When I make iced tea, I usually just put teabags in a quart jar full of water and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Yes, I'm a tea heathen.
So, when Takeya said their 2-quart Flash Chill Tea Maker ($24.99) used a method that was new and better, I figured I'd give it a try. It's simple, really. Loose tea goes into the removable center piece, a tea infuser with a fine mesh filter that prevents bits and pieces from seeping through. Then you pour freshly boiled water into the pitcher and let it steep. When steeping is done, you remove the infuser that holds the tea, and dump ice into the pitcher and shake the heck out of it. The documentation says that this shaking of hot and cold results in improved tea flavor. Maybe a tea fanatic could tell the difference, but I didn't notice anything astonishing. On the other hand, I had cold tea right away.
I'm sure I could do the same thing in another half-gallon pitcher, as long as it could withstand the shaking and possible thermal shock and had a tight cap. But, tea heathen that I am, I don't actually own a suitable pitcher. Hard to believe, right?
Even if the ice-and-hot-water-shaking isn't revolutionary, this is a nice pitcher for making larger quantities of iced tea. I might actually skip the ice and the shaking and use this instead of the quart jar to cold brew since it gives me larger capacity, a more civilized presentation, and easier pouring. It's also a nice basic pitcher for whatever you use pitchers for.
This pitcher can come with a few accessories, if you go with a kit rather than just the pitcher, and others are sold separately. One that I'm interested in is a fruit infuser, basically, a plastic basket that would be used in place of the tea holder that you'd use to infuse fruits into the liquid. While it might be nice for adding fruit flavors to tea or lemonade, I'm thinking it might be handy for some of the infused liqueurs I make.
Because that's how I roll.
About the author: Resident yeast whisperer and bread baking columnist Donna Currie also has a serious gadget habit. When her father-in-law heard about this column, he upgraded the nickname for her kitchen from "gadget world" to "gadget heaven." You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.