Ever brew a cup of tea with a smart phone?
A group of innovative engineering students not only wants to change that, they want to make that cup of tea perfectly steeped. Every type of tea. Every cup of tea. Every time.
The Tea Meister is an automatic tea making machine that enables its user to brew perfect tea. Built by Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science’s Innovation Program participants Kyle Bocian, Adam Tischner, Martin Beyl and Stoney Rose, the Tea Meister brings commonplace communications technologies to the ancient art of brewing tea.
The concept behind the Tea Meister is simple and innovative. Using a smart phone, a tea drinker can scan a QR code on a bag of tea; within the code is the data containing the precise water temperature and steeping time for that specific tea. Be it a green tea, English breakfast, chamomile, oolong, whatever, the Tea Meister will transform that data into a cup of tea that is neither too strong nor bitter that has been steeped at a temperature for a time that will provide a consistent cup of tea again and again.
“Our goal,” said Tea Meister team member Martin Beyl, “was to take an existing process and improve it. Make it better. That’s what we were really hoping to achieve with the Tea Meister, to take something… a process—making tea in this instance—and make it more precise, automatic and user friendly.”
“There are so many varieties of loose leaf tea,” Adam Tischner added. “And each has an optimal brewing temperature and time. With loose leaf tea being expensive as it is, it’s really worth it to get a perfect brew every time.”
As is often the case with student innovations supported by the Innovation Program the Tea Meister team not only learned to work together to overcome the trials of project proposals as well as design and engineering complications, they also felt the confidence and freedom to tackle the problems their project presented, to risk failure through various design iterations, and to persevere through the construction of multiple prototypes.
“The Innovation Program has really helped me grow as an engineer,” said team member Stoney Rose. “We were able to take our idea, run with it and see where it would go.”
“And honestly,” Beyl added, “I think we’re all pretty proud of how the Tea Meister works.”
When asked what they thought innovation is, the Tea Meister team agreed that innovation is not often about having new ideas. More frequently innovation involves expanding on existing ideas and technologies, finding novel applications for the tools on hand, looking at problems from unfamiliar angles to see if some unique solution has been overlooked.
As participants of the Spring 2012 round of funded Innovation Program proposals, the Tea Meister team presented the Tea Meister at the Spring 2013 Innovation Program Showcase. The team hopes to receive further funding to continue prototyping and is looking forward to further innovations in their future, and, of course, those perfect cups of tea.