About this project
Tea Maker Nº1 is a minimalist brewer designed to give maximum control of your tea’s flavor.
This style of preparation is inspired by the gaiwan—a traditional Chinese loose leaf tea brewing vessel that is designed to steep in small doses, each successive infusion highlighting different characteristics of the tea.
The double walled glass design keeps the steep temperature stable and the outside cool to the touch. When it comes time to pour, no strainer is needed: one finger simply pulls back the lid and—with a flick of the wrist—the tea is poured out of the small opening into the ceramic tea bowl.
Ultimately, Manual Tea Maker Nº1 is designed to celebrate beautiful teas and create a "slow" experience that can be appreciated throughout your day.
The roots of Tea Maker Nº1 start with our partners at Spirit—an upstart Chicago company sourcing super-premium tea and supplying a growing list of our city's best cafes and restaurants. Spirit took Manual on a journey into the true essence of tea—teas that stripped back all of our preconceived notions.
Start by completely forgetting tea bags—those ubiquitous little sacks filled with the dust of low quality tea. Then look past the scented teas—most typically made with synthetic oils of bergamot, jasmine or orange blossom. And for now, set aside the herbal tisanes—blends like rooibos, mint, and chamomile—that sometimes don't even contain tea at all.
When you strip it back, you're left with pure tea.
Just the leaf of a small shrub that’s been grown and harvested for thousands of years. White, green, oolong, black—these pure forms of tea all comes from the same plant: camellia sinensis. What varies is the the way they are dried—or oxidized—after they are picked. A combination of basic techniques like wilting, steaming, baking, toasting, shaping, drying and curing are used to achieve the final style.
When you strip it back to just the leaf, you’re tasting tea like you might taste vegetables—as a seasonal offering. A plant growing on a specific mountainside in a specific region processed by the tea master's specifications. When you experience tea this way, it’s like tasting the part of the earth it came from.
Just like in the wine world—it’s about terroir.
Our friends at Spirit select truly special teas that are complex, layered and subtle—tasting them is truly a culinary experience. A delicate white tea that offers notes of hay and sweetgrass. A vegetal green tea with notes of dill, asparagus, and sea air. A savory oolong with notes of kettle corn, dandelion root and hops. A spicy black tea projecting buckwheat, toasted grains and sherry. One plant offering an infinite depth of flavor—the simplicity is truly striking.
Manual isn't here to simply sell a designed object—we want you to fully experience what this world of pure tea has to offer, through the lens of our friends at Spirit. In celebration of this collaboration, every backer will receive a selection of Spirit teas along with their Tea Maker Nº1.
The Tea Maker Nº1 was inspired by the gaiwan—a traditional tea steeping vessel invented during the Ming dynasty for the “gongfu” tea ceremony, which translates to “making tea with skill”. The gaiwan's simplicity is striking—it’s simply a lidded bowl.
It’s easy to learn but requires practice to master. At Manual, we like that it makes the act of preparing tea into a small ritual, the labor becoming part of the enjoyment.
Inspired by this ancient steeper, we wanted to create a contemporary version for the modern tea drinker.
Manual worked closely with Spirit to develop a modern version of the gaiwan: one that's less likely to burn the beginner's fingers, has a larger volume for Western-style tea consumption, has a more modern aesthetic, and can bring new users to the beauty of gaiwan preparation.
Tea Maker Nº1 is made of lab-grade borosilicate glass, which allows the loose leaf teas to infuse on display. With each infusion you watch the leaves slowly open and reveal themselves while the liquor darkens in color. The double-walled construction insulates the vessel, keeping the water temperature stable throughout the steep—while the outside is cool to the touch, so the brewer can simply be picked up like a glass.
