Tea & Crowdfunding: Startup to Launch Qi teamaker on Kickstarter
Keyway Innovations, a startup company based in Hong Kong and Shanghai, has developed the Qi teamaker, a first-of-its-kind tea making product that aims to reinvent the world’s tea brewing experience. They will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign and needs your support to bring their product to the market.
Next to water, tea is the most popular drink in the world, being appreciated by millions of people from different backgrounds and cultures every day. Aside from its great taste, tea also comes in many forms and flavors that offer a wide range of benefits.
While making tea seems easy, making good tea is not. So the Keyway Innovations team aims to deliver an innovative and modernized brewing experience with their Qi teamaker to today’s tea lovers, enabling everyone to effortlessly enjoy good quality and healthy tea as part of the metropolitan lifestyle.
The Qi teamaker takes care of the 4 key elements in brewing a perfect cup of tea, namely water temperature, brewing time, water flow, and tea leaf expansion. At the same time, it provides lots of additional features that make tea brewing easy and enjoyable, whether it is for traditional teas, HK-style milk tea, bubble tea, floral teas or even iced teas.
What makes the Qi teamaker truly unique among all existing tea maker products is its patent-pending technology that does not use a water pump or mechanical agitator to create the necessary water flow. This allows for a hassle-free automatic brewing process with simple preparation and cleanup.
The Qi teamaker comes with 2 versions: Standard and Expert. The Standard version is equipped with built-in programs for brewing many tea varieties, water/leaf separation architecture, clear glass body, aroma-enhancing design, manual rinse tea, and keep warm. The Expert version adds in more features such as customizable brewing settings, automatic rinse tea and automatic dispense tea.
The Keyway Innovations team has spent over 4 years of market research and technology development to put together the product that has become the Qi teamaker today. The core technical aspects of this remarkable tea maker are protected by worldwide patent applications.
Keyway Innovations will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to help bring the Qi teamaker to tea enthusiasts all over the world. The company needs additional funding to successfully undergo the mass production stage, including finalized product design, prototyping and tooling, testing safety certifications, materials and components, manufacturing and quality control, and handling and logistics.
For more information about the Qi teamaker, please visit:
While it will never replace a yixing teapot, I watched your video and your Qi tea maker looks really cool. When will you release this and how much will it cost?
Thanks AllanK. We plan to ship the Qi teamaker next March after a successful Kictarter campaign. The retail price would be around USD179, but you can order during our Kickstarter campaign for up to 25% discount.
For details, please visit our Kickstarter campaign page or http://www.qi-teamaker.com/
BTW, besides using the Qi teamaker to brew tea automatically, we have included a special mode that allows you to use the Qi teamaker as a smart kettle. So you can first use the Qi teamaker to heat the water to the right temperature for your selected tea type. Then brew using your favourite yixing or other types of teapot.
1. How is this better than the existing Breville Tea Maker. I have 2 of those. Looks like you’re aiming for the same price range so it’d have to be appreciably better to replace my current setup.
2. Need details on the customizable brewing features. Is there a farenheit option? Is it to the 1/5/10 degrees? 1/10/15/30 seconds?
3. White tea.
4. 1000 ml is not 8 cups. One of those numbers is wrong.
5. Only 30 minutes of Keep Warm? :(
Thanks Starfevre for your detailed feedback. You must be a big tea fan to own 2 Brevilles.
1. As you know, the Breville Tea Maker is automatic in the sense that it is able to heat the water to the preset level for your tea type and then control the steeping time by lowering and raising the brewing basket. This may be ok for brewing traditional teas.
Our Qi teamaker goes a big step further with our patent-pending flow-based brewing mechanism that is more efficient in brewing the flavours out of the tea ingredients. So not only we can brew great traditional teas hassle-free, we can even make trendy and popular tea types like milk tea (such as Hong Kong-style milk tea and bubble tea) and iced tea (directly brewed using cold water) easily and conveniently.
I’ll bet you will have a tough time brewing these popular teas with the Breville Tea Maker.
