Teaware: Tea Ave’s Aroma Cup Set

Aroma Cup Set by Tea Ave
Porcelain and Oak
$34.99

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First Impressions

The Aroma Cup Set comes in beautiful packaging. The box itself is sturdy with a lovely texture feel to the outside with the Tea Ave logo in gold. The box stays close due to magnets in the flap. So nice. The aroma cup (tall cup) and the sipping cup (short cup) are nestled inside of the box in a thick black foam cut out that keeps everything safe inside. When you pull out the cups, you can pull out the foam insert. Underneath is a thick piece of black cardboard with a hole for easy removal. Under that is the smooth oak tray. It’s really quite beautiful. The porcelain feels thick and durable, all with a smooth finish. The oak tray is light but feels durable in my hands.

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Preparation

I washed the porcelain pieces with hot water (from the tap) to warm up the pieces before I used them in my first use with the set. I gave the oak tray a light swipe with a damp towel to get off any nonexistant dust on the surface.

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First Use

For my first use of Tea Ave’s Aroma Cup Set, I used a sample of Oriental Beauty that came in my order. I steeped this in my gaiwan for the recommended steeping time. I have a review of Tea Ave’s Oriental Beauty if you’re curious about the oolong that I used.

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I poured the oolong from the gaiwan into the aroma cup. I let the tea sit for about 30 seconds before I placed the sipping cup over top (it looks like a mushroom). What you want to do is pick up both of them together and (holding them tightly together!) then flip it over so that the mushroom is upside down and the sipping cup sits on the tray.

You could also pour it directly from the aroma cup to to sipping cup if you’re not confident in your cup-flipping skills. Safety first!

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After the flip, I let the cups sit for a little while (maybe about 15-20 seconds) before I gently lifted up the aroma cup at an angle. This allows the tea to fill the sipping cup without being a bubbly mess from the air entering the aroma cup.

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Once the tea is in the sipping cup, I alternated sniffing the aroma cup and taking a sip from the sipping cup. As the tea that remains in the aroma cup dries, the smell changes.  For the Oriental Beauty, the smell in the aroma cup got sweeter and more floral as it dried. This adds an extra level of experience to a tea session. Aroma cups are generally used for teas that have complex flavour and aroma profiles, like oolongs.

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For an intense steeping session, you can continue to refill the aroma cup (and then transfer to the sipping cup) for as long as you’re steeping your tea. And for some oolongs, that can go for quite a while, especially the ones that hold up for multiple resteeps.

Overall Impression

Tea Ave’s Aroma Cup Set is darling, useful, and fun. I think it would make a great gift for someone (or to yourself) because it comes in gift-ready packaging. Using the aroma cup helps add an extra layer of experience to tea as you drink it, which I think is so important to exploring the nuances in teas – especially oolongs. I’ve used this set multiple times now and always with oolongs because I find those resteep the best, and if I’m going to pull out extra tea ware, I better be able to resteep my tea. The presentation of the Aroma Cup Set made me feel like I was unboxing something luxurious, and the pieces feel like they’re durable and high quality.

Teaware: Breville’s the IQ Kettle

The IQ Kettle by Breville
Five temperature settings
1.8L (2 quart) capacity
MSRP $199.99

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This post contains affiliate links – One More Steep makes a small commission from purchases made with no additional costs to yourself.

When I moved, I was in the market for a new kettle. This was for a few reasons, the primary one being that the stove top in my new place is glass top and doesn’t evenly heat things unless it has a completely flat bottom (of which the kettle I had access to did not). That and I love drinking tea, and the idea of being able to select a temperature setting that was ideal for whichever tea I was drinking was a concept I could get behind.

I had asked my friends on Facebook to see which kettles they were using – the Breville IQ and a Cuisinart kettle were the ones mentioned, both in comments and in private messages. After reading many reviews, I decided to get the Breville. I ordered mine off of Amazon.ca for less than MRSP with free shipping. This has been, without a doubt, the most expensive item I’ve bought related to my love of tea so far.

First Impressions

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The IQ Kettle comes in a sturdy cardboard box. There’s not a terrible amount of internal packaging – some cardboard forms that hold the kettle and the base in place, along with a manual (in English and French). There’s no styrofoam, which I appreciate from a recycling/green point of view.

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A nice feature of the kettle is that the IQ Kettle has a 1.8L (2 quart) capacity. There are clear indicator windows on both sides that have measurements for either metric or imperial. The minimum amount of water needed to use the kettle is 500mL or 2 cups, the maximum is 1800mL or 8 cups. It has 5 temperature settings: green (175°F), white (185°F), oolong (195°F), French press (200°F), and boil/black tea (212°F). There is a keep warm option, which keeps the water at the temperature for 20 minutes.

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The base plugs into the wall, the outlet has a loop which is apparently meant to make it easier to unplug the kettle. I don’t find it any easier or more difficult to use compared to a regular plug. The IQ Kettle also comes with a removable scale filter – it has a stainless steel filter with a plastic frame. I don’t live in an area with heavy water, so I don’t anticipate any build up on a regular basis to be cleaned off of this.

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First Use

When in use, the outside of the IQ Kettle does get a little hot – the handle remains cool to the touch when the water is being heated. Because of the heat, I would recommend only using the handle when wanting to handle the kettle (don’t use your hand to support the body of the kettle).

