As one of the most popular beverages in the U.S., our collective love of tea can be traced back to the British monopoly on tea that led to the American colonists’ objection to paying related taxes. Still, there are fewer smart teapots and brewing machines than coffee brewers and espresso makers on the market today, reported Digital Trends. And when it comes to loose-leaf tea, chances are good that most consumers have never experienced a perfectly brewed cup, or explored beyond the sad teabag slung into a scalding hot cup of unfiltered tap water.
“Even for enthusiasts, most of us simply resort to a thermometer and a good clear pot. When we go out, we expect little more than a selection of tisanes and bagged teas, followed by water of unknown temperature to steep it in. No more.”
Allen Han, co-founder and CEO of the Teforia infuser device, told Gigaom that tea is actually similar to wine and different terrains produce different types of tea. Han reportedly developed the idea for a smart tea infusion device after experiencing yet another sub-par cup of loose-leaf tea at a coffee shop.
“Tea adds another level of complexity beyond wine because tea has four seasons in which they harvest.”
Han says the key lies in the process of brewing the loose-leaf tea, which should take boiling temperatures and steeping time into account. In addition, tea has hundreds of different flavor profiles and dozens of infusing possibilities, while each season of the year actually adds a different flavor to the tea it produces.
The Teforia infuser employs a precise infusion processes, machine-learning and a wide open system to ensure the perfect cup of tea every time and loose-leaf tea is measured using compostable pods that are much more sustainable than the plastic K-cups made famous by Keurig. Han says the pods are equipped with RFID tags that pull tea information and precise recipes from the Internet when users place the pod on a reader on top of the machine, which brews in phases of infusion.
“Instead of doing one single-batch of tea… we’ll divide that into multiple infusions, and that’s part of our Selective Infusion Profile System (SIPS) Technology. We do that because tea is actually very complicated, and there’s actually 200+ different chemical compounds in there. Each set of chemicals we call a ‘profile’ and these could impart a flavor.”
Han left his work as a product designer for Microsoft, HTC, and Amazon to focus on creating a way to brew the perfect cup of tea, a process that is culturally important to him. He also really enjoys drinking a great cup of loose-leaf tea and enjoys learning about the entire process. Teforia has been working with a variety of different boutique family tea estates in Taiwan for several years, on a mission to improve the quality of flavors and the health benefits of tea, which is largely missing in the scalded brews we consume.
“I’ve always wanted to witness the tea-making process from start to finish. In spring of 2015, during one of my trips to Taiwan, I got a call from one of the tea masters we work with immediately after landing in Taipei from the 12-hour trans-Pacific flight.”
After allowing the Teforia diffuser to scan and read the coded biodegradable containers, users simply pour the loose-leaf tea into the infuser and let the diffuser finish the process. It can even learn to recognize a loose-leaf tea or tisane that is not currently curated by Teforia, simply by entering the size, color and shape of the leaves into the app, which can also share the recipe on the Teforia online community.
[Photo by Christopher Furlong / Getty Images]