Better Than I Can
For a few years now, I’ve had a tea making suite™ that I have loved (by Zarafina). I had wanted it for ages, but could never justify the cost to myself, so when I saw it go on crazy-Amazon-sale for the first time, I jumped on it. When I first started reading the instruction manual, I was overwhelmed with pretension. It was packed full of tea-snobbery: proper temperature, steeping time, proud tradition of blah, blah, blah. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love tea, but it was a little daunting. The manual read like a sales pitch. Even the paper the instructions were printed on was heavy, self-important stuff.
But the fact is, it is a marvelous device with great settings that makes tea better than I (as a human who doesn’t have time to boil water and stick in a thermometer to get optimum temperature) ever can. The number of settings for type, delivery style and strength of tea ensures you can get all flavor you want without improper bitterness or risk of burning. I more or less retired my stovetop kettle except for the rare occasion I need it for something other than tea.
It tickled the gadget lover in me too, since the infusion basket (not pictured below, strangely) floats until the water is heated properly, and the tea maker sinks it using magnetic attraction to the steel plate in the bottom. It’s weirdly fun to watch. The Zarafina tea maker is also quite pretty as you can see:
However, there’s a catch. That infusion chamber and teapot are frankly tiny. It only ever makes enough tea for one person and is more or less 1.5 cups of tea in practice. While that’s usually okay, if I ever want to make enough for more people, or make homemade iced tea for warmer months, I choose between a never ending series of pots or less tasty tea made by me the old fashioned way. A while ago, Breville made a similar super-shiny tea making device that had a much larger capacity, but which was also quite pricey. Too pricey when my wonderful little Zarafina worked just fine, so I put it out of my mind and didn’t make iced tea very often.
Well, a few weeks ago I was drying my the teapot early during the (rare) I’m-groggy-don’t-bother-me stage* of the morning and I dropped the lid on the kitchen floor. FUCKCRASHSMASHDAMNPANTS. To make matters worse, they don’t sell replacement pots, even though the porcelain tray it sits on is specifically shaped. They sell other replacement parts, but not the one I need. Aside: who fucking sells all sorts of plastic replacement parts but not the obviously smashable, specially-made porcelain pot? The tea maker still works, obviously, but I’m rather crushed that I broke part of the pot.
However, it did give me an excuse to ask for the lovely Breville tea maker for my birthday. It arrived a few days ago and it’s awesome. (I asked Thrack if he minded my opening it early as my birthday is still a week away before tearing the packaging open.) It offers all the same sorts of features that the Zarafina did, has a larger capacity, has a keep warm feature and is smart enough that I can program it to have tea brewed automatically in the morning. It is my new favorite thing. I’ve been making two pots a day on average. And amazingly, I think it may actually make slightly better tea than my old one did (sacrilege! but true). It also makes water in exactly temperature you might need in a recipe, which is pretty nifty. There is a contributor (referred to between Thrack and I as “Coffee Guy”) at Tested.com who uses it to make water to make specifically heated water for his obsessive coffee habits and nothing else, it sounds like.
Like my smaller one, this teakettle also ensures that the leaves don’t start steeping until the water is the proper temperature for the tea you want by way of magnetic suspension. This infusion basket doesn’t just float, though, it actually is lowered and raised by way of a bar down through the pot. (The pot is much heavier than I would have suspected, by the way.) You can see in the promotional video:
Don’t worry about my Zarafina going to waste, now that I have a super nice pot a home, though. I’m taking the old one to work, where my tea will likely continue to be disparaged by coworkers that don’t know what good tea is.
* My brain is usually alert once I’m awake, so the walking dead state in the morning is fairly uncommon. It’s very common with Thrack and I refer to his as the look-at-my-hair-you-can’t-ask-me-questions-like-that-when-my-hair-is-like-this phase. It is not always confined to mornings.