'Espresso machine'-style tea maker could spell end for teabags

Rob Waugh

A new rotating brewing machine might spell the end for tea bags, with 'espresso style' tea that is claimed to taste better, and which is ready in just two minutes.

The new invention - from the company that created round teabags - works in a similar way to modern espresso machines, with capsules of tea being slotted into a type of kettle.

The machine spins the pods at high speed, bubbling hot water through the tea leaves, collecting flavour before it drops into the pot below.

The Cambridge Consultants scientists say the machine allows users to have more control over the strength and flavour of their tea.

The machine could be on sale within two years.

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The Tê machine promises to brew a cuppa in just two minutes - half the time of a traditional teapot.

Its inventors say the capsule could also be used in individual mugs.

If the technology catches on it could render the tea bag obsolete after 100 years as a staple of hot beverages around the world.

Edward Brunner, group leader of the industrial and scientific group at Cambridge Consultants, said tea drinkers have previously been "forgotten about".

He said: "Whilst coffee systems have seen a significant amount of innovation over the last decade nothing has changed in tea brewing, leaving the tea drinker almost forgotten about.

"We saw a real opportunity to use our experience in the beverage industry to level the playing field and make a step change in this category.

"Thanks to our expertise in fluidic systems and functional packaging, and our dedicated dispense lab facilities, we have been able to finely tune the process needed to offer the most sophisticated brewing platform to bring customised, high-quality tea dispensing into the home.

"Contrary to other tea machines on the market, this is based on a genuine tea-brewing process - rather than simply a 'single-pass flow' with fresh water.

"The technology process has been developed with black teas but has the potential to be used across a range of herbal and fruit teas, and other hot drinks."

The Tê machine is expected to be at the lower end of the price range for similar coffee devices.

When it goes to market within the next two years the prices of the capsule will depend on the type of tea leaves selected, the manufacturer said.

The tea bag is first believed to have come into use in the US in 1908 when Thomas Sullivan, a New York tea merchant, sent samples of tea to customers in small silk bags.

Gauze bags, as we know them today, were first put into commercial production in the 1920s as they grew in popularity in America.

The bags were largely rejected by tradition tea drinkers in Britain until the 1950s when Tetley drove their introduction on this side of the Atlantic.

According to the United Kingdom Tea Council, 60.2 billion cups of tea are drunk in Britain every year.