Friday, October 26, 2007

Travette and Tea.

Hey all,

I hope you're all enjoying having more than one or two posts a month. Considering the amount of product reviews that I have in the works, this should last easily until the end of November! Remember - product reviews and reader suggestions are what most posts are made of!

Recently, Steve of Timolino sent me their Travette Tea Pot to see what I thought. The first thing that hit me when I removed it from it's shipping box was the product packaging! The box itself is definately pleasing, and looks very nice all by itself. The box, however, is certainly not the best feature of the Timolino.

When I took it out of the box, I was actually surprised at just how nice it looked on my table. It definately has appeal. But often I receive a pretty product that does nothing besides look pretty - not what you want in a Tea product! The Timolino, however, is as functional as it is aesthetic.
If you look at this picture of it, you can see the elegance that I am referring to. The teapot consists of several components. First is the base with the black handle. The base of the Travette is very durable, and has some rubber on the bottom for traction. Inside, it contains polished stainless steel with what appears to be a safety coating (which is why it is a slightly different color than the brushed steel on the outside) - a good move!

The second component is the filter-lid, which contains two parts: The filter cup and the lid. The lid sits on the pot very well, with no twisting required. A gentle push sets it firmly on the base and a gentle pull removes it. The effort required to take the lid on and off is also very important to the overall quality of this product!

With non-twisting lids, you often have a lid that either takes too much effort to remove, which can result in a mess if you're dealing with liquids (especially hot tea!), or a lid that doesn't affix firmly enough, making it somewhat difficult to handle the product without removing the lid. The Travette represents a fantastic balance between the two. It's seems to require just the right amount of pressure to install and remove the lid. I couldn't imagine it working any better.

The filter mesh is also impressive. It's quite large (probably the largest I've seen on a portable product like this), and able to handle any herb or tea you might place in it, while allowing plenty of room for the leaf to expand. The filter mesh is easily removed from the lid for filling, and slides back into the lid just as easily, with no clicking or pushing required. A great feature of the lid is the cover that closes over the filter mesh. You can lift the cover to watch your beverage brew, or you can tightly close the cover to avoid any spillage. One particularly good side effect of this is that you can add to the filter mesh while the beverage is brewing! I found this to be especially useful.

The third component is an optional one. When ordering the tea pot, you can add $2 to have it included. That third component is a drinking lid. This has definite implications regarding convenience - you can brew and drink your tea from the same pot easily, however if all you use the pot for is basic brewing, and prefer to pour your tea into smaller teacups, then you'd not have need for this. I feel that making it optional was a very appropriate move.

Now, considering some of the very positive advantages of this teapot (including it's ease-of-use, aesthetics, etc), I must consider disadvantages. One thing I might note here is that the filter mesh is made of nylon rather than the higher quality stainless steel that many other pots use. The advantages of stainless steel over nylon are durability, and less residue (nylon sometimes can leech chemicals). Nylon is, however, slightly cheaper, and some might find that it is easier to clean.

The Travette is one of the best designed products I have reviewed to date. It is simply done very, very well. It's convenient, it's easy to use, it's aesthetically pleasing, and it does everything it claims to do - and does so quite well.

I'd recommend this product for anyone looking for a small and portable one to two person teapot.

Thanks again to Steve from Timolino for making this product review possible!

Over and out,
Relznuk Zero Relznuk

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sparkling Beverages - Oh, the (Insani) Tea!

Greetings Readers!

First and foremost, I’d like to announce the design change on the blog! Yay! It’s more aesthetically pleasing now, and a lot more useful to me. If you’ll take notice of the new features on the right side, I’ve added a $5 gift certificate generator from Adagio Teas. With the help of Adagio, this is my way to show a portion of my appreciation to me readers. You’ll also notice that there is a contact box. If you have an idea or suggestion for me, or if you’d like a product reviewed (the product will need to be provided), feel free to drop me a line!

With that being said, I’ll now jump right into today’s post:

A few years ago I got the idea to design a new soda. I experimented with lots of different flavor options, which I added with sugar to tap water to stem the flavor. I spent a significant deal of time getting people’s opinions on flavors and trying new combos. One day, I attempted to make this soda at home. The idea ultimately flopped – I attempted to add granulated sugar to a bottle of club soda. What a mess! So I didn’t pursue the idea further.

Recently, however, I received, graciously provided by the manufacturer, a new device called the Edition 1 from Soda-Club USA – A home carbonator! You can imagine the memories this device brought back. But at least I wouldn’t have to run to the store for club soda! The device is also very aesthetically pleasing and looks good in my kitchen.

Since receiving this device, I’ve been using it quite a bit. Besides making very passable sodas without gushing all over the place (so far I have tried the Root Beer, the Cola, the Orange Mango, and several of the diet flavors, all of which are very good), it’s also good for several other things, including making seltzer to add to other beverages, or even making carbonated teas (fruit flavors work best.)I’ve even developed a new appreciation for seltzer.

One of the very nice things about this device is that you can control the carbonation level. You can make things very, very fizzy (even far more fizzy than you can get in the store), or just add light carbonation to make it sparkle.

I was a bit dubious about making carbonated teas, (bad memories of trying Nestle Enviga (The horror! The fear! The false health claims!) came to mind) but I gave it a try. I tried one of the nice fruity Revolution Tea flavors, and it actually came out very well. Just like a lightly flavored sparkling herbal tea. I don’t recommend sparking your tea too often, as it can take away from the health benefits, but it is quite nice every once in a while.

If you decide to make sparking teas or tea seltzers at home, I would recommend a very light carbonation, as having too much takes away from the tea flavor)

The carbonator is also environmentally friendly. It uses no electricity, as it is powered by a proprietary CO2 tank under license from Soda-Club. It also comes with reusable carbonating containers so you aren’t constantly throwing away club soda bottles.

