Using The Right Teaware The Right Way

by Jason on August 2, 2012

in Member Content, review

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In June of 2012, industry leaders gathered for a panel discussion at World Tea Expo. World Tea News chronicled the panel’s estimation that  tea sales in North America would beat coffee sales by the year 2017.

What will that mean for tea we drink at home, at work, or at school?

There is a growing trend to reject the coffee maker and instant tea. This will be a welcome cultural change, producing greater states of “relaxed alertness,” that will result in efficient mental productivity.

This raises other questions regarding the delivery system for tea and heightened mental states.

Based on feedback from WTR readers and my personal experience, I scored several tools according to:

Durability: how long does the teaware last? How fragile is it?

Pour: how smoothly does it pour or serve? Is it going to leave your desk with puddles of tea?

Serving size: How much tea liquor do these items generally create at one steeping?

Clean up: Is it easy to clean out used tea leaves? What about washing away any stains or residues?

Cost: This can vary greatly, but overall, which of these items are more expensive?

Now a few comments about some of these items as used in a workplace:

Fillable tea bags: easy disposal, but what do you do with the bag if you have to take it out of your cup and re-steep it later? Works best with a cheaper or one-steep kind of leaf. Not best for wulongs, pu’ers, or teas that reveal layers of character across multiple steepings.

Traveller tumbler: like the Piao I Travel Buddy or the Libre Tea Glass n Poly. A range of prices to consider, but I generally avoid the combination of plastic and hot liquid. You also have to consider mess factors if it leaks. Cleaning stains and residues is not the easiest in a narrow cylinder. Not the most convenient if you are going to commit to using the same leaves for multiple steepings.

Strainer pot: Great for getting multiple steepings. Many versions pour well as pitchers. Price and quality often range from low to high with Kamjove, Tea Time Trading Co., and Piao I. And that quality becomes a factor when the filtration area, strain valve, or other parts fail. Here plastics may be a key factor if you are avoiding BPA.  I never can get to all the tea stained areas of my strainer pots, and I don’t like cloudy brown glass or plastic.

Gaiwan: Easy to clean. A decent volume if it is big enough. Porcelain, so less fragile than glass but you still have to be careful. A smooth, clean pour may require some practice. But the gaiwan is quite versatile. Some of the better priced gaiwans I found were on Ebay. Contact me: jason@walkerteareview if you need pointers on choosing one.

Yixing pot: Nothing says executive-level like a nice yixing pot on your desk. The kind of quality that will really enhance your tea will likely require an investment of over $50, and easily well beyond. Relatively simple to clean, and can improve with use. The biggest catch is that using a pot often means dedicating it to use with one kind (e.g. pu’er, wulong, green) of tea.

Tea-making kettle: Functionality and prices can range from the simpler Aroma kettle to the Breville 800XL. I would at least look for one with an auto shut-off when the water reaches the desired temperature. My second upgrade would be to one that has temperature settings. I would not go all-out for one that makes the tea for you. I have yet to find an automated process that delivers optimal taste.

How would you rate these at work? At school? At home?

Compare teas with others on the Scoresheet.
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