I'm basically the curmudgeon of the tea world.
Whenever I see a Kickstarter for some overblown gadget that supposedly makes tea brewing easy, all it seems to do is over-mystify a hobby that is already associated with snobbery or complication. In my opinion all you need is a Finum tea basket, a gaiwan (dude, it's just a bowl with a lid!), or a simple teapot. That's it.
When I saw the ZENS Pi Travel Tea Brewer on Amazon I rolled my eyes and thought "here we go again." However, there was something simple and approachable that perfectly fit my need for an all-in-one brewer for work. At work I don't want to go all out with a tea table, or be sloshing water around with a gaiwan. I've been using my Libre infuser, but I've been finding it increasingly difficult to clean thoroughly due to the long brewing chamber and small crevices near the strainer.
When looking for a brewing vessel there's really just a few things I'm interested in:
- Large brewing chamber for expanding leaves
- Small/sleek design to keep desk clutter down
- No moving parts
- Easy to clean
I was extremely wary about item #3 since I have had bad luck with Adagio IngenuiTEA brewers leaking from not holding their seal and I don't really feel the need for them with gongfu preparation.
What pushed me over the edge in ordering the ZENS Pi, and breaking Rule #3, is that there is only one part - a button that moves a plastic widget to poke up a single ball bearing. I'm not stoked about the plastic widget but the single ball bearing seemed like a genius solution.
After doing some trial runs here's the TL;DR review:
- Modern, all-in-one design
- Large, easy to clean brewing chamber and filter
- Clever ball-bearing device that does not leak
- Double-walled cup portion
- Plastic arm that connects to the button makes me nervous about longevity
- The lip of the cup portion is slightly awkward to drink from
- The lid of the brewing portion does not fit snugly
In conclusion, I think this is still an excellent solution for my work needs and I really love how it's easy to thoroughly clean it.