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.
I also noticed the ingenuiTEA happened to stain fairly quickly when I brewed some Lapsang Souchong and some of Ten Ren’s King’s Tea.
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.
8 thoughts on “Accessory: Tea Brewer Showdown”
Thanks for the review. The chart was very helpful. Just wanted to let you know – if you don’t already – that Teavana makes a 16 oz brewer now. I saw it on Amazon for $19.99.
Thanks for the heads up Lise. I’ve seen smaller quantity brewers coming out the past couple years. Really great buys!
The Ingenuitea, Alfi21, and Brewt have a base design that is more likely to accidentally dump tea or water by touching an object. On them, the release is outside the stand. On the Teavana the release is inside the stand, so an accidental dump is less likely.
The original Ingenuitea and Alfi21 were really not cleanable. The mesh was glued in place.
The original Ingenuitea used a lever to release the tea, which was better in that it didn’t accidentally dump, but worse in that it was not cleanable and eventually leaked.
The Teavana is more likely to overflow your cup, because it holds more than a cup. Use it with a teapot instead. With the Brewt it is a little easier to see when you’ve filled your cup, because of the tapered design of the base.
Most of the best cups of tea I’ve had came from one of these devices. You’d think the plastics would lend a flavor, and the mesh and ball would trap some old flavor, but I don’t detect those problems. I CAN taste a steel tea ball, and a paper filter, and soap on glass teapots, and melamine, paper, and foam teacups.
I agree with all your sentiments, and with continued use over the past couple years the same notes still hold true.
I use my Brewt several times a day precisely because I can see when it has filled my cup more easily than I can with the others.
Tea-Guy – I have been scouring the internet to find the wholesale source of these brewers to private label for my shop, I am just checking in to see if by any small chance you have an insight to this, thanks in advance!
I know several vendors. I can get you in touch, but I would recommend doing comparison shopping by attending the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas which is North America’s largest industry gathering for specialty tea products.
Having used all three of these EXTENSIVELY there is a difference that shows up under heavy use. Too bad I can’t submit pictures. From what I can tell the BrewT was the first player in this game. The Teavana copied the BrewT design or at least “was inspired” by it. What they didn’t get right was the plastic. After about 3 months of use the Teavana starts to get hairline cracks in it. They get worse over time. I have had 5 of them (did I mention I REALLY like tea?) and they keep cracking. I keep bringing them back to the store where I purchased them and they whine and complain but basically give me a replacement. The BrewT keeps going and going and going. No cracks, no damage. The Adagio doesn’t seem to crack with hairline cracks but I have notice it seems to be more brittle. I broke the top cover hinge off two of mine. Basically, I am sticking with the BrewT. They all three seem to do the same thing. The Teavana gets stuck open far more often and I wouldn’t trade a dead lizard for it. The Adagio seems to play second fiddle to the BrewT. Given the rate I went through the Teavana I purchased a backup BrewT about two years ago and still haven’t taken it out of the box. Keeps on working. Owned all three for at least 4 years.
I also have had a great many such units over the years. The BrewT was one of the first in the field and the design was licensed vs copied I think. Too similar not to have been.
That said, the game has changed a lot over the past ten years and so have I. How and what I brew have become ever more nuanced.