In addition, our brewing mechanism really enhances the dispersion of aroma during the brewing process, so the room and surrounding area are often filled with the enticing smell of great tea before you even have the first sip. Too bad the video doesn’t show that and you have to see it and smell it to believe it.
Last but not least, our patent-pending brewing mechanism is driven by something special (think about “Qi”). This also enhances the brew quality in a way no other existing method is able to do. We will leave this point open for you to figure out. :)
2. The Expert version of our Qi teamaker comes with customizable brewing settings with 1 degree and 1 second resolution. We have already implemented those in our current Expert prototypes.
Our Standard version offers one-button operation without customizable brewing settings for customers who just want a hassle-free brewing experience.
Currently we have our settings in the metric system, but we will certainly include imperial units for markets like USA.
3. It is true that we didn’t include white tea on our control panel to save space in comparison with other more popular tea types. On the other hand, the tea experts we consulted recommend using the green tea setting for brewing white tea. The same goes with other tea types such as yellow tea (use green tea setting), pu’er (use black tea setting), rooibos (black tea setting), etc. Our full user manual in the final product will include those in detail.
4. Well, it depends on the definition of a cup. For example, a standard cup for making gongfu tea measures 15mL while a standard coffee mug takes 250mL. We take reference with current brewing products and use 125mL/cup as our base case, which is about the same size as a medium coffee cup we have in our office. So 1L would make 8 cups, 4 mugs or 67 gongfu tea cups.
5. How much time for keep warm do you suggest? We are open in taking suggestions from customers on improving the Qi teamaker. Of course, keeping the tea warm for too long will make it lose its flavors.
BTW, originally we only offer Keep Warm in our Expert version. After strong insistence by our customers, we decided to include Keep Warm in the Standard version as well.
If flow based brewing is more efficient and superior, why don’t we see traditional methods including it instead of doing submersion and swirling of the leaves?
“Last but not least, our patent-pending brewing mechanism is driven by something special (think about “Qi”). This also enhances the brew quality in a way no other existing method is able to do. We will leave this point open for you to figure out. :)”
So… magic? But seriously, I can’t figure out what you mean by that answer other than you are being mysterious and want people to buy the product and figure out the answer themselves.
I’m in Canada, but I think both metric and imperial labelling are important. So many tea companies list their steeping parameters in one or the other and I often can’t remember the conversion, and I’m just not up for doing math first thing in the morning.
Also a “cup” is a pretty common unit of measurement that is equivalent to 8oz or about 250ml, so arbitrarily defining a cup as some other volume is going to be very confusing to Canadians and Americans at least (not sure how common this measurement is in other parts of the world.) Maybe use the word “serving” instead of “cup”, if your cup is 125ml instead of 250ml.
United States customary cup
United States customary cup is defined as half a U.S. pint.
1 U.S. customary cup = 1⁄16 U.S. customary gallon
= 1⁄4 U.S. customary quart
= 1⁄2 U.S. customary pint
= 8 U.S. customary fluid ounces
= 16 U.S. customary tablespoons[nb 1]
= 48 U.S. customary teaspoons
≡ 236.5882365 millilitres[nb 2]
≈ 152⁄3 international tablespoons
≈ 11.75 Australian tablespoons
≈ 0.833 imperial cups
≈ 8.33 imperial fluid ounces
In most recipes it is functionally equivalent to a standard ‘cup’ in Canada or Australia which is 250ml exactly because there’s very little difference.
1. Also I have no idea how brewing milk tea is different from regular tea but iced tea is pretty simple to brew in a Breville. Just brew it double strength and then dilute and pour over ice. Or, not using it at all, cold water and tea in a container in the fridge for hours.
2. That said, one degree resolution is awesome, one second resolution is probably overkill, could probably get away with every 5 or 10 seconds and unless there’s a keyboard input the up button to change that from a 1 minute brew to a 7 minute brew would probably be annoying. But I’d rather one second resolution than 30 seconds, which is my current setup.
