In Gear: Watch Out Teapot, Behold Adagio Tea's TriniTEA Electric Maker

20080818-trinitea.jpgSure, I live in coffee country, but as soon as I saw Adagio Teas TriniTEA—something of a cross between a coffee machine and Big Mac—I had to try it.

For $100, the electronic tea kettle can make up to four cups with the ability to brew at two temperatures (212°F for black and herbal tea, 185°F for everything else) and steep between two to eight minutes.

How Does It Work?

Just put loose tea leaves in the steeping chamber and add water to the first of three chambers. After turning on the machine, water will reach the proper temperature, then it beeps and dispenses water into the steeping chamber.

When it's done steeping, the machine beeps again and allows the tea to proceed into the carafe. Three more beeps lets you know it's teatime. This is not quite as relaxing as the honeyed voice of a British matron calling you for tea, but I'll take it. Since the carafe sits on a heating plate, your tea stays hot for hours. It doesn't have a built-in timer, but presumably the machine should work fine with an outlet timer.

Cons: I got a TriniTEA demo unit in hopes of making Japanese green tea, but that isn't the machine's strength. These delicate teas need a lower water temperature and steeping time than the TriniTEA offers. Adagio CEO Michael Cramer told me that he made the machine as adjustable as possible for $100.

Pros: The TriniTEA did a fine job with every other accessible kind of tea (oolong, black, and Chinese green). It was also surprisingly easy to clean. I just rinsed the removable parts in the sink and figured they'd be sterilized by future tea-brewing.

Is the TriniTEA Worth It?

Do you want to devote precious counter space and $100 to a tea kettle? The TriniTEA probably makes the most sense in a small or home office with a couple people craving the same kind of tea throughout the day, like a loose-leaf black tea. Be warned though, it's easy to sit in front of the machine and watch it like a TV, waiting for the beep and trickle of fresh-brewed tea.

That, and reading the name "TriniTEA" over and over, thinking about the fine line between stupid and clever.