In the wake of the 2011 World Tea Expo I came across a series of accessories which make it simple to brew your tea. A couple of these have been around a few years, such as Adagio Teas' ingenuiTEA. However, with new entrants to this area of tea making fun there's a need for a product SHOOTOUT!
It's not every day we have the opportunity to watch a shootout. Thankfully the ones we like are usually produced by Hollywood as no-one is usually hurt in those.
Today we're going to have an accessory showdown. This one is for brewing vessels. That is, mugs which have an infuser built in for brewing loose or bagged teas and strain through the bottom when placed atop your mug. Nice for the office or friend's house!
Essentially all three devices work the same way. Place your loose leaves in the pitcher, fill it with water at the desired temperature, let steep the requisite amount of time then place the brewer atop your mug and allow it to drain to fill your mug.
Adagio Teas' ingenuiTEA - http://www.adagio.com
The ingenuiTEA from Adagio is in a special place. So far as I know it's the original device of this kind. That's not to say it's immediately better or worse than the other accessories in the category.
The ingenuiTEA appears to be the smallest of the three in this showdown. However it holds just as much as the Brewts device, a full 16 fluid ounces (2 cups).
The ingenuiTEA is the only brewer to lack a 'drip plate' or 'coaster.' Whether the device needs one is completely up to whether or not you have spillage from yours. Apparently some older models had issues with the strainer coming loose and leaking a bit. My model did not have this problem.
Of all the devices the ingenuiTEA has the most grip able handle. The wavy grips prevent finger slippage while holding the accessory.
I did have issues with the strainer though. While I didn't have issues with it becoming loose... I had the exact opposite issue. It was way too tight. I couldn't get the strainer out in order to wash the device properly. This was a shame for an otherwise notable tool.
Teavana's Perfect TeaMaker II - http://www.teavana.com
I was honestly surprised when I opened the box for Teavana's PerfecTEA Tea Maker II. The device is MUCH larger than the other two in this shootout, weighing in at 32 fluid ounces (4 cups).
If you have loose Guayusa from Runa or another herbal tea which doesn't grow bitter or astringent after brewing too long this size is great. It's also a great fit if you're brewing the same tea for several people.
The handle on the Perfect TEaMaker II is kind of interesting. It almost seems like it could be used for volume measurement, but there are no volume counts on the device. Just straight lines similar to what you might see on a measuring cup.
Because of the sheer size of the PerfecTEA Tea Maker II, the strainer is very easy to take out. It could be that unlike Adagio's device, I was simply able to fit my hand inside and get enough leverage to remove it.
The drip plate was a nice addition to the Perfect TeaMaker II. The device tends to drip a few milliliters after it seems it's been fully drained into the mug.
I didn't find this particular brewer a good fit for someone making tea for themselves. Even with a large 20 ounce mug there's no really easy way for me to tell when my mug is getting full other than judging volume siphoned from the unit as I'm loading up my mug. It should be noted that Teavana does offer a 16 ounce model, but I needed to test for differentiation.
On the plus side this brewer was the only one which could adequately cover the lip of my mug completely as recommended by all the manufacturers. The video above illustrates the issue I have with the ingenuiTEA and the Brewt as it concerns covering my mug to provide stability for the device as it empties.
Brewt Brewer - http://www.brewts.com
The Brewt is an interesting looking device. The design has more shape and curve to it making it look 'cooler' or more fun. The line I was given at the 2011 World Tea Expo was that the Brewt was designed so big man-hands could get into the device and remove the strainer for cleaning. I certainly found this to be the case.
The Brewt also has a drip plate with it. Labeled a 'coaster,' I hadn't had much call to use it even after a month of three to five brews a day with the device.
Since the Brewt is sold only as wholesale to tea shops and other companies it's difficult to get any direct information from their website related to price or features. But it does have some differentiation from the other units besides man-hand room.
I love the fact that the lid for this unit pops off and on so easily. It makes cleaning the accessory so much simpler. The lid for the ingenuiTEA does come off, but requires more force and the Perfect Tea Maker II's lid may be removable but it always feels like I'll break it when I try.
An unfortunate side effect of the easy lid is that the Brewt tends to leak air out. This is a great tease when you really want your tea to finish brewing, but it diffuses the flavor and aroma which would be better if contained. So that's kind of a draw.
Unlike last year's infuser showdown, there's only one unified method of brewing for these devices. You either enjoy the brew, or you don't. I happened to gravitate most to the Bret due to its unit size and because it was easier to clean than the ingenuiTEA.
|Dishwasher||Yes||Top Rack Only||Yes|
|Bonus||Great grip||Multi-person||Easy lid|
|Price||$19.99 USD||$29.99 USD||$24.99 USD|
Overall, which unit is right for you is based on your preferences, needs and usage. The Brewt worked best for me, but the ingenuiTEA or the Perfect Tea Maker II could very well be a better fit depending on your consumption habits.
To say the ingenuiTEA is a poorly constructed unit would be wrong. I probably received one of the first revised units with the new metallic strainer and there very well may have been some issues with that run. Poke around online to see how other people's experiences have gone.
The Perfect Tea Maker II is a nice unit. It's opaque bottom makes it difficult to see how much tea has been drained into my mug and I came very close to having it overflow on several occasions because of this. If your vessel is big enough to hold 32 fluid ounces of tea then this might be your brewer. If not, just be careful as you allow it to drain. Don't walk away from it. Or, fill it half way.