Pengtao Yu – Continuum
“Tea-Time” is a handheld device that can be used to make and drink tea. By introducing a new user-product interaction that is inspired by an hourglass, it makes the tea making and drinking experience both fun and convenient.
Pengtao Yu, Jake Childs, Matt Heller, Continuum Internship Program
Julie Lasky: Put the tea leaves and hot water in the bottom of this tea maker, twist the waist to set the time, and invert when done for a perfect cup of tea. We were impressed by the perfect consonance between form and function in this hourglass-shape product, as well as by the designer's lucid video explanation. This is one student design that seemed primed for an appearance at the MoMA Store. Maria Popova: Beautiful, poetic and unabashedly functional at the same time. A joy to use, and a joy to look at.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
-Ritual but also convenient
Proper tea preparation precess makes the drinker feels like a connoisseur and further improves the tea drinking experience. How to make the preparation process engaging and also convenient is one of the challenges of this project.
-Low tech but also precise
Steeping time is a crucial element to make a perfect cup of tea. Over steeping makes the tea tastes bitter. How to use a low-tech method to precisely control the steeping time is another challenge.
-Traditional but also fun
Tea drinking is a thousand year old activity. How to keep the tradition and meanwhile bring new experience into it is the third challenge of this project.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
Hourglass is a traditional tool that tea connoisseurs use to time the steeping. Inspired by hourglass, “Tea-Time” uses a flipping action to start the timing. Also, just like the sand in an hourglass, the liquid tea drains into the bottom part when the steeping time is up to visually tells the user that the tea is ready. Meanwhile, the liquid tea is separated from the tea leaf. This process not only creates a new interaction between the user and the product but also makes the tea preparation easy and convenient.
Instead of using any electronic device to control the steeping time, “Tea-Time” uses a spring loaded timer to make the whole product remain low-tech and traditional.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Benefit to user:
Be able to easily control the steeping time and conveniently filter the tea leaf.
A new and fun user experience.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
By investigating over 30 tea drinkers, we found out following key insights that informed the final design.
-Appropriate preparation ritual is essential in making the tea drinking experience more enjoyable.
-Loose leaf tea has a better emotional connection with its user than tea bags.
-Usually, people drink tea to get relaxed, yet drink coffee to get energized.
-Over steeping is the major reason that makes people feel the tea is bitter.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
As a natural drink, tea has lots of health benefits. By creating a new preparation and drinking experience, “Tea-Time” will hopefully attract more people to start tea drinking and further live a healthier life.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
I will create a series of cups with different sizes and shapes that fit to the same timer for the user to choose from.