3. Okay, this is valid. I wouldn’t even think about ordering a standard anyway because I hate preset buttons because I never ever brew tea according to the ‘accepted’ standards unless I’ve brewed it before and know it’s good at there. Some companies black tea even (looking at you Adagio) can’t be brewed at too hot temperatures without bringing out massive bitterness.
4. See above comment. A ‘cup’ is 8 ounces, it isn’t something you can arbitrarily define. I like the serving suggestion, but you’d have to explicitly define it, or just leave it as 1L and let people do their own math. Because my ‘cup’ that I use at my desk for tea is actually about 400ml so that’s less than 3 servings for me.
5. Forever! Losing taste is my own problem if I forget it and it’s even worse to heat it back up in the microwave. Barring that, an hour is what I would reasonably consider the minimum length of time for a Keep Warm feature.
Is there some sort of diagram that I can see what you mean by ‘flowing’ for the brewing process? I’m having trouble picturing it and I can’t watch video.
And the exact footprint for the standard and expert version (see counterspace argument below) would be nice.
And keep in mind, I probably AM exactly your target market, in that I love love tea and gadgets and have quite a bit of disposable income.
I think the flowing feature is like (and this is a horrible comparison) those cat water dishes that have the water constantly recirculating, except in this case it is recirculated back over the tea leaves.
Not sure if that’s good or bad because I’ve got one of those cat water dishes and they are so SO annoying to clean.
Thanks Dustin for your comments on the flow aspect. It’s actually quite involved, so let me try to explain in detail.
Scientifically speaking, flow helps the brewing process by increasing the concentration gradient between the tea leaves and the water surrounding them. It is similar to what you do to make a tea bag brew faster by pulling it up and down in the cup.
Swirling the tea leaves inside the teapot with pouring water has the same effect, though the effective time only lasts for several seconds. Stirring with something like a spoon will also achieve similar results.
What happens is that the diffused substances like tea polyphenol molecules from the tea leaves will be dispersed throughout the water instead of sticking around the tea leaves. So more goodies are able to come out from the tea leaves and dissolve into the water.
And with a continuous flow, we can achieve a much more efficient brewing process in the sense that we can 1) make a good brew with shorter brewing time, and 2) within a given brewing time make a stronger brew than normal.
As traditional Chinese teas generally do not need to be brewed very strong before drinking, having a flow mechanism to increase brewing efficiency could seem excessive for some. However, the flow mechanism does also make the water/leaf separation architecture possible, which helps to prevent over-infusion and realize a truly automatic brewing process.
And for more trendy tea types such as Hong Kong-style milk tea, Taiwanese bubble tea, Malaysian teh tarik, the base tea needs to be very strong (yes, VERY bitter and astringent) for the drink to taste good. Traditional brewing methods for home use would have a hard time making such drinks. But with our flow mechanism in the Qi teamaker, brewing such drinks would be a breeze.
And the flow mechanism helps when we make iced tea. I will respond to this on another thread.
Well, it’s not magic that drives the flow, though it’s quite magical to see the brewing mechanism works in front of you. =) Even though there is quite a bit of science and engineering behind how our brewing mechanism works, it’s relatively simple in construction and works reliably well.
It’s not our intent to sound mysterious and perhaps spook our potential customers. Rather, it’s more for not giving our competitors too much of a head start by revealing too much detailed technical information beforehand. Afterall, we are launching a Kickstarter campaign that involves a lag of time between initial project exposure and actual market introduction.
To give you some more hint: check out the “Top 10 Features” infographic on our Kickstarter profile and there is one point that is very much related to how our flow mechanism works.
Might have missed my other comment, but I would still like an answer to how big the counter footprint is for the Expert setup.
Starfevre, sorry for our late reply. Your input is very valuable to us, but we have been busy yesterday dealing with other project-related tasks and don’t have time responding to every inquiry.
