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Tea, the app

May 5, 2011 |  8:00 am

Tea1 My frequent houseguest Paul has his own morning ritual. No coffee for him. He passes up the pleasures of stovetop espresso for tea. Tea! And it’s not the Earl Grey or English breakfast stashed in my tea drawer for afternoons when I’m feeling sleepy. He drinks Japanese green tea exclusively, usually ordered directly from Japan.

He even brings his own teapots -- one pot in which to brew the tea, another in which to serve it. I leave him to it. There’s the kettle. There’s the filtered water. Since he knows I enjoy green tea, just not first thing in the morning, he’ll often leave me some of his current favorites as a present. Each comes with a handwritten note telling me how long -- down to the second -- to steep the leaves and at what precise temperature.

So I haul out the thermometer, I measure the water temperature, and adjust with cold or hot water. I brew the tea, watching the second hand on the clock. I know it makes a difference, but it’s such a bother. I don’t have the patience. I lose the notes. I misplace the thermometer.

But I’ve just discovered a tea app for the iPhone that might help me out. Tea expert Photo Thomas Smith was the consultant for Tea, the app, which comes pre-loaded with brewing suggestions for over 200 teas and 12 tea types. The app suggests brewing times, water temperature and how much you’ll need of each tea to brew a cup. It also calculates how many cups you’ll get from each tea purchase and tracks your tea inventory. There’s room for tea tasting or brewing notes. You can also easily adjust the amount of tea leaves, brewing time or temperature to suit your taste.

Watch the video demo at teaapp.com.  

I’m not sure I’m ready to add tea geek to my list of obsessions. Also, I can’t help asking myself if Helen Gustafson, the late great tea fanatic who put together Chez Panisse’s tea program once upon a time, would approve of a tea app. Probably not. But for tea geeks in the making, it’s a help.

Tea from Samuel Iglesias is available in the App Store on iTunes, $2.99.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Screen shot of tea app