Now that I’ve covered the good points of this product, I need to provide a bit of critique. While this product is nice, and very convenient, it is slightly expensive. You’d have to drink quite a bit of seltzer or soda to make this profitable. If your family consumes a significant amount, however, it actually ends up being a good deal and saving you money. You can read about this at this page on their website for seltzer, and at this page on the website for soda

Also, the actual carbonating tank is proprietary, and can only be refilled by Soda-Club. If you trade a couple of new tanks for a couple of fresh tanks, it’ll run you about $40, which isn’t that bad, but isn’t exactly a value either. It’s also technically the property of Soda-Club. You don’t actually own it, and have to return it every three years (or when you need a refill.) This, however, is relatively minor, and makes sense to me. It’s a good money-generator for them, and only a minor insignificance to the consumer.

So, in short, this is a great device. And carbonated herbal teas are somewhat more delicious than I figured them for. If you use a lot of carbonated soda, I’d highly recommend this machine.

The link to their website, in full, is:

Over and out,
Relznuk Zero Relznuk

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Losing Your Mind? Drink Tea!

Greetings readers!

I was chatting with Jinx recently, and she passed some information along to me that I thought you might enjoy. I has to do with a couple of alleged (although I tend to find it credible upon considering the research) benefits of green tea, and one which seems pretty interesting.

According to The Canadian Press (, new scientific research has demonstrated it to be the case that green tea can have a rejuvenating effect on injured brain cells and lower an individual's risk of developing dementia and other diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The research was presented recently at Fourth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health in Washington, D.C.

According to Carol Greenwood, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, it's likely the drinking green tea daily has direct impact on on brain health by assisting in cell function and cell repair.

Most of these effects are linked to the main antioxidant in green tea called EGCG.

So there you have it - one more reason to enjoy green tea daily. As an aside, I'd mention that white teas all have the same benefit, if not greater benefits on this as green teas, although it might not be the case that black teas are as effective.

This seems really interesting, but I'm sure that I have not addressed it adequately, as I am not well-endowed with medical knowledge, so you should really have a look at the original article, found here.

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for several new product reviews, as well as some interesting and unique ideas that might stem from those products.

Until then,
Relnuk Zero Relznuk

P.S.: Thanks to Jinx for the material!

Friday, October 5, 2007

New Loose Teas From Revolution.

Greetings Readers.

Recently, I was sent some samples of some new loose teas to be released from Joe of Revolution Tea. As most of you know, loose tea is by far my preference, followed by large pyramid-shaped teabags (which mostly are filled with full leaf tea anyway). Small, scrunchy paper teabags, however, are never my friend, for a number of reasons.

It therefore delighted me to hear of this company, who previously only offered teabags (although they were the high-quality sort that gives plenty of room), venturing into the world of loose teas. Although these are not for sale to the public yet, they will be something to watch for.

The blends come in a number of varieties. They have herbal blends as well as blends made from white and black teas. One variety that I particularly like is Swiss Herbal. It's a delicious fruity blend with a great color in the cup, and a nice mellow, subtle flavor. I served some iced to some guests I had over recently, and they seemed to really enjoy it. They're not typical tea drinkers, but they did admit to quite liking this herbal blend.

Another especially impressive variety is their White Himalayan blend. It seems to have just the right blend of accompanying herbs to really bring out the delicate floral notes of the fine silver-needle white tea. And it is indeed some of the finer quality white tea I have consumed.

The scent of all of these teas is absolutely amazing. When I first opened up the packing envelope, I nearly drove myself mad. So many enticing aromas. They must have but great effort into creating such well-blended aromas for each of their teas. No one scent in any of the blends is particularly overpowering. They all seem to blend quite nicely.

Now, while these teas do definitely demonstrate a step forward, in order to provide a fair critique I must note some areas which need improvement.

One such area is in the packaging. The teas come packaged in nice zip-seal bags. The zip-seal on top is quite secure, however the pressure seal along the bottom of the bags is not. The seal is not secure enough, and when the bags arrived, the bottoms of two out of five of them had opened up. Upon my handling them, the bottom of a third one opened up. While this is a minor flaw, it is certainly something that needs to be resolved, if it has not been resolved already.

Another point I might make is that although the bags do provide the name of the tea, they do not provide an explanation of the herbs that went into that particular tea. Unless you are familiar with a wide variety of herbs, in both appearance and taste, you might never know what is in a given blend.

Now, I realize that the samples I was sent were something of a "prototype," but the purpose of prototypes and evaluatory samples is indeed to help find and correct flaws before the product is released to the public.

All in all, I would rate the actual quality of the tea itself as an 8 out of ten. It is very good tea, and meets some serious quality standards. It is not the best tea I have had however. That mark would go to some imported Darjeeling Rungmook Estate tea that I received from India.

The tea provided by this company, Revolution, is of high enough quality that the average tea purchaser on a reasonable budget would be hard-pressed to find much better.

The packaging for this tea, in it's current state, I would give a 6 out of ten. Some serious improvement could take place there. Even so, the packaging they used is a good idea, and if it can be made to work correctly (and give more information) then it will perform it's task with excellence.

I would recommend these teas when they are released on the market, rumored for sometime next year, to the general tea-drinking crowd. Most people should be extremely pleased with the quality and flavor of these blends. I'll post an update when the final product is released.

I hope you'll all try these when they are released, and form your own opinions. I'd love to hear about it if you do!

Thanks again for the samples, Joe!

Over and out,
Relznuk Zero Relznuk

Note: I have received a response from Revolution to the effect that the weak packaging problem has been resolved and will certainly not represent the final product.