1. There are several different kinds of milk tea out there. For English milk tea, we typical need a relatively light black tea brew, so simple steeping is ok. But for stronger types such as Hong Kong-style milk tea, Taiwanese bubble tea and Malaysian teh tarik, the brew needs to be extremely strong. So strong and astringent that you probably would cringe and spit out right away (no kidding). Otherwise the end mixture would taste more like milky water than tea.
If you are interested, you can search for videos online or visit your local bubble tea shop (if one exists) to see how such milk teas are made.
One point is that since it’s very difficult to make a nice strong brew for milk tea, some shops actually use synthetic essences (basically chemical additives) to produce fake milk tea (or even coffee) that tastes more or less like the real thing. A few drops would do the trick and it costs like nothing, but definitely not good for your health.
As for iced tea, the thing about brewing in hot water first and then add ice is that brewing in high temperature water releases more of the tea polyphenols (i.e. tannins) to the tea. So you get more bitter and astringent taste in the tea. Using cold water to brew would get less, so the brew would taste more sweet and fresh.
On the other hand, brewing in cold water would take hours in the fridge as you noted. But with our Qi teamaker and flow mechanism, we are able to shorten the brewing time to 4 to 8 minutes.
2. Having what degree of time and temperature resolution mainly depends on the component cost and ease of control for the user. We will take your comments into consideration. And yes, we share your annoyance for per second resolution. It takes forever to switch from 2 minutes for green tea to 10 minutes for milk tea on our older prototype.
3. The Expert takes up a bit more space as it offers additional features like automatic tea rinse and dispensing. So we may later roll out a version say Standard Plus with a smaller footprint but with customizable brewing settings. Or for the techies out there, we can perhaps send out a development kit for users to hack the PCB in the Standard to customize the parameters :).
5. Agree that 1 hour should be ok. But we do also recommend pouring the tea out into a thermos mug of some sort for better heat insulation in colder climate.
6. So you have trouble viewing our videos? In our latest video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nceh2tsGdQ0) you can get a glimpse of the flow mechanism in our latest prototype at about the 2:50 mark. Our earlier video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyHuQAQj57o) shows the same mechanism for our older prototype at the 2:00 mark.
Pictorially speaking, if you can refer to the product pictures and step 5 of the traditional brewing sequence in our KIckstarter profile (http://www.qi-teamaker.com/), water is first drawn from the glass pot reservoir up the vertical metal tube. Then the water is dispersed over the tea leaves inside the infuser and flows back down to the pot reservoir.
7. The pot part for the Standard and Expert are basically the same dimensions, with diameter of about 130mm at the lid and 170mm at the widest point. Add an extra 95mm for the handle. The height stands at about 240mm. You can convert to imperial units for better understanding.
The base part for the Standard is about 50mm with diameter of 240mm. We haven’t finalized the base part design for the Expert yet, but it would most likely not exceed 300mm x 200mm x 50mm.
Since we don’t actually own a Breville, do you mind giving us its rough dimensions for comparison?
9. Not sure what type of cat dishes are you referring to. Can you give us a link?
1. This is interesting. I’m not as interested, personally, in HK milk tea. I have exceptionally sensitive bitter receptors on my tongue so things that are too astringent and bitter (and that bar is really low) I just don’t drink that much of. I can see how that would be hard to make though. I generally fail at making iced tea at anything other than the cold brew fridge method for some reason (a character failing, I guess). Instant (relatively speaking) iced tea would make me very happy.
2. Yes, exactly. I’m curious if there is an actual component cost to making it less sensitive (5-10 second intervals) rather than a programming cost. I wouldn’t think so, but this is not my area of expertise at all. (Airplanes).
3. Standard Plus sounds like it would be good for someone like me. Depends. I’m not a techie to that extent so good luck on the rest of that.
5. Pouring it into a thermos never occurred to me before this sentence and you are a GENIUS.
6. Your videos work fine, I just don’t watch video at work, which is where I am. Currently no computer at home and youtube works really funny on my phone. I can a little picture what I think is going on. Is the water constantly going over the entire steeping interval? Otherwise I’d be worried about water exposure times. The breville has a setting where it moves the basket up and down but sometimes the basket is out of the water and that worries me.
