The typical American teahouse doesn’t have an automated tea brewer, simply because there are very few commercial-grade machines on the market. Instead, teas are usually hand-brewed—often several at once—which is time consuming and customarily imprecise.
To modernize tea brewing, create consistency and make tea shop employees’ jobs easier, Alpha Dominche, a design and technology firm in Brooklyn, New York, offers up the innovative, sleek-looking Steampunk tea brewer. What makes the Steampunk unique, says Alpha Dominche CEO Thomas Perez, is it gives operators full control of the brewing process and the ability to replicate recipes. Settings for amount of water, water temperature, brewing time and number of times a tea is steeped can all be saved—and saved to the cloud so they can be shared among teahouses.
“If your tea shop has 50 different teas, you basically dial in a recipe for each one,” Perez says. “Then when a customer asks for a certain tea, just pick that recipe and the Steampunk will always brew it perfectly.”
Alpha Dominche’s initial impetus for designing the Steampunk was actually to automate the coffee brewing process and cut down on the work required of baristas. “When we launched the machine [in 2013] and the whole tea world saw it, everyone said, ‘wow, this is exactly what we’ve been waiting for,’” Perez says. “Then it became a tea machine as well. Today we sell more Steampunks to tea shops and to coffee shops that want to have a good tea program than we sell to businesses using them only for coffee.”
As its name suggests, steam is the Steampunk’s main catalyst in a multistep brewing process. During the first step, water is added to a cylindrical glass chamber and heated with steam. Next, the filter piston is inserted into the top section of the chamber and tea is added. Full tea leaf emersion occurs along with complete leaf saturation. Then steam agitations are used to accelerate extraction and a steam-created vacuum is applied, forcing brewed tea through the filter and into the lower section of the chamber.
Perez says the machine’s sleek aesthetics also make it a standout. “It’s the minimalist design and the great visual connection you have with the tea brewing,” he says. “You see the whole brewing process firsthand.”
Perez believes the Steampunk will revolutionize commercial tea brewing. “Tea is one of the most consumed drinks in the world, but in a hospitality setting, it has been standing in the shadow of coffee for many years—I think that is finally changing,” he says. The Steampunk has already become trendy in Asia, especially in China and Taiwan. “Many customers basically build their whole teahouse or coffee shop around the Steampunk,” Perez adds. “It is almost like a centerpiece.” Additional customers include Marriott and some hotels in the Middle East.
Now, this handy machine is poised to take on America.