Christopher Kimball: For years my wife has drunk nothing more than tea instead of coffee, and she uses those wonderful English ceramic pots. And I’m rather fond of the Japanese cast iron pots that have ceramic inside as a coating. They’re very nice, too. So the question is, why would anybody want to go out and buy a newfangled pot? [Adam thoughtfully considers] And the reason is if I’m sitting in my office and want a personal cup of tea, one might buy a teapot that’s perfect for an office setting for just one serving. So I’m here in the Equipment Corner with Adam, who’s done the testing, to see if a personal teapot is a good idea or a lousy one.
Adam Ried: [teasingly] You always want more teapots, Chris. But, you know, first we want to talk a little bit about the tea itself. There are a lot of tea fans in the Test Kitchen, and I know you’re a tea fan, also. And everybody tends to like drinking this loose leaf variety of tea [sifts through leaves with fingers] — and you can see they’re nice big pieces — versus tea that I actually ripped out of a supermarket teabag [displays brown, more granular tea]. It’s small pieces, almost dusty. You can get loose leaf tea in a much wider variety. The quality is usually higher. And as the tea leaves unfurl [water poured onto leaves in the ingenuiTEA], as they absorb the water and they float around in the water, that’s when it really releases all of the desirable flavor compounds. A tea bag doesn’t give it the space to really float around the water. So as you said, we went out and found four different personal tea brewers. [camera pans through teapots] We wanted, obviously, a good-tasting cup of tea at the proper strength. And we used the standard ratio of a teaspoon of loose tea per cup of boiling water for a four-minute steeping time. And in fact, Chris, we’re brewing some tea for you right now in one of these brewers, and it’s going to be ready [beeping] right [beeping] now. This has got a mesh insert and a plunger. Why don’t you press the plunger down [CPK plunges, pours] and take a taste of the tea and tell me what you think?
CPK: It tastes like water. I mean, it has almost no tea flavor.
AR: Pretty weak. This has a mesh insert, and we found that it limited the circulation of the tea leaves too much. Now I want you to taste tea from this one.
CPK: [watches tea flow into mug as pot is placed on it] That’s pretty clever. So how does that work?
AR: That’s a release valve. So when you put it on top of a cup, it pushes the valve up, the tea flows through down into the cup, and the tea leaves stay put.
CPK: [sips] Oh, that tastes like tea. [nods enthusiastically]
AR: [gestures to two remaining teapots] We actually had problems with these two and their release valves. They just weren’t that reliable. And it’s this tea that you just tasted that came from our winning brewer. This is the ingenuiTEA by Adagio Teas. It was $15, it brewed great-tasting tea, it was easy to clean.
CPK: Now, my wife would ask you the question, are there are any harmful chemicals in plastic?
AR: The chemical that Adrienne is worried about is called BPA. And we thought about that also. So I called the company, and they say that there’s no BPA in the plastic here, so it’s safe to heat up.
CPK: So the winner was 15 bucks, it was the ingenuiTEA — [aside to AR] how clever is that? — by Adagio. And there you have it [gestures cheer with mug] — 15 bucks, and it makes great tea.
View the full report of our Innovative Teapot Testing
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH
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