7. Breville base is approximately 150mm by 200mm (6 inches by 8 inches) according to my really quick ruler measurement. Pot is 1200ml of tea capacity and 1500ml if used as a kettle for just water. It’s about 10 inches (250mm) tall.
It also has an auto-start feature. Which I used when I was waking up really early in the morning but I’ve gotten lazy recently.
8. THERE IS NO EIGHT.
9. Ugly link incoming. The cat fountain I have looks something like this. I know this one is a dog fountain, but I have 5 cats so they need a lot of water. http://www.chewy.com/dog/pioneer-pet-stainless-steel-drinking/dp/49052?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hg&utm_content=185&utm_term=&gclid=CLyEiO6C-MACFY17fgod9G4AJg
1. Well, that’s the beauty of milk teas. While the tea base is bitter and astringent, once we add the milk (evaporated or condensed version), the resultant milk tea mixture would become mellow and full-bodied, sometimes even tastes like hot chocolate. What happens is that the protein in the milk would neutralize the bitterness and astringency caused by the tea polyphenols, thereby producing a drink that is rich in both tea and milk flavors.
3. Actually we have an idea of how to make the Standard Plus in a nice and hip way, but we will probably leave that to our next Kickstarter project.
5. I take that as a compliment. =) And it’s just a practical issue we faced when brewing tea in places without adequate winter heating. Adding extra insulation to the Qi teamaker would be too costly, and continuously reheating the tea during keep warm doesn’t seem nice.
6. Can you explain a bit more about your point on the basket being out of the water and how it worries you? For us, water gets in contact with the tea leaves only during the brewing process. Once the brewing process is completed, water stops entering the infuser and all the water returns to the pot reservoir below. So we won’t get over-infused tea afterwards.
7. Thanks for the measurements. We have also dug up some dimension numbers from the web that agree with your numbers. As for the auto-start feature, we have talked about it within the team and we’ll probably leave it to the Standard Plus and Expert versions.
9. Looks interesting. Seems it has an internal water pump to drive the water. Thanks for sharing.
1. I am just ridiculously sensitive to bitterness. It’s not something most people deal with.
3. Now this is just teasing. Inquiring minds want to know.
5. Yeah, reheating is bad but I am also the slowest tea drinker on the planet. Character flaw.
6. Just that during the brewing process (of the Breville that I’m talking about, during the basket agitation feature) there is time when the tea is not in contact with any water at all. It makes me worry about inaccuracies of steeping times. Is it really steeping for 2 minutes or should I add more time to account for the time being out of the water? Stuff like that. If water is continuously in contact with the tea for your Qi, it’s not the same issue at all.
7. I’m glad. Ruler on the desk isn’t usually the most accurate of measurements.
9. Yes, and it’s really noisy too. Especially when it gets dirty.
Thanks Starfevre again for your valuable feedback. We have collected quite a lot of comments from here and other places and we would like to spend a bit of time to fine-tune our Kickstarter campaign before launching.
And thanks for giving us the inspiration for the Standard Plus version. We would like to start working on it rightaway and should be ready very soon. Will keep everyone posted. Cheers!
I would also like to see the comparison between this and the Breville.
The things that make the difference to me would be these:
1. How the mechanism differs. Breville’s has a basket that lowers to the water, this doesn’t seem to do that, but from the intro video looks like a coffee machine mechanism.
2. Materials and technology. What is it made of? BPA free plastic? glass? etc. Does it feature exposed or hidden heating elements? How is the ease of cleaning? How does this hold up to normal and heavy household use?
Now, I realize that these topics are actually covered in the video with the older prototype. But hey, I’m lazy, and I like to see things spelled out for me in writing (I also hadn’t watched the other video when I wrote the questions). Or you can cover these topics in the intro video and hit all the points at once. It also reassures the customer that the important things have or have not changed in the most up to date prototype. Maybe also cover water resistance of the electronic base so we know if we’ll accidentally fry the whole machine if we spill just a little water on it. Is the pot fully submergible for washing? Dishwater safe? Those things.
