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This is not a travel mug or a thermos. It’s the Qterra NOVO Multi-Steep Travel Tea Brewer with CoolStraw technology. You can fill the NOVO with hot water and tea leaves and toss it in your handbag, briefcase or backpack before dashing out the door. Then later, while on the subway, walking in the park, or driving a car, you can brew and drink fresh tea at the perfect temperature with just the push of a button, spillfree. And the NOVO lets you re-steep the tea leaves multiple times for the rich, evolving taste experience only multiple steeping can provide.
Ancient Traditions Updated
The NOVO’s unique design was inspired by the ancient South American mate and Chinese gongfu tea traditions, combined with cutting-edge technology for today’s active lifestyles. I’m Pierre Baston, the NOVO’s inventor, and I’ve traveled to Argentina many times over the past 10 years to pursue my love of tango and spend time with the family of my girlfriend, who is a native Argentinian. During those adventures, I was impressed by the Argentine love for mate, an herbal drink similar to tea.
Over 90% of Argentinian households drink mate, and consume more of it than any other drink including water. But I noticed that enjoying the hot beverage away from home meant toting multiple utensils and could often involve spills, and I figured there had to be an easier way. So I invented one.
My designs for travel brewers have now been patented in Argentina, the United States and Japan. And what works for mate drinkers in Argentina works equally well for tea enthusiasts on-the-go all over the world.
How does the NOVO work?
Mate drinking was invented by the Guarani Indians of South America more than 5 centuries ago. The Guarani would mix hot water and mate leaves in a cup, and sip out the resulting beverage through a bamboo tube fashioned into a straw. They re-steeped the mate leaves multiple times to extract maximum flavor. The straw filtered out floating leaves and helped cool the beverage.
The Qterra NOVO combines mate’s kettle, cup and drinking straw into one portable, spillproof unit. It also features a patent-pending CoolStraw system to cool the beverage before it reaches the mouthpiece.
- Brews loose-leaf tea on-the-go, spillfree
- Steeps tea leaves multiple times for richest flavor and maximum antioxidant extraction
- Cools tea quickly to perfect drinking temperature (140°F) with patent-pending CoolStraw technology
- Shortens wait time before your first sip
- Eco-friendly and economical compared with disposable cups
- 100% BPA-free
Using the NOVO is simple:
1. Disconnect the brewing cup from the main body and add tea leaves. Re-connect the cup. It will lock securely into place.
2. Detach the top and fill the water tank with hot water. Then replace the cap for a leakproof seal. NOVO’s insulation will keep the water hot for hours.
3. When ready to brew, unfold the straw mouthpiece and push the valve button. That will release 1½ ounces of hot water into the brewing cup, where the tea leaves are ready for steeping.
4. After your desired steep time has elapsed, sip the tea beverage through the filtered straw (which keeps leaves in the cup). CoolStraw technology automatically cools the dose of tea to 140°F in less than 5 seconds.
5. Repeat the process, re-steeping the tea up to 5 more times (total water capacity is 9 oz.) to extract the full measure of rich flavors and antioxidants locked inside each leaf.
Qterra World online magazine
Qterra will support your steeped adventures with our Qterra World online magazine, sharing tips on how to get the most out of your NOVO brewer. The NOVO is a flexible tea-making tool that gives you the power to adapt ways of preparing your favorite teas your way. Adjust volume of tea leaves, water temperature, and steeping times to suit your taste. Our expert tea consultants will give helpful suggestions for every tea variety, but feel free to experiment. We’ll post the discoveries of Qterra users to build a database of NOVO steeping experiences accessible to the entire Qterra community, as well as your photos and stories about the NOVO in your lives. Qterra World will feature informative articles on all aspects of tea culture, including interesting tea practices from around the globe.
Why multiple steeping?
