I've spent most of my life in tiny kitchens, whether that was working as a chef working in small restaurants, renting tiny apartments on a chef's salary, or living in a 26-foot RV. It's been so long since I was in anything but a tiny kitchen, that when I enter a large kitchen, I feel disoriented and confused. How do you cook when you have to walk away from the stove just to get something out of the refrigerator?
One consequence of tiny kitchen living is that you need tools that can handle multiple jobs. There's no room for single-use gadgets. My chef knife is everything from a knife to a peeler to a muddler to a bottle opener.
As much as I love a good cup of tea, there's no way I'm going to have a separate tea brewer, thermos, and mug. I don't even have a kettle (amazingly, a sauce pot seems to boil water quite well), let alone a dedicated tea brewer. This is where the Tea Spot's Mountain Tea tumbler comes in.
Photograph: The Tea Spot
The Tea Spot Mountain Tea Tumbler$31 at The Tea Spot
The Mountain Tea tumbler is an insulated 16-ounce thermos with a brewer basket that fits down into the top of it. Put your loose-leaf tea in the basket, secure the lid, drop it in the thermos, and pour water over the top. Put the lid on, let it steep for your preferred amount of time, pull the basket out, and you're good to go.
If you're drinking bagged tea, you can skip the brewing basket and just drop your tea bag in (no tea snobbery here, I drink both). According to Tea Spot, you can also throw in "fruits or herbs for a spa water experience." I have not tried this, but I have used it as a thermos for coffee and it works great (again, just skip the brewing basket).
You can drink directly out of the Mountain Tea Tumbler and there's a handle you can use to clip it to your bag. I've thrown this thing around and had it tip over countless times in the car and it has never leaked. It fits standard cup holders in your car, but I haven't tested this. My cup holders are perpetually full of rocks, tiny children's figurines, and other bric-a-brac, so I can't take advantage of this feature.
Tea Spot claims the double-walled design will keep your tea hot for six hours. That feels about right, though to be totally honest I don't think I've ever had a 16-ounce cup of tea last me more than an hour.
The only thing you can't do with the Mountain Tea tumbler is put it in the microwave, but with six hours of hot tea, you probably wouldn't need to anyway. If you want a slightly larger brewer, there's also the Everest Tea Tumbler ($33), which doesn't have the sipping lid but is larger at 22 ounces.
It's one of those rare devices that does many things well. Even if your kitchen is so large it has an island, it's still the best way to brew.
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