Chef’s Choice TeaMate ™ Made in Germany for Edgecraft Corporation.
This is, in my opinion, the best electric tea brewer ever made. Of course I have not had the opportunity to try ALL the electric automatic tea brewers “ever” made but I have tried quite a few, including some Goblin Teasmade units imported from England.
This appliance was introduced to the U.S. in late 1996 and was featured in several magazine and newspaper articles. I saw an ad and an article about it in late 1996 in Tea, a Magazine (Published by Olde English Tea Company). Being already a collector of tea appliances, teapots, tea accessories, I had to have one.
I purchased a TeaMate 690 in 1997 and about a year later, I purchased this one, for “backup.” I have used them both but this one only when I was away from home for a few weeks (took it with me as it was still in the box and easier to transport).
Unlike other tea brewers, it has a unique function in that it introduces STEAM into the brewing chamber that holds the tea leaves (tea bags are also acceptable) so the leaves “uncurl and expand, exposing more surface area for optimum extraction of flavor and aroma.” Then, “A portion of the just-boiled water steeps tea leaves (or tea bags) for the precise pre-selected time period. And “After steeping cycle, rich tea concentrate combines with the remaining just boiled water and flows into the preheated carafe…ready to pour the ultimate cup of tea!”
AND YOU USE LESS TEA PER CUP THAN WHEN BREWING IN A REGULAR TEA POT! For the full 8 cups, FOUR scant spoons of tea is more than sufficient and with strong black teas, such as the Nilgiri or Assam, I use 3 and the tea is certainly strong enough.
And it is ideal for RE-STEEPING loose teas as many of the PREMIUM FULL-LEAF teas can be steeped multiple times – the brewing time just takes longer, which is why in THIS appliance the brewing time can be a long as 15 minutes! The appliance has to be cold and cold fresh water added to the water chamber for this process to work reliably.
A friend, who bought one of these on my recommendation in 2000, is a fan of Pu-erh tea, a tea that is subjected to extended fermentation and is highly prized in China. She re-steeps the Pu-erh up to TEN TIMES, and says the later infusions are better than the earlier ones. I can’t say as I am NOT a fan of this tea, to me it tastes and smells like mildew – the folks who like it say it has the flavor of “damp forest floor” or “damp wood” and it is not to my taste. (Frankly in some there is an aroma of wet chicken feathers, which really puts me off even attempting to taste it.)
In any event, the multiple steeping of black tea, green tea and especially OOLONGS makes this an advantage when brewing expensive premium teas because with multiple steepings, the cost per cup is significantly reduced.
And you can BLEND your own teas. A spoonful or two of black tea combined with a spoonful of one of the spice mixtures or spice tea mixtures will produce a lovely cup similar to the very popular CHAI teas and you can adjust it to YOUR preference.
I don’t know why this company decided to cease distribution in the U.S. but it is a shame because this was a very good appliance.