Also listing or showing the difference from the standard to the expert model would be good too. Photographs or video. I know personally I would put out the extra money if an appliance was in chrome or stainless steel, even if all the internals were essentially the same.
I think what you term as ‘floral tea’ has closer to the temperature/time asked for of white tea, while when now when I think of floral tea I’m thinking herbal tisanes, which tend to ask for boiling water for at least 3 minutes.
I see you answered most of my questions in the reply to Starfevre. =) Perhaps consider making that information more accessible on the Kickstarter page.
Thanks Flyawaybirdie for your insightful comments! Appreciate that you have gone through the text description and videos in detail.
A lot of your comments are related to the actual usage of the Qi teamaker, and we would address most of them in our planned FAQ section. However, Kickstarter only allows us to publish the FAQ after our campaign is actually launched. So I will address your comments directly below, and we will consider revising our contents to make them more accessible.
1. Comparison with Breville – as you noted, please see my reply to Starfevre.
2. Materials – In our current 2014 prototype, the pot body is made of borosilicate glass, the same type of heat resistant glass that is used in Breville and other glass-based tea makers and kettles. Other metallic and plastic parts are of food-grade and temperature-resistant quality. In the final market-ready product, we will upgrade our materials further (e.g. polished stainless steel) for a better finishing.
3. Heating element – Much like the Breville, our heating element is located beneath the metal plate inside the pot.
4. Cleaning – Our cleaning procedure is similar to those in the Breville and the like. The pot body can be rinsed under the tap but not submerged in water. The handled infuser and pump tube (the metallic tube inside the pot) are detachable and dishwasher safe.
5. Reliability – We are currently undergoing home testing for our prototypes inside our own homes. We use them daily to make at least 1 pot of tea per day. After 3 months of continuous daily usage, we have experienced no major problems. Before the final product actually goes to market, we will have them undergo extensive stress testing by accredited third party labs to ensure the utmost product safety and reliability for all of us.
6. Safety – Throughout our design process, we have strictly followed relevant international safety guidelines for similar types of electric appliances. Afterall, we are users as well. So accidental spilling of water over the base would pose no problem. On the other hand, submerging the pot or the base in water, as with the Breville and similar products, would be simply no-no. Please follow our user manual in the final product for usage scenario recommendations and precautions.
7. Standard vs Expert – Our current 2014 prototypes are of the Standard version design. The Expert version is still in the works, but it would largely resemble the Standard version in appearance except for the base part. Functionality-wise, our 2013 video shows how the Expert version would operate, featuring our earlier-version prototype design.
8. For floral tea, we typically refer to flower-based teas such as chrysanthemum, rose, sweet olive, etc. They generally don’t need high temperature to brew. For herbal teas that are root-based such as ginseng and ginger, they need a higher brewing temperature and we suggest using the black tea setting to brew.
I find it silly how Kickstarter doesn’t let you show everything on a draft. If you have a website host, I would say to create your own product page. I see you already have a domain name- but the site forwards to the kickstarter page. Make your own website and have it ready for launch. This will also show that you’re serious as a company about your product. Those seeking more information can then find contact details, history of the product design, history of the company, etc. Even on kickstarter there can be the unfortunate circumstance of startups that end up failing post-project and running off with the funding. You want to inspire confidence that you won’t do that, and thus gain more backers. You might even snare a few people that want to do larger scale backing than Kickstarter allows for.
From the standard to expert specs: It looks like the expert will be a kettle on a larger flat base? This can be advantageous or disadvantageous for you. While it looks nice in a casual setting, like on the coffee table between friends, the smaller standard is looking to pull ahead because it doesn’t have a large footprint on the countertop, and I’ve heard it mentioned more than once that countertop space is at a premium. There are at least two types of kitchen appliances- the ones you put away because they are seldomly used and/or too big, and the ones you have out all the time because they are often used and don’t take up all your room. I would say that if this tea maker succeeds, you’ll want to push into the latter category, making yourself indispensable as a household appliance. Don’t assume that everyone has tons of counterspace- at one point in college my ‘counterspace’ consisted of a rolling cart inbetween me and my roommate in our dorm room. We managed to have our best appliances on there: a microwave and a hot water kettle.
