Thinktea’s Matcha Set

Matcha Set by Thinktea
Ceramic, Bamboo, and Oak

First Impressions

Last year, I was wanting to branch out and start preparing and reviewing matcha at home, which is the primary reason why I purchased this set from Thinktea (a brand available via Stokes Stores). This four piece matcha set consists of a matcha bowl (ceramic), whisk (100 bamboo prongs), a long handled bamboo scoop, and a Japanese oak spoon (where 1 spoon = ½ teaspoon). The one piece that I would say it probably missing is something to sift the powder to break up any clumps prior to whisking.

All the pieces seem pretty solid, the bowl has a lovely floral design on the inside and outside of the bowl. I’m not that familiar with what the difference is between the scoop and the spoon, so I’m not sure why both would needed.


I gave everything a quick rinse under hot tap water prior to usage, you just never know how long everything’s been sitting in storage for or how many people handled it.

First Use

I am not a matcha expert, nor do I play one on television. The first time I used this matcha set, I used the scoop to transfer the matcha to the bowl and I wound up spilling some on my counter. I found the oak spoon a lot easier to use (and less spillage!), so my novice self thinks that the reason why both are included is that one is for novice matcha makers and one is for more experienced tea ceremony masters.

I whisked the matcha in an M (or W) motion until it seems well mixed and has some bubbles on top. You do have to whisk quite vigorously to get some foam action happening, so it’s both an exercise in making matcha and a small arm workout. I learned about preparing matcha from Kimmy of Whisk Matcha (when I met her at the 2017 Vancouver Tea Festival) so I’m somewhat confident that I’m doing it somewhat properly.

Overall Impression

I loved Thinktea’s Matcha Set. I kind of wish it came with some instructions for the very novice beginner, but I think for $29.99, it makes for a great beginner set. If you’re new to matcha, you don’t necessarily want to be spending a lot of money in your teaware right away because what if you decide that you don’t like matcha or you decide that your preferred way to prepare matcha is in smoothie.

For $29.99, you get a bowl, spoon, and scoop that’ll last you for quite a while (possibly forever if you don’t drop or break anything), and a whisk that’ll be decent for whisking up some ceremonial matcha. You could easily spend that much on a fancy matcha bowl alone (or a lot more). Of the four piece set, the only item that I can see having to be repeatedly replace would be the whisk, since it’s not meant to last forever, which makes this Matcha Set a modest investment in my matcha journey.

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Tea Ave’s Aroma Cup Set

Aroma Cup Set by Tea Ave
Porcelain and Oak


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.





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.


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.


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!



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.


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.


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.

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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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 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


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.