Thursday, December 21, 2006

Teaware: triniTEA Electric Maker by Adagio

Still stuck with tea “in the bag” because it’s just too much work to get out the teapot, heat the water, brew the tea and strain it into a cup? This little machine is exactly what you need. By the name, you can guess that it is a three-part system, and it does everything for you except measure out the tea leaves. It even keeps your tea warm after it’s brewed on a hotplate just like a standard coffee pot!

Using the triniTEA is easy, which is probably why it only comes with two small square instruction sheets. The top chamber heats the water, and you can set the temperature to either 180 or 212 degrees, depending on the type of tea you’re making. Once the water is hot enough, it is released into the second chamber with the brewing basket, which holds the tea leaves. At this point, the timer kicks in, and it steeps the leaves for the amount of time you choose. After that time has passed, the tea is released into the carafe below, and held warm until you turn the machine off.

A series of beeps will alert you to each change in the cycle, so you can walk away and do other things while your tea is brewing. You don’t have to worry about being called to the door or phone and forgetting your tea, so as long as you set the timer on the machine to the correct steeping time. And your tea will be warm even if you forget it’s out there, waiting patiently for you to return at your convenience.

That being said, I love to watch the water being released into the brewing chamber from the heating area – the steam and oxygen bubbles filling the chamber and the water streaming out of the brew basket into the container is just enjoyable to watch.

I did have a few problems the first few times I used this machine. The first time, I filled the heating chamber too full, and had steam and water streaming out of the top as it reached the boiling point. Not good. The second time the machine worked just fine, but the third time I put water in it, the lever from the heating chamber to the brewing basket had not shut, so the water went straight through the machine, causing a huge mess on the counter. So be aware that these problems can happen. I think it just took a few uses for the seals to settle in and expand correctly, because since then, it’s worked perfectly every time.

I’ve made black teas (flavored and plain) in it with great success, and it did a good job with rooibos, darjeeling and a dark oolong as well. The flavored white tea I tried the other day came out bitter, but I’m not sure if the water was too hot or if the steeping time was just too long, since I put it at 7 minutes for steeping (that particular white is prone to bitterness anyways). I’ll try another white in it this weekend and see how it turns out. I’m not normally a fan of green tea, but I do have one in the cupboard that I’ll try in it, just to say that I did, and see if it improves the flavor any.

Either way, for $100 (okay, $99), this little machine is completely handy and nice to have around, especially when you don't have that 5 minutes to stay close to the kitchen so you can hear the tea timer, or when you're entertaining guests who might like tea as well. Don't toss your traditional teapots, of course, but this is a great new option to have in your kitchen for "everyday" brewing.

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