Interestingly, the practice of steeping tea leaves multiple times supported by NOVO was inspired not only by South American mate, but also by the Chinese gongfu tea brewing style. Like mate, gongfu also involves briefly steeping large quantities of tea leaves multiple times in small doses of 1 to 2 ounces of water. Both traditions value the benefits of rich flavor, healthfulness, and short waiting time to first sip. The less time you spend waiting for your tea to brew and cool, the more time you have to enjoy drinking it.
Fresh, rich, evolving tea flavor
The world’s finest, richest and most interesting teas are whole-leaf teas. To fully appreciate the complexity of premium teas, enthusiasts steep leaves multiple times to extract a range of flavors and sensory experiences. The first steeping is likely to be richer than anything you’ve ever experienced from a standard tea bag steeped once in an 8-oz. cup. And with the second steeping, the flavor evolution begins.
Flavor molecules in tea are absorbed by water at varying rates, with the most volatile molecules dominating the first infusion. But as the steepings proceed, more and more subtle flavors are unmasked, and each infusion tastes subtly different from the rest. Many enthusiasts find they prefer the third or fourth steep of certain oolong teas, while the complexities of fermented puerh tea might best be unraveled over 5 or 6 steepings or more. This delightful evolving flavor experience in multi-steep brewing is highly valued by avid tea drinkers, and cannot be duplicated in any other way.
The NOVO’s generous brewing cup allows plenty of room for the tea leaves to expand, bloom, move about, and release their flavors for an expert brew. And when it comes to freshness, there is nothing fresher than tea brewed just seconds before each 1½ ounce sip.
High levels of antioxidants
Along with flavor, many of us drink tea for its antioxidants, which may confer important health benefits like a strong immune system. Numerous sources report that the best way to absorb catechins and other flavonoids from tea is to drink it freshly brewed.1 However, bottled tea products can sit on the shelves for weeks after brewing, and have been measured to contain less than 1/20 of the antioxidants in freshly-brewed tea.2 In contrast, studies suggest that multi-steep brewing can maintain extremely high levels of antioxidants in our blood--significantly higher than drinking freshly brewed tea in the standard way.3
CoolStraw quick cooling technology
CoolStraw is a natural complement to multi-steep brewing. Everyone knows from personal experience that it’s easier and quicker to cool a small amount of liquid than a large amount. That’s why we cool a bowl of hot soup by separating a spoonful at a time to puff on, instead of trying to cool the whole bowl at once. Qterra’s CoolStraw follows the same principle.
CoolStraw cools each 1½-ounce dose of tea from any brewing temperature to an ideal 140°F as you sip it from cup to mouthpiece. Energy-absorbing phase change material (PCM) in contact with the beverage channel does the trick. Just as an ice cube will lower the temperature of liquid around it to 32°F because that’s the melting point of ice, CoolStraw’s PCM will cool hot tea to 140°F because that’s the melting point of the PCM we use. The PCM, in a compartment completely separate from the tea, is vegetable-based and completely non-toxic. While you’re savoring the delicious tea the PCM just cooled, the PCM itself is being cooled by the ambient air, so it will be ready to cool the next dose.
That means no more long waiting for hot tea to cool down so you can drink it. And no more rush to drink before your drinkable tea gets too cold. With NOVO, you brew, cool and enjoy 1½ ounces of tea at a time, sip by sip.
The NOVO’s drinking straw, unusual in hot beverageware, serves several valuable functions. It transports the tea from the brewing cup up through the CoolStraw unit and into your mouth spillfree. Its perforated tip filters out tea leaves in the brewing cup, so the entire volume of the cup can be used by the leaves to expand and release their flavor. Also, drinking through a straw makes staining teeth, hurting sensitive teeth, and smearing your lipstick less likely. And NOVO’s straw lets you drink your tea without taking your eyes off the world around you. No more tipping your head back to sip from a standard travel mug. With NOVO, you can maintain eye contact with the road, your computer or your companion, while drinking your tea to the last drop.