So the Standard version doesn’t feature advanced temperature control, which makes it more akin to the TriniTea, which is at half the MSRP. The Expert is more on the playing field of the Breville with it’s temperature control settings as a tea maker. Let me know if I got that wrong.
Thanks again Flyawaybirdie for your input. We will continuously make efforts to improve our project communications.
Actually our company Facebook page perhaps contains more information regarding our project. http://www.facebook.com/keyway.innovations/. Sometimes we find it easier to work with our Facebook page than to actually update our own company website (www.keyway-innovations.com). So we’ve decided to make the site minimal and focus our effort on other more urgent project tasks.
It’s unfortunate to see how some successfully crowdfunded projects crash and burn afterwards. On the other hand, we actually first tried crowdfunding with Indiegogo last year. Even though we didn’t reach our goal by far, we attracted enough support offline to get us through the prototyping stage. What is important is that we truly believe in our project and we are glad that now we have the results to show for it after all the hard work.
As for the Expert, the base is bigger mostly because we need to add a drain for the functions of automatic rinse tea and dispensing. Otherwise, the pot part is mostly the same as the Standard.
As noted in my other replies, we may roll out a new version say Standard Plus that allows customizable brewing settings but in the same compact size as the Standard.
And we understand the space issue in the kitchen and we certainly don’t want to list ourselves among the ranks of kitchen gadgets that nobody really uses, like the sandwich maker (which BTW made popular by our friends at Breville).
Actually we are using our Qi teamaker as a living room appliance placed on our end table. It’s quite pleasant to be surrounded by the enticing smell of good tasting tea while we watch TV or play with our iPad.
For TrinitTEA, do you mean this product? http://www.adagio.com/teaware/triniTEA.html Again, this device, like the Breville and almost all other tea maker products out there, focuses on just automating or semi-automating the traditional tea steeping process.
For us, not only our first-of-its-kind flow-based brewing mechanism allows more than just making traditional teas, it can also make all other kinds of trendy and tasty tea drinks like milk tea and fresh iced tea that would otherwise be too difficult or time-consuming to make yourself.
Our Top 10 Features infographic in our Kickstarter profile gives a good summary of Qi teamaker’s main features to start. And there are also a number of hidden gems that we will reveal as we proceed with our campaign (did we mention about our patent-pending dripless spout design?)
Anyway, we are also experimenting with alternative uses (i.e. void the warranty) for our Qi teamaker other than making tea with interesting results. So we expect to expand our product line in the future.
This looks really neat. I’m quite intrigued by a tea maker that does iced, bubble and milk teas.
I’ll be honest though, I may not be your target market, as I’m not convinced I need a specific and expensive device for making tea, in addition to the kettle and tea ware I already own. I like the idea of temperature settings but it may make a lot more sense for me to buy a variable temp kettle with fully adjustable temperature controls for <$100.
I like to make a single cup of tea at a time, and I like to have several different types of tea throughout the day. Will this be suitable for making only 250ml of tea? Will I be able to quickly and easily clean it out between making different teas?
I can’t quite tell from the photos, but on the standard, do the pre-programmed settings actually list what they are on the label? (eg, does it just say “Oolong” or does it say “90C” directly on the product?)
Can I mix and match the temperatures and times, or am I stuck with choosing a preset and setting my time within that range? (eg, I have some oolongs I prefer steeped for 7min, and some greens that I prefer steeped for less than 1min.)
With the customizable brewing strength settings, does that mean that I can pre-program three different steep times for each type of tea? Or are these strengths pre-set?
