By October 16, 2005

Bodum Assam Line 1 Teapot Review

Lady Jaye and I started drinking loose leaf tea not too long ago and we haven’t looked back. We really like our Adagio IngenuiTEA teapot, but it’s only really good for one cup. After all the hemming and hawing I had to do to get my free PersonaliTEA pot from them, we decided that 21 ounces of tea was more than we could drink in one sitting without it getting cold. Furthermore, the mesh diffuser (where you put the loose tea leaves so they can steep) stayed in contact with the water the whole time. This makes the tea super strong. Unlike Superman, “super strong” isn’t an attribute you particularly want out of your tea.

The search was on for a smaller teapot with an integrated diffuser. Believe it or not, it is pretty hard to find such a critter without the presence of any real tea stores. Rostov’s had some, but their prices were high for the teapots that we liked. We were beginning to wonder if we would have to order a teapot sight unseen online when we ran into this little fellow:

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The Bodum Assam Line 1 teapot is a glass teapot that holds 16oz of your favorite tea. There were a few things we liked about the teapot immediately. It was cheap ($20) but didn’t look like it. Sure, the black plastic handle is a little overwhelming, but the glass teapot is elegant, particularly when there’s tea inside. The coolest feature, however, is the diffusion chamber. The chamber is a plastic cylinder with little holes in the the top 3/4 of it. The diffuser snaps into the teapot, and then you put a black plastic plunger atop the diffuser. It operates just like a french press. Do I capitalize French press? I guess that makes it read like the press of France. Fuck.

Anyway, you put the tea in the diffuser, then pour the hot water on top of the tea, and then put the black plunger on top of the diffuser. You wait 3 – 5 minutes for the tea to steep and then (carefully) push the plunger down. Okay, get ready for the cool part. The plunger eventually pushes all of the tea to the bottom 1/4 of the chamber, beneath the holes. The tea is unable to steep any more! I am sure other pots have this feature, but for me it’s one of the coolest things ever.

We bought it at a kitchen store and have probably put 200 pots of tea through it. Not all at once mind you. The positive aspects of the teapot are still rocking us. It’s perfect for 1.5 cups of tea for each of us while we’re playing gin or War and Sheep. The plunger works like a champ. One benefit to the plunger-chamber system that I didn’t think about when I purchased the teapot was that it makes it easier to reuse the tea leaves for a second pot. Since the leaves aren’t steeping while you drink your first pot, they are as strong as they’ll ever be for round two.

Unfortunately, and not entirely the teapot’s fault, the Assam has revealed one of my character flaws. I do not have the patience to pour the tea slowly enough through its tiny spout.

If you fill the teapot up too much (say, an inch from the top of the spout) then you better be motherfucking Ghandi before you try to pour your first cup. Now, the Bodum instructions tell you this but what the hell do they know? It seems like a waste to only fill the teapot 4/5 of the way full. Well, trust me. Unless you want to spill hot tea all over the table and yourself, follow the directions. Too much liquid fills the tiny spout and the tea will run down the front of the teapot. It’s impossible to pour a full teapot without spilling. Even if you put the proper amount of water in the teapot, it’s very hard (unless you pour slowly at first) to dispense any tea without spilling. I can count on one hand the number of pots I’ve poured without spilling any tea. Seriously, I think the number is four, and that’s because I’ve started being extra patient this last week.

Piping hot features

  • Cheeeeap! Glass teapots on Adagio start at around $30+ after shipping.
  • The plastic plunger is a fantastic idea.
  • The removable diffusion chamber is easy to clean.
  • The glass teapot is nice to look at, particularly when it’s full of tea.
  • Durable, I’m not too agile and I’ve clonked this thing a few times and it’s held up.

Dribbling out the front like a 90 year old man

  • Tiny tiny tiny spout makes pouring difficult with anyone with a modicum of impatience.
  • Glass walls on the teapot are a little thin. You have about 20 minutes to finish your teapot before it gets tepid.

Bodum Assam Line 1 teapot, I give thee:

Three out of five STFU mugs!

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2 Comments on "Bodum Assam Line 1 Teapot Review"

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  1. seeyo says:

    I’ve been using those little cast iron asian jobbies, and after watching the Good Eats Tea episode I’ve stopped using the little metal diffuser basket. The argument given on the show was that the loose leaves need a lot more room to steep. As a result you’re better off just leaving them in the pot ( preferrably a pot that doesn’t leach away heat, hence the cast iron ) and straining as you pour.

    My tea ritual:
    – pour a little bit of the boiling water into the pot and swirl it around until you’ve heated the pot.
    – put in the leaves and then the water, and let it steep for about 4 mins.
    – enjoy your caffinated water goodness.

    Best tea you can make if you ask me, you should try it next. Plus the cast iron pot will keep your tea nice and hot while you enjoy your madeline cookies.

  2. cymwyd says:

    The technical term for leaving the leaves in the water is “stewing”. Not only does the tea get super-strong, it gets bitter. My MIL does this. Then she adds more water and lets it cool, then she heats it up in the microwave “not to waste it”. This is why I have a nice china teapot and a tea cozy. It keeps the heat in the pot til I can finish 2-3 cups – which does not take very long, sad to say…

    BTW, you should not brew your tea for more than about 3 minutes. If that is not strong enough, perhaps you should try a different variety. I’m talking real tea, not herbal tisanes 😉