Published on November 19th, 2008 | by Greg0
Two More Gifts for the Kitchen: Coffee and Tea, Part Deux
A few days ago, we checked out a neat tea maker and a coffee grinder. This we we change things up a bit- and look at a single-cup pod coffee maker that can also use ground coffee, as well as an interesting gift set that allows you to cook… with tea.
We around the office make no secret of our love for Kerurig's K-cups- they sent us their original single-cup coffee machine a couple of years ago to our rave review. Since then, they've released several new models, and have had many different coffee, tea, and even hot chocolate makers come on board. Brands like Caribou, Newman's Own Organics, and even Emeril all have K-cups available for the Keurig ecosystem, and there are plenty of decaf, organic, fair trade, and flavored options.
As before, the idea behind single-cup coffee makers is to provide excellent, consistent coffee, conveniently. There is no mess, no fuss, and pretty much nothing to clean (other than a very occasional descaling necessary for anything that you heat water in). You don't waste coffee, you don't heat extra water, and you don't need to worry about brewing or steeping times or water temperature. It's also easy to switch between flavors, allowing one person to get their decaf hazelnut and another to get a cup of dark Kona blend easily. Their newer B70 Platinum edition offers some advantages over the older models- adjustable temperature controls, quieter operation, a larger water reservoir, and more strength/cup-size options. Of course, it is about twice the cost of the original, older model, but does have really nifty blue LEDs that add a nice futuristic touch to coffee-making.
We recommend the Keurig brewers without hesitation over other pod systems, having tested most of them. Those who want espresso, or espresso-based drinks, should probably look elsewhere, but those who just need a cup 'o' morning joe should definitely consider K-cups.
As an equally interesting gift, consider giving the gift of extra virgin organic… tea oil. Republic of Tea offers a Stir Fry Collection set, perfect for the person in your family with an interest in Asian cooking. The set includes not just a 30 ounce jar of tea oil, but tongs and a spoon from Bambu (made of, guess what, bamboo), as well as a cute tin of tea spice, two tea towels, and a decent carbon steel wok.
We were curious about the tea oil especially, which contains less saturated fat than olive oil, and is supposedly easy to use as it doesn't smoke or burn until very high heat (near 500 degrees F). In fact, it was a pretty simple substitute for olive oil, with a sweeter and lighter flavor. As you might expect, it worked best for stir-fry, but also made for a decent dressing. We actually ended up liking the tea spice better; as a rub for meat, it worked wonders. The included tools were also pretty handy and durable, though the tea towels weren't really anything special. Which leaves only the wok- we don't suggest buying the set for the wok, but it's handy and light and simple. You might not be able to immediately stir fry like a pro, but you'll at least have the necessities handled, and you'll definitely get some attention when you reveal your secret ingredient- tea oil.