Thursday, 19 October 2017
Reviews

Tech review: Beautiful Teforia Leaf makes the perfect cup, but do you need a $400 machine to boil water?


I’m a tea drinker.

Seeing that it’s summertime, I drink iced tea every day.

But in the cooler months, I enjoy a cup hot.

I find the ritual of making it very relaxing.

There’s something about picking out a tea, heating the water, steeping, waiting and then enjoying the tea that makes me happy.

If there were a high-tech way to make tea, I wasn’t aware of it. But I was made aware of a countertop tea infuser called the Teforia Leaf that’s been happily brewing in my kitchen for the last few weeks.

The Leaf is as beautiful a gadget as I’ve ever reviewed. The infuser looks lovingly designed and it comes packaged in custom-sewn protective bags.

Apple’s Jony Ive couldn’t have designed a better-looking infuser.

The Leaf is actually Teforia’s second-generation infuser, replacing the Teforia Classic. The Leaf and Classic share the same design, but at $399, the Leaf costs less than half the price of the Classic.

It would be easy to describe the Leaf as a Keurig for tea, but that wouldn’t be doing it justice.

The previous generation Classic let users use their own teas.

The Teforia Leaf uses its own proprietary tea pods called Sips.

Each Leaf comes with a keepsake box with 15 Sips in differing varieties.

The Leaf is about the size of a coffee maker. It has a baseball-sized infusion globe and a carafe that are both double-walled. The interior is glass while the outside is plastic. Both stayed cool to the touch, but the carafe will keep the tea at the proper drinking temperature for up to an hour.

Each Sip infusion brews 12 ounces of tea. You can reinfuse the Sips for up to 16 hours from the first infusion, when the pod expires.

According to the Teforia website, “You are welcome to use the Sips for as many carafes as you find enjoyment, but please note that taste will differ in each carafe.”

The Leaf has a pretty large water reservoir with a replaceable water filter. The reservoir lifts out for easy cleaning and filling, but if you are going to keep the Leaf under a cabinet, you’ll want to fill it with a measuring cup or you’ll be dragging it out to pull up and remove the reservoir.

Once you select the flavor, you touch the Sips’ cover to a spot on the Leaf’s lid. There is a chip in each Sip to tell the Leaf what type of tea is being infused.

There are no obvious buttons. There are several indicator icons that light up to show the status of various parts of the infusion.

A small start button glows on the bottom of the Leaf to start the brew. Several types of Sips allow the user to select a brewing method that increases the tea’s caffeine level. If a tea’s caffeine level is variable, you’ll see two start button lights – one for normal caffeine, the other for the caffeine boost.

The infusion is a unique process. The hot water is introduced to the globe four ounces at a time. The water and tea meet and steep for a bit and then the mix is bubbled with some air to keep the tea leaves moving around before the tea is released into the carafe. There are three infusions for each 12-ounce carafe of tea, and the process takes four to six minutes.

Looking at the tea section of the Teforia website, I counted more than 25 tea varieties. Sips cost $1 and $6 each, and there are several types of themed boxes. You can buy a monthly subscription for a 10 percent discount.

Categories of tea include black, green, white, yellow, breakfast, chai, herbal and oolong.

Instead of the Keurig method of the water running through the pod, the Sips are torn open and the loose leaf tea is poured into the globe to infuse, which I like because you can see and smell the leaves. The packaging of the bags is recyclable and compostable.

There is a connected aspect to the Leaf, but I didn’t find it very useful.

You use the app to get your Leaf onto your home’s Wi-Fi network.

The Teforia app has sections for the latest news from the company, a tea pantry to research different types of tea, a shop to buy Sips and a section about your infuser.

The app will let you see the status of the globe, carafe and water reservoir, check the life left in the filter and initiate a cleaning cycle.

Teforia can also transmit new tea recipes to your Leaf over the air.

What I didn’t find was a way to start a brewing cycle remotely, but with a limited lifespan of the Sips pod once you scan it, I can see why that might not be advisable.

Setting the tea to brew when you are away from the kitchen might sound cool, but since the time to infuse is only six minutes, waiting is not a huge problem.

Bottom line – the app is nice enough, but you don’t need it to brew tea. In fact, I’d brewed two Sips before I even loaded the app.

So do you need a $400 tea infuser?

No, you don’t. But if you like tea, I can tell you that it’s a very cool gadget that makes great tea.

I look at it this way – I like BBQ, and I have a smoker at home that cost almost as much as the Leaf, and I only use the smoker once a month, if I’m lucky, so who am I to say $400 is too much to follow one of your passions?



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