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Teforia Infuser review:

Even the ultra-rich shouldn't buy this super-pricey teapot

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The Good The Teforia Infuser brews tea automatically and without much mess to clean up. It talks to a companion mobile app to learn what type of tea it's making and save recipes for later. It has a distinctive design and is fun to watch brewing.

The Bad The Infuser is astronomically expensive. The tea it brews isn't exceptional. It also offers less control over brewing conditions than competing products. The use of plastic in its design is a letdown considering its price.

The Bottom Line Those craving artisan cups of tea should learn how to brew it themselves rather than splurge on the outlandishly expensive Teforia Infuser.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.1 Overall
  • Performance 7.5
  • Design 7.5
  • Features 5.0
  • Maintenance 8.0

Even if you're a tea fanatic, it's hard to justify the outrageous price tag of the almost $1,500 Teforia Infuser. Sure, the machine packs plenty of high-tech capabilities and hardware including both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth plus a mobile companion app. The Teforia is completely automated, and even scans RFID tags on its tea packs for precise brewing directions.

Still, while this opulent kitchen appliance does consistently create good cups of tea, simpler gadgets handle the job just as well and with more finesse and flexibility. Worse, they cost a fraction of the price, with even the premium $219 Breville One-Touch Tea Maker and Espro P5 ($78 with tea filter) coming in far below the Teforia's monumental expense. All that adds up to a foolhardy proposition, and one you should pass up unless you get money for nothing or grow it on trees.

Design

I can't deny it, the Teforia Infuser is a pretty appliance. Measuring 13 inches tall by 8.3 inches wide and reaching back 12.3 inches deep, the machine is about the size of your average coffee maker. Its shape is blocklike as well, but that's where the resemblance ends. On the Teforia's face is a sphere, clear save for white sections on its top and bottom, that serves as a steeping chamber for tea leaves.

The Teforia Infuser has a blocky shape like a regular coffee maker but its front face says it's anything but.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The small sphere, called "the infusion globe," is held in place by two arms -- one above and one below. Under the lower arm sits a slim carafe for collecting brewed tea. The majority of its body is transparent, too, and the carafe's mouth slides neatly into a slot within this arm. There it hangs suspended in air above the bottom of the machine.

I do like this visual effect, and with a chassis constructed of smooth, white plastic and sculpted in gentle curves, the Infuser is attractive enough. The surfaces of the gadget are also easy to clean, especially with the included black microfiber cloth.

But still -- plastic? If I were unaware of the Teforia's atmospheric price I would never guess the appliance was so expensive. For instance, the Ratio Eight luxury coffee makers ($495 to $595) look and feel a great deal more impressive. They're also hand-built in Portland, Oregon, using posh materials such as wood, nickel and steel. Even the steel and glass frame of the $250 Breville One-Touch is more alluring. Sorry, but at this price, plastic doesn't cut it.

The tea brewing process

Brewing tea with the Teforia Infuser is an odd experience. First of all, the machine has no physical buttons or controls of any kind, and no screen for displaying info. Instead, cryptic symbols appear on the front face of the Infuser to indicate its status, such as a bubbling globe icon when it's brewing and a carafe when your tea is ready.

These symbols are formed by light shining through the Teforia's smooth plastic surface. As a result they appear faint and a bit blurry, unlike the clarity of traditional LED lights and LCD screens.

The water tank lives in back of the machine.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Before you make tea, you'll first fill the water tank (68 to 70 ounces) in the back of the appliance. It's sturdy and has a metal handle for easy transport. The reservoir is equipped with a water filter, but not a maximum fill line, strangely enough.

Status icons on the Teforia are tricky to read.

Chris Monroe/CNET

To use one of the Teforia SIPS (Selective Infusion Profile System) tea packs, just tap its paper label against the RFID reader on the top of the machine. This action theoretically tells the Infuser details about the tea it's about to brew and how to brew it. Next, peel off the pack label, pour its contents into the globe and confirm that the globe and carafe are locked in place. Lastly, hit the circular light on the Teforia's base to begin tea infusion.

Tap the tea pack labels on the Teforia's RFID scanner.

Chris Monroe/CNET

You can also use the infuser to brew tea that isn't in SIPS packs, though you need to use the mobile app to do so (it's available on iOS and soon for Android). The app asks about the tea you'd like to prepare and sets up a custom brewing profile.

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