After water, tea is the world's favorite beverage, yet to the gadget-producing fraternity, it's cruelly ignored in favor of coffee machines. Thankfully, the folks at Cambridge Consultants are trying to remedy this with the Tê, a machine that promises to whip up a perfect brew in two minutes. Naturally, as your humble narrator is a milquetoast European correspondent, we were compelled to see if it could live up to its impressive claims. Grab a Chocolate HobNob and join us after the break.
Cambridge Consultants is a product development company from the UK that solves problems for its clients. Any company can roll up and ask for it to develop a gadget tailored to its needs, but every now and again it constructs something just for itself. That's the motivation behind the Tê. While tea ampules are available for machines like the Nespresso and Tassimo, they use a wholly-incompatible coffee-brewing process to make your drink. Unlike the roasted beans, tea needs to sit (or "steep") for five or six minutes before it's properly drinkable.
Unlike traditional units, the tea pod is spun inside a chamber of water just off the boil. The centrifugal force draws the fluid through the chamber and promises to brew a perfect cup in two minutes. Of course, by agitating the leaves, you run the risk of beating out tannins (the color) rather than the flavor. The company has gotten around this by oxygenating the water, which is why you should always boil fresh water, as the oxygen evens out the flavor.
Five employees worked around 2,000 hours to build the unit, and the company is hopeful that a tea or gadget company will agree to produce a commercial version of the hardware. Of course, when that happens, it'll still take between 12 and 24 months before we'll see this hitting store shelves, but the company is clear that this won't be arriving on the cheap end of the market.
Of course, what you're all desperate to know is how does it taste? Given our experience of other machine-made tea, we weren't expecting much, but were tremendously pleased with the results. It even tastes good enough to drink without milk, something that we've never been able to tolerate with our near-20 years of experience with the beverage.In fact, we're quite sad that we won't be enjoying more of this brew in the near future. If you'd like to catch the thing in action, we strongly suggest you catch the video.
Steve Dent contributed to this report.