Eco-friendly and economical
We know disposable drinking cups harm the planet, with over 50 billion dispensed each year by US cafes and fast-food restaurants alone. A 2000 report by an environmental study group found that substituting reusable ceramic mugs for disposable cups would cause 99% less water pollution, 86% less air particulates, and 86% less solid waste from manufacturing, and the benefits from travel mugs would likely be even greater.4 Reusable Qterra NOVO brewers will help.
In terms of personal economy, with a cup of tea costing as much as $4 at a restaurant or cafe, brewing your own premium tea with the NOVO is a luxury that can actually save you money.
Who we are
Qterra travel brewers will be produced by inventor and company president Pierre Baston leading a highly experienced and talented team.
Pierre Baston (Inventor, CEO)
Pierre developed his cultural insights over a lifetime devoted to foreign travel and the study of world culture. At 15, he was named Goodwill Ambassador by the City of Philadelphia and spent the summer in Germany as part of the Experiment in International Living. Since then, in many trips abroad, he has conducted business and made friends in French, German, Italian, Swedish and Spanish. He was a Scholar of the House at Yale College. As U.S. Representative to the Safety Commission of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) in Rome, he helped set the textile and metallurgical safety standards for equipment used in the sport today. As president of an import/export company, he sold innovative lightweight miner’s lamps to gold mines in Brazil. He earned 2 certificates from the Master’s Program of the Tango School of Argentina (Escuela Argentina de Tango) in Buenos Aires. An inventor with patents now in Argentina, the U.S. and Japan, Pierre has combined his love of world culture and his entrepreneurial spirit to bring the Qterra NOVO to a tea-loving world on the go.
Andrew Serbinski (Industrial Designer)
Over the past 25 years, Andrew Serbinski (Machineart Industrial Design, Frenchtown, NJ) has demonstrated his innovative talent in a wide range of product categories including consumer electronics, medical devices, computers, power sports, children's products and housewares. His designs have won numerous prestigious awards including 3 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEAs)--one, a Gold IDEA for a futuristic motorcycle concept. An inflatable CPR aid he designed has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art. All of Andrew's designs, from baby stroller to electric toothbrush, exhibit color, curve and texture and a novel arrangement of parts that spell exciting modern technology.
Tom Krol (Electrical Designer/Assembly Manager)
Tom Krol's IMET Corporation (Southampton, PA) is a design and production firm specializing in product development and assembly. IMET was named 2014 Manufacturer of the Year by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber Of Commerce. The 13-year-old company has experienced a fourfold increase in business over the past four years, and just moved into a new 150,000 ft.² facility to handle the volume. Its recent investment of half a million dollars in state-of-the-art machines has increased operational efficiency, quality and price competitiveness. Products IMET has helped design include a multimedia Wizard of Oz pinball machine, and a body scanner that fits shoppers for clothing. Tom will design the printed circuit boards that will control the heating of water for brewing in future versions of Qterra travel brewers. Well-trained IMET staff will also assemble and quality check all Qterra models, including the NOVO.
Alexis Siemons (Tea Consultant)
Alexis Siemons is a tea consultant and writer living in Philadelphia. She is certified in the Foundations of Tea (Level 1 & 2) by the Specialty Tea Institute, a division of the Tea Association of the USA. As a tea enthusiast, she writes about her steeped adventures on her website and blog, teaspoonsandpetals.com, teaches a series of culinary tea classes, and develops tea-infused recipes for restaurants and cafes. She also consults with tea and teaware companies, developing tea programs and creative marketing strategies. Her recipes and stories have been published in Anthology Magazine, Kinfolk Magazine, Remedy Quarterly, Design*Sponge, Philadelphia Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine and Fresh Cup Magazine.
What has been done, what remains
Four generations of prototypes of the NOVO have been produced to test and refine mechanical design and function. The feasibility of the quick cooling system has been confirmed by physical testing and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis. What we must do now, with your support, is optimize the final designs for performance, durability and economy, make the molds (extremely expensive), and produce the first run of NOVOs from which your rewards will be delivered. We expect to follow this timeline.
