Food and Food: Home Cookin'06 Feb 2009 07:24 pm

I do not have a lot of room in the kitchen for gadgets. We do not have a coffee maker as we do not drink coffee. As much as I yearn for one, we do not have room for a KitchenAid mixer. Atleast I can use the one my parents have!

On our counter sits a toaster. In a cupboard, a meat grinder and Cuisinart hand blender. That’s all we have, besides pots and pans. I did not even have a tea kettle until recently. That was a gift from my mom when I boiled a pot of water dry. I thought I might save the pot, but when I picked it up to clean it, the bottom dropped clean off. We all thought a whistling kettle might be best for me from then on.

However, when in the market for a new teapot, I discovered that there was a fantastic new gadget for tea freaks: a tea maker.

I know tea making sounds like a simple procedure and you think I’m crazy for buying into this notion of “useless kitchen item.” Tea is easy, right? Boil water, drop in teabag, steep, drink. However, some of the new teas we have recently purchased require some specific instructions. Instructions that should be followed, as the teas were not cheap. There are certain temperatures and steep times that should be adhered to for maximum enjoyment. That’s where the tea makers come into play.

There are a few makers on the market. Some just boil the water to certain temperatures; glorified tea kettles. Others are more complex and basically brew the tea for you.

Unfortunately, only one kind is currently available in Canada, at least where I live: Zarafina’s Tea Maker Suite. I bought it at Home Outfitters for $119.99; about the same as a coffee maker.

The machine is amazing. It brews perfect pots of tea for two. I’ve made black and white teas in it so far, bagged and loose, with oolong and greens to be tried this weekend.

There is no bitterness, acridness or unsettling tastes. I don’t fiddle with thermometers and ice cubes trying to get the best water temperature. In 3-10 minutes, depending on what kind of tea and how strong I want it, I have a hot pot of tea.

The many different settings of the Zarafina

Although it is a bit pricey, I rationalized the purchase by considering how few gadgets I really had in the kitchen, and how much tea we were drinking. The ‘suite’ takes up a small amount of room on the counter, but comes with a neat tray to enable easy transport. It would be a great gift for someone interested in getting into teas.

Also available:

Teavana’s Gourmet Tea Maker ($299.99, only available in the U.S.)
Adagio TriniTEA
($99, only available in the U.S.)
I believe Sunbeam makes one as well, but the reviews are poor.

Several users on YouTube have put up demo videos of most makers available. Many tea bloggers also run side-by-side reviews of the different machines.

3 Responses to “Kitchen Gadget: Zarafina Tea Maker”

  1. on 07 Feb 2009 at 10:22 am Mark

    That is tremendously nifty. How easy is it to clean for loose tea?

  2. on 07 Feb 2009 at 12:19 pm Kelly

    Mark: Pretty easy. Some people complain that some of the very fine leaves get through the mesh basket, but I have not had that problem as of yet. Maybe the teas I use aren’t superfine. Everything comes apart, and although it is not totally dishwasher safe like the TriniTEA, a quick rinse and once weekly baking soda wash will probably suffice.

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