Saturday, February 13, 2016

Tea Tech: TeaBOT, I'll have a half-caf of decaf with a twist of lemon!

A short time ago, I was asked for my opinion on the teas offered by a company called TeaBOT. I had never heard of TeaBOT, but I was intrigued after visiting their website and watching a video demonstrating their product. TeaBOT is a local company, and one of their kiosks just happened to be planted downtown on the grounds at the University of Toronto. I went out to investigate!

I, TeaBOT!

Pick a tea, any tea!

The TeaBOT kiosk is the tea lover’s answer to the coffee vending machine. It dispenses your choice of blended teas which you pay on the spot using credit card or debit card all in the absence of an actual human being. Here are the basic steps:
  1.   Pick a desired tea by choosing one of the popular blends or make your own
  2.   Select the concentration of the tea blends to combine 
  3.   Choose the strength and water temperature or go with the suggested recommendation
  4.   Grab a cup and place it under the spouts, pay, and watch your tea dispense
  5.   Add sugar if needed, place a filtered lid on your cup, and enjoy your beverage

This Oolong is Nuts for me!

Some of this, some of that!

Ready to go!

I chose a popular blend called “This Oolong is Nuts”, which was a mixture of Masala Chai and a Caramel Nut Oolong. I went with a 40% Masala Chai and 60% Oolong ratio, at regular strength, with a water temperature of 83°C. After paying by credit card, and requesting that a receipt of my order details be e-mailed to me, I then placed a cup under the spouts and excitedly watched the magic begin! 

You could really see the ingredients of the tea and smell the spices. I waited for about 5 minutes to allow for proper infusion before drinking. The filtered lids provided were great! It made for easy sipping by separating the particles from being consumed. Though, I wondered if it was a good idea to let 
the tea leaves stew away in the cup.

Have a look!

Pretty cool system I gotta say! Now about my tea. I found my drink bland, weak, and flavourless. It seemed as though I were drinking warm water. Perhaps I should have made it stronger and at a higher temperature? Maybe I should have infused it longer than 5 minutes? I think some more tea leaves would have helped. Upon finishing off my drink, I noticed there really weren’t much tea leaves in the cup. The result was a bit disappointing but I certainly wouldn’t reject this concept.

This TeaBOT product is a great idea, but I was left with some questions after the whole experience:
  1.   How often is the kiosk maintained? What happens if a certain tea is running low?
  2.   What if I wanted milk as well as the sugar? Sugar packets were available, but no milk.
  3.   Is there no concern for stolen cups and filters? These can easily be taken by someone to use for other beverages.
  4.   How fresh are the tea leaves and where are they sourced from?
  5.   How’s the cleanliness? I could've easily touched all the cups, lids, and sleeves with filthy hands and just make a whole mess on the table.
What I’m envisioning is an enclosure, much like a vending machine, where you select your tea, request the strength and water temperature, and have it add milk and sugar if desired. Out comes your beverage in a cup and already lidded and sleeved. Nothing is out in the open. All the work is done for you.

Product shot!

It’s nice to see all the new developments in the tea industry. I will definitely be keeping an eye on TeaBOT and seeing how they improve further to create something even more outstanding.



2 comments:

  1. Interesting idea.
    It's too bad the execution didn't seem to pan out.

    If this wasn't too cost prohibitive, I think a device like this could do well in a home.
    I mean yes you have things like Tassimo and Kurig, but the waste these machines produce is a concern.
    This machine has those large loose leaf containers which is good on the waste but wouldn't the freshness be lost pretty quickly there?

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    Replies
    1. The freshness of the tea leaves was also my concern.

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