- January, 2015: Funded. Optimization engineering and testing.
- April: Order molds, raw materials and components.
- July: Molds arrive. Part validation, pilot production, quality assurance, product validation.
- August: Production of molded parts.
- October: Product assembly and packaging.
- November: NOVOs and all rewards delivered.
The mission of Qterra is to develop and market consumer products that bring new utility, convenience, and beauty to people’s lives through traditional practices from around the globe enjoyed in modern ways. The company will design products that are safe for the user and safe for the environment. While offering a range of price points to place its products within almost everyone’s reach, the company stands for the principle that greatest value comes from highest quality.
In the name “Qterra,” “terra” is for the earth that provides the tea and coffee we enjoy. It’s also for the world of human culture from which many diverse and ingenious traditional practices have sprung. “Q” stands for the modern technology we add to create cutting-edge solutions for today’s busy lifestyles.
Please support this project, and help us bring these products and the Qterra tea-loving community to life. Thank you!
Qterra...a world of flavor in the palm of your hand
1 Harvard Health Publications, September 2004, accessed online at http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefit_of_drinking_green_tea.
2 The American Chemical Society, August 22, 2010, accessed online at http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2010/august/bottled-tea-beverages-may-contain-fewer-polyphenols-than-brewed-tea.
3 “Ilex paraguariensis extracts are potent inhibitors of nitrosative stress: a comparative study with green tea and wines using a protein nitration model and mammalian cell cytotoxicity,” Mindy Bixby, Lauren Spieler, Teresita Menini, Alejandro Gugliucci, Life Sciences, Volume 77, Issue 3, 3 June 2005, Pages 345-358, accessed online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024320505001505.
4 “Report of the Starbucks Coffee Company/Alliance for Environmental Innovation Joint Task Force (No. 1),” Alliance for Environmental Innovation 2000, Environmental Defense and the Pew Charitable Trusts: Boston, MA, accessed online at http://www.aashe.org/files/resources/student-research/2009/Fisher2008.pdf .
Special thanks to:
Eguiguren, Arte de Hispanoamerica (publishers, Buenos Aires, Argentina) for their permission to reproduce images from El Mate en America (2004)
Director Jonathan Deutsch, Rosemary Trout, Paul O'Neill, Ana Caballero, Alexandra Zeitz and students of Drexel University's Dept. of Culinary Arts and Food Science
Milton Ross, Lois and Ron Loe, Juan Carlos and Teresa Figueroa, Doug Raymond, Arlene Martin, Steven Kwasnik, Steve and Judy Seliker, Jacqueline Tiede, Maria Santillo, Ine Witteveen, Geronimo and Javier of El Fuego Restaurant, Rocco Rosanio, Michael "Zaz" Braxton, Lori Evensen, Pat Attack, Shazel VeNessta, Grace Kennedy, Antonio Rorie
Qterra(TM), Qterra NOVO(TM), Qterra NOVO Multi-Steep Travel Brewer(TM), CoolStraw(TM) and "...a world of flavor in the palm of your hand"(TM) are trademarks of this company
Risks and challenges
The Qterra team of designers, engineers and manufacturers possess an extraordinary depth of talent, knowledge and experience. Nevertheless, unanticipated challenges that might cause delay can always arise. Optimizing the cooling system for the best balance of efficiency and size may require extra iterations, and debugging product molds is always somewhat unpredictable.
The NOVO descriptions and images presented in this proposal represent the result of design work done to date. The final engineering that your investments make possible will undoubtedly uncover multiple ways in which the function, reliability, ergonomics, appearance and economy of the designs can be improved. Continual improvement is our goal. As a result, the products you receive may differ in some ways from those described here. We assure you that any differences will only be those that make for the best products possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)