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As you can see in an earlier photo, it comes with default English text and temperatures in Fahrenheit. Mine came with a sheet of stickers for French text, since I am in Canada. There were no stickers for temperatures in Celsius. I don’t mind this too much because I often choose temperatures based on the type of tea. There is no option to select your own temperatures, but it does cover a fair number of choices that I don’t think that is too much of an issue.

The IQ Kettle makes three beeping noises when the water is done reaching the desired temperature, and it isn’t too noisy or grating. The buttons light up to the selection and when the water is heating, the Start/Cancel button is red. Otherwise when the kettle is in use, the buttons light up white.

I did test the IQ Kettle to see how long it would take to heat up water. When heating up 750mL (3 cups) of water on the green tea setting, it took 2 minutes and 23 seconds. When heating up the same amount of water on the black tea (boil) setting, it took 3 minutes and 34 seconds.

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A neat feature with the IQ Kettle that I like is the button that opens the lid. I’ve had kettles before where when you push the button, the lid just pops open because it’s held in by a spring. The IQ Kettle lid opens slowly, so there’s no risk of water flying into your face – always a nice plus!

Overall Impression

The Breville IQ Kettle is not the cheapest variable temperature kettle out there on the market. There are a lot of different types of variable temperature kettles – all with different volume capacities and temperature options. I really like the IQ Kettle for ease of use, and it covers the temperatures that I use most frequently, so it fits the needs that I have. It does have a high MRSP at $199.99, so I would recommend looking for it on sale. I think it is great though, and it does everything that I’m looking for in a kettle so I’m happy with the purchase because it makes steeping tea a breeze.

 

Teaware: DavidsTea’s Tea For One

Tea For One (White) by DavidsTea
Glass and Porcelain
$25.00 each

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First Impressions

I got my Tea For One as part of an online promotion that DavidsTea was having (spend $75 or more and receive a free Tea For One), so I received this in the mail. The packaging is quite sturdy – it comes in a nice cube box that has some details about the product on either side in English and French. The DavidsTea website claims that the cup is ceramic in the title of the product, but in the description it is porcelain, while the packaging states that it is porcelain – ceramic and porcelain are not the same thing! Both are made of clay and fired in a kiln, but porcelain is more refined clay. The majority of the descriptions state porcelain, so I’m going to assume it is actually made of porcelain. The infuser is stainless steel.

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The tea pot holds 600ml (20oz) and the cup holds 200ml (6.7oz), which is a fairly decent amount. I find that the tea pot doesn’t sit well in the cup because it can rock. But the material feels sturdy, I’m sure it’d break if dropped, but it has nice smooth edges on all the parts that you can touch.

Preparation

Prior to using my Tea For One, I hand washed it in warm soapy water. The bottom of the tea cup states that it is microwave and dishwasher safe. There are no markings on the glass tea pot or stainless steel infuser. Because of the delicate nature of the product, I would opt to hand wash it always anyways.

First Use

I used my Tea For One when I was steeping some oolong (review coming soon!). There was exactly one little piece of tea leaf that escaped the stainless steel infuser on all five of the steepings that I did, I feel that the infuser did a really good job overall. The stainless steel infuser itself does not have a little tab to remove it with, but I find that the edges extend just enough that I can remove it and it did not burn my fingers.

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The tea pot itself does get hot (it is not double-walled), but the handle remains cool to the touch. The stem of the tea pot lid remains cool, there’s a small hole for venting in the lid as well. The lid of the tea pot does sit nicely in the tea pot with and without the infuser in place.

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Overall Impression

I love the DavidsTea’s Tea For One. I think that it’s very cute and functions well. While I wish that the tea pot and tea cup fit better together when stacked, I don’t think it matters to me that much that I would rate the product lower. I like the fact that the infuser does have holes on the bottom, and it did a fantastic job of keeping tea leaves out of my cup of tea. I think that DavidsTea could do a better job in the description of the product (ceramic, porcelain), but the fact that the product comes in sturdy packaging and functions as promised does help a lot. I think it is good value for $25.00 and it makes for a more enjoyable tea experience and for better solo tea parties.

Teaware: DavidsTea’s Tea Filters

Being able to make my own tea bags out of any type of loose tea to take it to go is a really nice concept. It makes it easier to remove the tea leaves when they’re done steeping, and to also make it easier to travel with as I can make the tea bags in advance. I’ve been using the DavidsTea brand of tea filters. There’s often a package of 10 filters in some tea collections, and they also come in boxes of 20 or 100. I opted for the 100 count box because it worked out cheaper ($5 for 20 or $10 for 100).

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The packaging mentions that the filters are “made with biodegradable, chlorine free, compostable manilla hemp”. Having it be biodegradable is important to me – I go through so much tea that it just makes sense to be able to put the entire thing into green waste when I’m done with it, rather than having to separate wet tea leaves from a filter bag.

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The back of the boxes show the simple 3 step process – pour tea into the bag, pull the drawstring, and then steep the tea. It’s a fairly easy process.

Some things I like about the filters:

  • Clean design, they’re easy to use
  • I really like that they are compostable and will biodegrade rather than sitting in the landfill

Some things I don’t like about the filters:

  • I tend to set my tea bag aside in a small dish when I’m done steeping (and I will often resteep tea leaves shortly after the cup is done), but the moisture from the wet tea leaves will wick up the bag and up the string, leaving me with a wet string to touch. I know it’s science and DavidsTea has noting to do with the law of capillary action, but it still bugs me.

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