Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Product Review - Zarafina Tea Maker Suite

(Update II)
Here's some additional perspective on the Zarafina, courtesy of Gongfu Girl.

If you've ever considered buying a Sunbeam Tea Drop Tea Maker, you might want to check out this piece, recently posted at one of the Wired blogs. Not that "Useless Piece of Garbage" is necessarily a bad thing.

(Update I)
Since reviewing Zarafina's Tea Maker Suite nearly a month ago it's become my tea brewing apparatus of choice. For some insight on how it stacks up against Adagio's TriniTEA (which I haven't tried yet), check out this review at the Tea on Tap site.

(Original Post)
Product Review
Tea Maker Suite

It would seem that they're onto something, these Zarafina people.

I tried to approach this review with an open mind, but I couldn't help being just a bit skeptical about the Tea Maker Suite. After all, the making of a truly good cup of tea can be a rather intricate process, one that can hardly be trusted to a mere piece of machinery, regardless of how many bells and whistles it's outfitted with.

Or can it? Actually, the Zarafina gang seems to have pulled off this rather tricky feat. I've now used the contraption to make a number of varieties of tea. Each time I raised the cup to my lips, expecting to be disappointed, and each time I was pleasantly surprised. I'm actually thinking about giving up my old way of making tea - cheap stovetop kettle and infuser basket - for the Tea Maker Suite.

Which is kind of convenient, now that you mention it. Set a few controls, add water and tea and flick a switch. No worries about over or understeeping the leaves, nor will I ever have to concern myself again with a forgotten tea kettle wreaking havoc on the kitchen (yes, it's happened).

The Tea Maker Suite has a sleek and pleasing appearance and was apparently designed by someone who "speaks" tea. It has three controls - one for loose and (if you must) bagged tea, a strength setting and a switch for choosing between white, green, oolong and black tea and tisanes.

Operation is fairly simple, with one or two cups of water going into a steeping chamber, which also holds a floating infuser basket that actually contains the leaves or bag. Snap the steeping chamber into the base of the unit, flick a switch and go about your business. A few minutes later the tea automatically dispenses into a ceramic pot (included).

Most important of all, as I've mentioned, is that the tea that results from this process is quite good - better, on the whole, than many of my haphazard attempts using the kettle/infuser method. Cleanup is relatively quick and painless too, as is steeping your leaves multiple times.

At $149.99 the Tea Maker Suite probably won't appeal to casual tea drinkers, but if you're serious about tea it might be worth your while.

For more information, including a demo video, check out the Zarafina Web site.

The Icon of the American Epicurean Experience

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1 comment:

Ryan Stewart said...

You should be getting kick backs on this :). I saw you mention it and went out to buy one the next day. I love it.

Great blog too, the only tea blog I have time to read (or need to).