The Brewlux™ product that The Tea Spot is distributing is a concept patented by my brother and me. The initial inspiration for the product, however, came out of a brainstorm that included his wife, Karen, and my daughter, Laura. The funniest part of the story though is that Brewlux™ might never have come about if Ohio eisweins were more to my liking.
My brother, Alex, lived midway between where my daughters were doing their undergraduate work in Oberlin, Ohio and Rochester, New York. I liked to take the opportunity to visit them all in one trip, and particularly enjoyed our fall gatherings in this beautiful, rural area of Northeastern Ohio. Two years ago, we were enjoying a gorgeous brisk and sunny day touring the wineries in Ashtabula County. This region specializes in eiswein, which is a kind of extreme form of late harvest wine. The grapes are left to hang on the vine long after the usual moment of harvest. But whereas late harvest wines are commonly brought in from the vineyard in the fall, grapes destined to make eiswein are left until winter fastens an icy grip on the vines. This makes for an exceptionally sweet dessert wine.
After our fourth or fifth winery, we stopped to get some pizza in a large, old stone winery. The wonderful pizza aromas emanating from the giant oven were delectable. They were offering eiswein to taste while you waited for your pie! However, I had had enough of the eisweins, and became almost desperate for a great cup of tea. Needless to say, that wasn’t an option at this pizza-winery. All I could do was complain and fantasize about my loose-leaf tea.
Being engineers, my brother and I started to scribble and draw up designs on a napkin. Our loose-leaf tea would need to have sufficient room to expand, you should be able to brew it in a standard to-go cup, and it could not contribute to the landfill issue. Lots of ideas, more eiswein, and a delicious pizza later, we were on our way home and stopped at a convenience store, where we found a set of 10 styrofoam cups and lids. Drawing, cutting, and designing into the night, we had a few concepts completed by the end of the weekend. Alex got them into a computer-aided design model right away.
For our work that weekend and since, we have just been granted a Small Business Innovative Research Grant by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to do market research into commercializing the Brewlux™. Two years into the development process, and many iterations later, we’re still always working on optimizing the next generation model. Right now, though, we are fully able to serve folks a legitimate cup of loose-leaf tea to-go in our fully biodegradable Brewlux™ filters.
Thank you Alex, Karen, and Laura, … and I should add Ashtabula County, Ohio and the USDA.