit and is filled with powdered tea. Water could be injected through the port from a dispenser in the Shuttle galley. Then, the astronauts would shake the container, dissolving the tea, and would drink the resulting liquid by squeezing the container. Since this first design, other designs have come along, including covered cups and foil pouches with straws.
MY COMMENT: A neat item to see. Just thought you’d be interested!
There you have it. Another round in the endless innovations from the human mind. My thanks to Bill Lengeman for digging some of these up online. We’ll see what he comes up with next.
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