Brewing with a gaiwan involves combining tea and water and waiting a short time, anywhere from 60 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the tea. The quantity of tea used also depends the variety, but often falls within 3-6g: enough room to open fully yet fill the gaiwan at the end. The temperature of the water used also changes based on the tea: lighter teas are usually steeped well below boiling (175ºF) while a black tea might be just off the boil (205ºF). All of these specifications are to taste, of course.
When it comes time to pour, one finger pulls back the porcelain lid, and with a flick of the wrist, the tea is poured out in one motion into the porcelain cup. The cup has wide proportions, so each sip pairs scent and taste.
All high quality loose leaf teas can be re-steeped multiple times, each immersion revealing a different character. Some teas, like oolongs can be re-steeped 8 times, at a minute a steep. In a Western-style preparation, these steeps may be "stacked" in a carafe to share with others or simply keep for yourself.
After you are finished, Tea Maker Nº1 is easily cleaned (hand wash the glass, dishwasher is ok for the lid and bowl) and nested away for storage.
In the end, we want Tea Maker Nº1 to be a humble tool that blends beauty and function seamlessly, and becomes a part of your everyday ritual.
At Manual, we feel like we all need more moments of focus and reflection in our busy days. When you choose to slow down to prepare a cup of tea manually, you step away from the myriad of distractions that surround you to solely focus on "making tea with skill."
Manual is a design studio that creates products for "slow food." The company was founded by designer and illustrator Craighton Berman, the first designer to launch a product on Kickstarter. Two years ago we started the brand with Coffeemaker N°1—a project which raised $100k right here on Kickstarter. Thanks to the support of those original 1101 Kickstarter backers as well as ongoing retail sales, we are excited to be launching Coffeemaker N°2 internationally this Fall.
We truly love Kickstarter because it's a launch platform for creative and esoteric projects (and sometimes just weird) that need to exist in the world. We're thrilled to share our ideas with the community and excited to take you along the journey to production.
Tea Maker Nº1 is currently in development—successful funding of this project will start the manufacturing process. However the products you see here are pre-production samples from the factories with whom we will be manufacturing. (In fact we worked with the same Chinese borosilicate glass manufacturer for our Coffeemaker Nº1, launched on Kickstarter in 2014)
Our production milestones by month:
July - Kickstarter Campaign
August - Production begins
September - Preparation for shipping from China
October - Production run shipped via sea freight
November - Product received in Chicago warehouse
December - Product shipped to backers
These dates are optimistic: when producing physical goods it's reasonable to expect that there could be some delays. We hope to ship in time for the holidays, but cannot guarantee this. We promise to be open and honest in our communications in timing, and will keep you in the loop. Let's do this.
To Taylor & Jordan at Spirit for your education, collaboration and passion.
To past Kickstarter backers for launching Manual and supporting our projects across 5 Kickstarters.
To Potluck Creative for the photos and video concept and production.
To my family for loving me through my obsessions.
To you for reading this far in the age of short attention spans.
PRESS KIT & ARTICLES
- manual.is/tea - Manual page for Tea Maker Nº1
- Photos - Open use for press/social media. Email info at manual.is for high res or special requests
- Article: "Tea is the new coffee"
- Article: "Sketching out the styles"
- Article: "Sourcing: To Share a Good Thing"
- Live streaming video: "In the Studio with Tea Maker Nº1" - August 17, 2016
Risks and challenges
Previously, we have successfully funded and fulfilled 4 Kickstarter projects. We work with a manufacturing agent, who has become our close collaborator through previous projects. Our agent manages our daily affairs overseas—with factories they have worked with extensively.
However when manufacturing any physical good there are sure to be unforeseen challenges. We promise to be open and honest in our communications in timing and design changes as we navigate these challenges.
Remember, Kickstarter is not a store—you are pledging support to an independent design company that is starting down the path of producing a product. Part of your "reward" is getting an inside view at the process as well as our sincere appreciation for the support!
We only produce products we feel deeply passionate about and are too stubborn to see things fail. You can put your trust in Manual that we will deliver the goods. ✌Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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