Single Serve Tea Anyone?
Single serve tea anyone? ;-) We know you can make single serve tea with your Tassimo and Keurig single serve coffee brewers but you can't make loose leaf tea. Making tea with loose leaf tea is just as much as a pain as making a pot of regular old grind and brew coffee. It looks like Affinitea brewing technologies has created a simple and easy way to create hand crafted loose-leaf tea single serve beverages with their new Affinitea (think infinity) tea machine.
"Affinitea announces its entry into the home tea brewer market. Affinitea is a company whose revolutionary and proprietary AP (Agitation and Pressure) Infusion Process enables consumers with the ability to create hand crafted loose-leaf tea or herbal beverages within 30-50 seconds. The patented combination of pressure and agitation makes the modification of the tealeaf unnecessary. While Tassimo, Melitta, Keurig and Falvia depend on coffee technology to brew tea, Affinitea took the opposite approach and developed a process just for large leaf tea and herbs. Any tea lover that has ever witnessed majesty of an unfolding tealeaf knows it just isn’t right to put this beautifully organic plant in a bag or a pod. How would it unfold in the pod? Why can’t I just see the leaves?"
Via PR Web at Affinitea
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Posted by Jay Brewer at November 1, 2005 7:46 AM
A tea shop in my area has an Affinitea and I went down there to try it. I spent about an hour with the owner playing with the machine and we did some side by side brews, the machine versus traditional steeping. We tried a high quality white tea, green tea, black tea, and herbal tea. I thought the tea from traditional steeping and from the machine were both quite good, though I don't feel the machine's results were superior. If anything the edge went a little bit in favor of traditional steeping, at least for the green and white teas. Keep in mind though that in a test like this it's hard to achieve an identical degree of extraction. To do that we'd have to spend a lot more than an hour experimenting. So any differences in taste we observed were most likely due to a difference in amount of extraction that we achieved in each case, and in no way can I be confident we got the machine to produce it's best possible result. If I'd have had more time I would have liked to run the same kind of tea through the machine more than once, with different settings of the valve that controls the brew pressure (this is basically what adjusts the degree of extraction).
One drawback of the machine is that it doesn't let you change brew temperature, something you ideally do want to do when changing between white, green, black, and herbal teas. On the plus side it's pressure valve, located below the portafilter, does let you control the degree of extraction (equivalent of changing steeping time) but the range you can achieve appears to be less than you can achieve with traditional steeping.
I think the Affinitea's greatest virtue is that it's faster than traditional steeping; however I think this is only a practical advantage in a shop. It's true it takes all of a minute to pull a tea drink on the machine, but that's saving you all of one or two minutes versus traditional steeping depending on whether you drink green or black tea. Maybe for herbals which want to steep longer you save another couple minutes. If you're making 100 drinks a day the savings becomes material, but for maybe 2-3 teas a day?
I hope I'm not sounding down on the machine--I think it's very cool and does what it sets out to do, which I think is mainly to allow for high volume production of loose lease tea drinks in a quality way (about as good as normal steeping). For home use though it's harder to see the compelling advantages, except in homes that host a lot of tea parties. I think if they came out with a smaller, less expensive model and one that allows for per drink temperature adjustment it would be a different story. Currently there is nothing on the market that lets you optimize tea brewing temperature, and doing this manually is a bit of a hassle.
Anyhow, what I find works super well at home is to put tea leaves in an empty tea filter bag (one brand is called T-sacs) and run that through my Bunn pod brewer. This produces a great cup of tea even a little more quickly than the Affinitea, and it's a little easier to clean up.
I make whole leaf tea in my B60 using the My K-Cup. I fill the basket with tea, run a 6oz. serving through, then wait a little bit and run another 6 oz. serving through. It turns out pretty good for my tastes, but I'm not a huge tea afficianado.