I, like many a South African, have two things in common with most people in the British Commonwealth: a love for beating the English at their own sports (has anyone been following the cricket recently?!) and a strong affinity for tea.
Ever since I can remember making tea for myself, I recall feeling distaste for used tea bags
They look horrible, they’re a nuisance to get rid of and they’re the stuff of nightmares at social events when you don’t quite know what to do with them: do you leave a conversation and pray that you find a bin or do you try to ignore the still-steeping tea bag in your cup and hope that you can stomach the increasing Rooibos bitterness of what is rapidly becoming the worst cup of tea ever made in the Southern Hemisphere?
I had to wait until college in the US before perfecting the art of tea bag-free brewing. After buying some yerba mate from a store in Harvard Square I had to find the best way of brewing it. I experimented for months before I finally found a solution that was beautiful and fun to use: the Teavana Tea Maker. Here is a picture of it brewing tea
And here it is in action:
When placed on a flat surface no tea can flow out of its bottom but when placed over most tea cups that aren’t wide enough for it to stand neatly on its plastic legs, tea flows out of its bottom. It works because when it’s standing on its legs there is a plug that prevents the tea from flowing out of it. When placed on a mug, the plug is pushed upwards and tea comes flowing out a hole in the bottom of the strainer through a filter.
I enjoy looking at different kinds of tea brewing inside of the tea maker and there is something immensely satisfying to seeing it drain completely. It’s a great way to start my day because it’s one of the few things that I own that is both beautiful and practical. It fits nicely into Don Norman’s hypothesis that objects that are aesthetically pleasing seem to work better. I am sure that I would have not thought of the tea maker the same way if it had not been see-through or if it had blocked out the sound of a mug filling up with water. It feels effective and nifty because it’s visual and auditory. And I love using it.