Thanks Anlina for your input from Canada. I am personally a Leaf fan deep in my heart. =)
We understand that different people have different ways of enjoying tea, especially tea aficionados who have your own favourite methods of brewing. That’s perfectly ok.
Again, our core target customers are tea lovers who want to appreciate a good tasting cup of tea but don’t necessary have the time to make a good brew in our busy metropolitan lifestyle, whether it’s traditional Chinese teas, Hong Kong-style milk tea, Taiwanese bubble tea, floral teas or even iced teas.
Speaking from my personal experience, even though I like tea very much, before having our Qi teamaker made I seldom use my own teapot and kettle to make tea because I found it too much of a hassle to prepare, brew and cleanup afterwards (yes, I am both busy and lazy).
Furthermore, not only I don’t have good control of the brewing temperature, I also cannot control the brewing time precisely and often over-steep the tea leaves and ruin the whole pot of tea.
Now with the Qi teamaker, it solves all of my problems and I am able to enjoy good tasting tea every day hassle-free. In addition, I am able to make trendy tea types such as HK-style milk tea and iced tea that would otherwise be next to impossible to brew nice and fresh within 6 to 8 minutes.
Anyway, we’ve also added in an extra operation mode that makes the Qi teamaker function as a smart kettle. For example, if you want 80degC water, just select “Green Tea” and then press “Start” without putting the infuser inside the pot. Then in a few minutes you will have water heated to 80degC for you to pour and brew using your own teapot. It is actually quite pleasant to see the water slowly heats up through the clear glass body.
So the Qi teamaker is both an automatic tea/beverage maker and a smart kettle all-in-one. Whether it is worth a good buy, we will leave it to the consumers to decide. We certainly appreciate all the valuable consumer feedback like yours to fine-tune and improve our product and marketing strategy.
For the Standard version, we have all the brewing settings preprogrammed according to tea type and tea strength. Since we offer 6 tea types and 3 tea strengths, we have 18 possible preset brewing settings. It will be mapped out in detail in our user guide, but we could add it to our Kickstarter profile as well for those who are interested.
Say if I want 90degC and 3mins, that is mapped to “Oolong” and “Medium”. And for 90degC and 4mins, that is mapped to “Oolong” and “Strong”. Such arrangement should satisfy most usage scenarios. But for your case of Oolong (I assume you are ok at 90degC) and 7mins, you probably need to first brew using “Oolong” and “Medium”, and once it is finished brew again using “Oolong” and “Strong”.
To keep things simple, the Standard version does not allow the users customize the preset brewing settings. If you need really customized brewing settings (say 92 degC and 6.5mins for Oolong), then you probably need the Expert version for that.
On the other hand, we foresee that some customers may want to customize their brewing programs but do not necessary need the extra features in the Expert (say automatic rinse tea). So we may launch a third version later on (say calling it Standard Plus) that is in the same compact form as the Standard, but allows fully customizable brewing settings.
Thanks for all of your comments regarding cup volume. We have 2 tea makers in our Shangahi office that are of the same designs as the following except for the brand:
Even though their capacity are both 1L, both of their glass carafes show 8 cups at the max level. So perhaps it’s due to the difference in unit conversion between products selling in China and other markets.
We will consider revising our note regarding the cup issue. Thanks again!
BTW, our Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/keyway.innovations/. Come like us if you like what we are doing. :)
Rick, I really appreciate the way you have taken so much time to respond to everyone, and applaud the tea drinkers for the thorough questions. It’s great to see such a nice dialogue.
We have just launched our Qi teamaker project on Kickstarter! Thanks to you all, we have revised our profile according to your suggestions.
What’s more important is that we have added a Qi teamaker version that comes with its own smartphone app! Now you can easily customize the brewing settings and track the brewing process right on your smartphone!
For details, please visit Qi teamaker’s Kickstarter page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rickha/qi-teamaker-an-innovative-brewing-experience/
Cheers! Have a great day!
The one function I don’t see that might be considered would be timer based brewing capability. Set it the night before and have tea when you wake/arrive.
Interested to understand what your anticipated distribution chain looks like.