Move over, teapots, there’s a new steeper in town – well, not exactly new, but certainly not your everyday teapot. It’s the IngenuiTEA. Is it really a tea steeper supreme? It’s fans certainly think so.
How the IngenuiTEA Works
The IngenuiTEA, a patented tea steeper manufactured in Taiwan, is said to reduce infusing loose teas (and even bagged teas) to a very simple process. The teapot is made of lightweight, shatterproof, food-grade plastic. You can use it in the microwave (but not recommended due to the metal mesh filter in the bottom of the teapot) and also put it in the dishwasher (hand-washing is probably better, though).
The steps are simple:
- Add heated water and tea leaves into the teapot body. (Alternately, you can put water in the teapot and microwave it. Some people put cold water and tea leaves in the teapot body and then microwave, but we don’t recommend it for the reasons stated above.)
- Steep the tea. The leaves (if you’re using a full leaf loose tea) will put on quite a show, what some call “the agony of the leaves” but that I prefer to call “the joy of the leaves” (much more positive sounding.
- Strain out the liquid by setting the teapot on top of any cup (the cup rim props open a valve so the liquid flows out of the teapot, keeping the loose tea leaves in).
- Lift the teapot off the cup (the valve closes so there is no dripping) and enjoy your tea.
See it in action here or click on the image above.
The IngenuiTEA Compared to a Teapot
|Can steep loose tea; have to pour through a strainer and some liquid is then left in the pot with the tea leaves. You can avoid this by using the “2 teapot method,” which also allows a second steeping of the tea leaves, should you want one, or you can use a tea ball or other infuser or even bagged teas. Great for any kind of blending you want to do of your teas.||Can steep loose tea; it stays in the teapot body for a second steeping. The teapot holds more (16 or 32 ounces) than many cups/mugs do (anywhere from 4 to 12 ounces are typical), so some liquid stays in the teapot and oversteeps unless you strain it all out into another pot or cup (hm, sounds like that “2 teapot method” mentioned at left). You can solve this by using a larger cup. Great for any kind of blending you want to do of your teas.|
|Can be put in a microwave (to heat the water, not for steeping) as long as it doesn’t have gold, platinum, or silver trim.||Can be put in a microwave (to heat the water, not for steeping), but watch out for the metal mesh filter at the bottom (they tried a plastic filter for awhile, but it warps in the microwave over time, according to the maker, and results in leaking). The video above shows the hot water being added to the steeper, not cold water being added and then heated in the microwave, so I’m thinking this really isn’t intended for use in the microwave.|
|Keeps the tea warm, especially when you use a cozy or set the teapot on a warmer. The Brown Betty stays warm by itself.||The thick plastic body insulates the liquid, keeping it warm.|
|Very homey and traditional, lending that air of refinement to tea time. Glass teapots can also let you see the dance those tea leaves do as they steep.||Sleek and modern, plus you get to see the steeping action which is especially nice for full leaf teas, oolongs, and blooming teas.|
|Most (without gold, silver, and platinum trim) can be put in the dishwasher. Even the ones you hand-wash are simple to deal with, no dismantling and re-assembly required. Special teapots (like Yixing ones) need a mere rinse and then let air dry. If you use a tea ball or other infuser, you have to clean it, too.||Can be put in the dishwasher, but many users recommend hand-washing. You have to dismantle it to get all the tea leaf pieces out, let parts air dry, and re-assemble. Some folks have found this difficult, especially getting the mesh filter back in place. (The mesh filter also seems to float up sometimes when you add in the water, letting tea leaf pieces get under it and then into your teacup.)|
|Lasts for many years if handled with care.||Mesh filter tends to wear out (replacements are available). Avoiding using the teapot in the microwave seems to extend the life, though.|
Only you can decide what is best for you to use. For every user who swears by the IngenuiTEA there is one (or sometimes two) who wouldn’t even consider switching from using a teapot. But that is the beauty of life – something for everyone! My own teapots never need fear being shelved (at least not on a permanent basis) by these or other steeping options (teapots with plungers, steeping mugs, gaiwans, etc.), but you may find the IngenuiTEA to be perfect for you at the office, in your dorm room, when traveling, or even for daily use at home.
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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