200th blog post achievement unlocked. xD
I probably should have visited the Grosche.ca website before testing this infuser mug. Not having a good iced tea mug, I was intrigued by the Marino’s design and picked up at Eli Tea Bar with the promise that I’d review it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the greatest success with it initially. Admittedly, this occurred from failure to read the directions (since there weren’t any).
My biggest issue with the Marino is ironically a design flaw. The filter basket cannot be easily removed after brewing. I had mistakenly assumed it could be and after brewing a nice homemade Green bubble tea in it for a staff meeting, I pulled the filter basket so as to remove the tea from the water. Turns out, if you remove the filter basket, the gap created will cause the mug to leak like a sieve once you unscrew the top to take a drink. Sure, the infuser works if you leave the filter basket in… but doing so will overbrew whatever you have in there. I suppose you could brew the tea and then remove the filter, rinse it clean of tea and then put it back into the tumbler for drinking, but doing so feels like it defeats the purpose of having a removable filter basket (and honestly it looks dumb for there to be an empty filter basket in there).
The one thing the Marino will brew well without much effort is Fruit tea. Fruit tea can remain in the water infusing past the recommended 5 or 8 minutes without detrimental effect. Also, Fruit tea really only yields one good steep, so there wouldn’t be much point in removing it from the liquor. Sadly, however, i don’t drink much Fruit tea. Fruit tea, to me, is kind of the worst of the tisanes–offering aroma without any taste. Oftentimes Fruit teas lend themselves to iced tea making, but again, they don’t have much in the way of flavor by themselves (mostly tasting like sparkling water minus the sparkle).
Today is the first time this summer that we have a heat index over 100 F, so it seemed like the perfect excuse to test the Marino’s Iced tea making abilities. Naturally, I’m not satisfied with the methodology that Grosche perscribes for brewing iced tea in the Marino (“using cold water, insert the filter basket and allow gravity to steep your tea” <-something about that doesn’t jive with my experience), so I applied the usual Iced Fruit tea brewing method: steep in boiling water for five minutes than drop the temperature. It turns out to be a little difficult in the Marino, but here are the steps I came up with if you’d like to make a great tasting Iced Fruit tea look awesome in the Marino.
Start by tipping the Marino upside down, remove the filter basket, fill the filter basket with enough Fruit tea to make about 16 oz (~4 heaping teaspoons) and fill with 16 oz of boiling water. Replace the filter basket bottom and allow 5 minutes to brew.
Next remove three chilled glasses, decant the boiling tea into hard case plastic and then into the frosted glasses to drop the temperature of the tea (rather than just sticking the Marino in the fridge and waiting >two hours for it to chill or putting it immediately into the freezer which could potentially crack the Marino).
Once you’ve chilled the liquor about 20 degrees, and allowed the Marino to sit for several minutes open to air, replace the tea.
Finally place the Marino in the deep freeze for about 20 minutes. Remove, test that the temperature has dropped a decent amount and then switch to the refrigerator for another 20-30 minutes. You should now have a well-brewed Iced Fruit tea.
Note: I had one heck of a time removing the lid to drink the tea afterwards. The boiling, flipping, decanting ended up pressure sealing the lid like you cannot imagine. I don’t have a lot of upper body strength at this point and it took all my energy reserves to remove it.
Conclusion: Grosche’s Marino Water and Tea Infuser looks pretty swank, but if you want to actually brew tea in it, it can be as much of a novelty as the Fruit tea it was designed to brew. Congratulations Grosche–you have the honor of receiving the first “novelty teaware” tag award.