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Zarafina TH1000 Tea Maker Suite with Ceramic Tea Pots, Cups, and Serving Tray
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- 16-ounce electric tea maker steeps a variety of loose or bagged tea
- Customizable tea strength from mild to strong; auto dispensing
- Attractively housed in a dark shale color with stainless-steel accents
- Includes ceramic teapot, 2 tea cups, and serving tray
- Measures 19-3/7 by 12-3/4 by 25 inches; 1-year limited warranty
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The Zarafina tea maker suite unlocks the art of tea making for a new generation. The 16-ounce-capacity tea maker comes in dark shale with stainless-steel accents--the finishing touches that embody fine design. Two ceramic tea cups, a tea pot, and a serving tray are included; 1-year limited warranty.
Top customer reviews
Some of the other products I looked at were a couple of carafe, kettle and tray systems (no timer to remind me to take out the tea bags, I constantly forget), tea presses (same problem), a tea maker that dripped water through the tea (not appropriate for tea), pod systems (can't use my own tea) and another tea brewing system. Comparing the features of the two final candidates, I selected this one because it has more options for temperature, type and strength control, a sleeker design and all of the parts are easily replaceable through Zarafina. I balked for a couple of weeks at the price, but finally took the plunge. And I am SO glad I did.
I make and drink several pots of tea a day, and this makes it so easy and convenient. If it weren't so expensive, I'd own two of them, one for home and one for work. As it is, I bought another tea pot ($14.99) and just carry the tea maker back and forth to work every day. I've shared some of the tea with my co-workers, and they agree it is some of the best tea they have ever had.
Cleaning is a snap, either just rinsing between uses or the occasional wash in mild soap and water. There is a small amount of residue that builds up on the bottom of the steeping chamber when I brew a more viscous blend, but the stainless steel bottom is easily cleaned with a delicate scrub sponge.
Zarafina has addressed the problem of water inadvertently getting into the electrical connection by proving a cleaning cap for the connector. You can get one free by calling or emailing Zarafina. Thank you Zarafina!
*UPDATE* The steeping chamber and infuser basket were getting pretty dingy and brown despite trying a wide variety of cleaning methods - until I decided to try the Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser on them. The Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser removed all the tea staining from the transparent plastic without scratching, and returned the metal and mesh sections to shining silver with just a wipe. My tea maker now looks like new again.
*UPDATE*2* Had an odd leak I couldn't figure out - somehow tea was getting into the bottom part of the tea maker and leaking out the bottom. A bit of research found a tea leaf stuck in the dispenser in the bottom of the steeping chamber. It didn't cause the steeping chamber to leak, but it did cause some of the tea to shoot out at an odd angle when dispensing. Poked it out with a toothpick, rinsed well and the tea maker is now functioning normally again.
I do use tea filer bags with most of my loose tea because no matter what kind of loose tea I use, some always seemed to escape because of the gap in the top of the infuser basket lid around the string cutter. Tea filter bags solved that problem handily.
*UPDATE*3* Magic Eraser Duo Pack works even better for cleaning the Zarafina. Also for some reason the Duo doesn't shred like the original Magic Eraser so they last longer.
*UPDATE*4* July 2009: Still love my tea maker. It's still working perfectly and still making wonderful tea. It works great with white and rooibos (red / red bush) teas.
I would recommend the product overall and am happy with it, although I'm a bit worried that it may have a major meltdown at any moment from something I may do accidentally. Really great tea, though!
*UPDATE* I have now had this tea maker for a couple of months, and have not had a single problem since the GFI-trip issue (I use the appliance 2 to 3 times a day). Carefully checking the removeable container for water on the prongs has prevented any further problems, and I believe there's a good chance that those experiencing the water-heating failure may have unknowingly had a bit of water on the electrical elements when plugging it in and caused a short - my machine probably would have had the same damage if I hadn't plugged it into a GFI-protected outlet (which was honestly just plain luck). I'm *very* happy with the quality of the tea and the convenience of using this machine.
Yes, the price seems like a lot up front, particularly compared to coffee makers, but it's worth the investment. Just think of it as a per-use price. I received mine on November 16, 2006 and have used it daily since. Even calculating for only 2 cups brewed per day, I'm already under $1.50 per cup, and I know that I've actually used it more than that. After I've owned it a year, the cost will be closer to 1 cent per cup.
My favorite tea currently is white, but I've also used it for black, green, oolong, rooibos, herbal, and mate--both loose and bagged. It makes brewing loose teas so easy that I've switched over to them almost exclusively and reserve my bagged tea for the office. I've also found that it works well for double-brewing certain varieties of herbal and rooibos teas. If you want to prep your tea for the following morning, fill the Zarafina with water to the fill line, select the correct settings for your tea, and fill the infuser basket with tea but leave it sitting on the counter. In the morning just drop the infuser basket on top of the water, cover, and press the ON button.
I really like that the ON button has to be pressed upward, which prevents an accidental start. I also discovered that the tea maker will not dispense the tea if the teapot is not under the release spout--a wonderful safety feature.
One caveat that I do have is that the teapot is not dishwasher safe and replacement would cost somewhere around $30. I actually called the company to see if I could get a second teapot to rotate with the original, and as a back-up feature, but I found the cost prohibitive. I would love it if they would consider offering an online order option for replacement/extra teapots and cups.
The entire apparatus arrives superbly packaged with great attention to detail. This is a quality product. I also appreciated the added touch of the free tea sampler offer, which arrived promptly after I submitted the info (basically registering my Zarafina) through their website. So far, it has withstood heavy usage, and I look foward to using it for years to come.
Update 10/24/07: A few months ago my tea brewing chamber developed some very minor cracks around the heating plate. Concerned that this might eventually compromise the integrity and cause leaks, I contacted Zarafina. They sent me a free replacement promptly. I particularly appreciated that they didn't require me to return the defective part first, so that I did not have to be without my tea maker. I still enjoy my Zarafina Tea Maker Suite immensely; it gets more use than any other appliance in my kitchen.
Update 07/23/08: A few weeks ago I began to experience a leak of some sort that caused a puddle to form underneath the tea maker. When I lift the tea maker the water drips from the bottom of the unit. After some trouble-shooting that didn't yield a solution, I happened to fill the steeping chamber about 20 minutes before I started the brewing cycle, instead of almost immediately before as I usually do. The puddle was even bigger. I contacted Zarafina about the problem and they were unable to provide an answer via email but asked me to call. I then spoke with a very nice representative named Justin who asked me not to use my suite for safety reasons but immediately offered to ship me a new unit--without requiring me to go through the trouble of returning the current one! Now that's customer service! The new unit will not have a warranty, because my current model is already out of warranty (it's being replaced because of the safety issue), but they are still standing behind their product. I'm impressed!
Update 11/07/11: I am still using my tea maker daily. Replacement parts are available, for those who need them. I have had one replacemet of the steeping chamber. Not bad for several years of use! Be very careful not to fill the brewing chamber above the top fill line. I discovered that leaking happens when it's even slightly above that. Thanks to a comment, I now keep the water level slightly below that line and have had no problems.