Last month I wrote about some of our favorite tea tools based on an object’s simplicity / elegance, ease of use, efficiency, and multitasking ability.  Yes, there are a lot of “in-betweens,” that is, tea gadgets that we don’t love, but don’t strongly dislike (plastic to-go tea tumblers with oddly placed strainers come to mind), but below are objects that baffle me as to why anyone would use these when faced with a choice of better options.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/charlesonflickr/3811923553/This month, as we move into the gift-buying season and as you reflect on possible good sellers on your shelves or what to buy your loved ones, you may want to consider the following:

  1. French Coffee Press: Yes, there are some slicker, pricier press pots out there, but all too often in restaurants and even some tearooms / houses I see the traditional version being used.  You know, the one where you press the leaves down (releasing additional bitter polyphenols) and let the tea liquor sit on top of the tea leaves, divided only by the strainer?  Oversteeped tea = not good.
  2. “Perfect Tea” Measuring Spoon, aka Junk Drawer Clutter: You spend good money on those leaves, and a lot of hard work went into bringing them to you.  Take a minute to learn how much tea to use by weight (or simply experiment).  Then measure the volume using your eyes and feel in your hand and between your fingers. Once you make this knowledge your own, you’ll have it the rest of your life, so scales or spoons are never needed.  We use a gram scale at the teahouse for consistency’s sake, but at home, this is a good skill to foster.
  3. Teaballs, Mesh or Metal, and Clamp-Style Teaspoons: Aside from the fact that your larger-leafed teas won’t be able to fully expand and your cut-leaf tea bits will flow out of the mesh / little holes into your liquor, fiddling with trying to properly open and close these things while making sure the tea doesn’t spill out is an added negative to using these for me.  Messy, hard to clean, and ineffective.
  4. Iced Tea Makers with Teeny Tiny Infusers Located near the Top of the Pot: How are you going to make a decent pot of iced tea with a tiny infuser that doesn’t even have enough space for the dry leaves, much less the expanded ones?  And don’t get me started on the plastic ones with the tiny holes (escaping broken bits of tea continue to steep).  Not only is the plastic not durable (we’ve tested many), it stains easily and is a BIG pain to clean.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, as I’m always looking for new, streamlined ways of doing things!

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