Sage Tea Maker

The Sage Tea Maker (image supplied by Sage)
The Sage Tea Maker (image supplied by Sage)

The great and all-powerful rise of the espresso is confusing to me.

I live in a country which has a cultural obsession with tea, where people will wax lyrical about the restorative properties of a cuppa, where it is a symbol of the unbroken british spirit, a place which worships and adores the every concept of tea.

But also a place where you can go to almost any staffed train station in the country and order a half-fat hazelnut soy latte, but not any grade of tea above that sold thirty years ago. Tea bags were, for stations, the last great revolution for tea making, and everything has stuck since then.

So where we need a revolution, we need a revolutionary, but what we get is Heston Blumenthal.

In my tradition of getting over-priced kettles, I asked for a Sage Tea Maker for my birthday (Or, in this modern age, I put it on my Amazon Wishlist) without expecting anyone to actually get me it. My out-laws surprised me slightly by getting it. So, it is this:

It’s a kettle, foremost. You can select water temperature in bands of five degrees, and it’ll boil to there and stop (An improvement on cheaper variable-temperature kettles – including the iKettle – which will repeat the boil-and-test cycle a few times until it gets the temperature right, resulting in taking longer). A Keep Warm function will keep it at the desired temperature, but in general you boil the water and there is boiling water. Very kettle, much boil.

A Drop-Tower ride
A Drop-Tower ride


There’s a kind of fairground ride which seems to be generically known as a Drop Tower, where the customers are slowly raised up in a cage, and then this is “dropped” down a controlled-fall.

In the tea maker, you put the tea in the cage at the top, attach it to the post (which is done with magnets) looking very like a miniaturized chrome drop-tower, and then you turn on the kettle.

Once the water below is bubbling and churning away, the device switches from fairground ride to Bond Villain Trap, as the tea cage is slowly lowered into the choppy, boiling water, to release its life force into the water around it.

“No, Mr Bond, we expect you to steep for 3-5 minutes in boiling freshly-drawn water”

Once the tea has either escaped with a shiny gadget or been boiled until its goodness has been drawn out, the basket is slowly lifted above the water-line, and the tea is ready (Again, a Warm function will keep it at optimal tea temperature for an hour or so after steeping. You can even tell the machine to occasionally dip the basket back in, if you want it to get increasingly strong).

I can’t control it from bed, but I can set it to wake me up with tea in the morning. It’s not great at making tea for one person, but it’s not as if my array of tiny teapots will form a suicide pact because I own it. Plus, it’s a shiny electronic device that works with magnets, what is there not to like?

Well, there’s Heston Blumenthal, I suppose. Here’s him demonstrating how it works:


How to make an imperfect cup of tea

a) Be told by your AntiRSI program that you should take a ten minute break, right the hell now.

b) Find your mug. Given you work in a 10’ cube office with nobody but you inside it, it will surprise you how difficult this bit is. Clue: You put the iPad on its stand after you had tea this morning, it’s probably behind it.

c) Find keys and teabag.

d) Lock door.

e) Wander the hallways of the business park, searching for boiling water tap (which actually dispenses boiling water, and is awesome) and wonder if the advantages of getting a kettle for the office would be outweighed by the disadvantages of never leaving the 10’ cube.

e) Place teabag in mug, which isn’t the perfect way of doing this, but the teapot still has Lapsang in it and washing it up is beyond the scope of this project.

f) Place boiling water in mug.

g) Wait for five minutes. During this time check twitter, tumblr, facebook, etc. Start writing a tumblr post about how to make an imperfect cup of tea. Get as far as (j) before you realise that you’ve overbrewed the tea.

h) Remove the teabag.

i) Wonder which bright spark managed to use all the damned milk again, hope that this doesn’t reproduce the Time Of The Individual Milk Sachets, which prophecy says will being about the end days.

j) Bugger. Hang on a sec.

k) Add milk to tea to taste.

n) Wander the halls of the business park in the other direction, pondering kettles again, or possibly some kind of minifridge that would partially fix the milk problem.

o) Get back to your desk, discover you’ve got a minute or so left of your enforced keyboard break. Sit back, and enjoy your tea.

p) Wonder what happened to (l & m).

q) Realise that means you didn’t offer the option of sugar or sweetener, which renders the entire set of instructions needlessly specific.

r) Consider the bits about the wandering the halls and the 10’ cube probably render the instructions less general anyway, and decide to leave the missing characters out, happy in the knowledge that it will annoy completists.

u) annoy completists some more.

7) Completely screw up the concept, just to see if it makes a difference.

w) Relax and enjoy your tea.

x) Type a site entry thing.

y) Consider getting to the final letter just for completeness.



My desk

Eventually, I’ve got around to revising my desktop rig, as happens every couple of years. The new machine is called Thundersnow. The key requirements were the three monitor setup and a CPU revision, but the upgrade to 16gb memory and a decent sized SSD was also nice. Full specs at that link.

Annoyingly, I can’t play games across all three monitors, since AMD’s Eyefinity tech refuses to support monitors with different resolutions. Eyefinity 2.0, which was released a couple of months ago, does support that but appears only to work with 7000-series cards, which being the current high-end are over what I was budgeting. Plus, I didn’t even find out about Eyefinity 2.0 until I tried to make the above work properly. Apparently some stuff rom Eyefinity 2 “might” make its way back to older cards, but I’m not holding my breath. Maybe in a few months another upgrade, then. Actually “Refuses to support” is a little strong. If I change the monitors to a common resolution and orientation, it’ll work, but any res that works on the wings looks like stretched-lego on the centre, and I’d rather my games look awesome on the middle monitor than awful across the entire world.

The background across all three is “Ambiguitas” by taenaron on deviantart.

The biggest problem with that image, though, is that it reflects that my teacup is empty. I should fix that now.

food love


This is the second type of tea.

(Shot, Edited and posted using the iPad as an experiement)

Computer Games

Games For Windows Live Undead, Marketplace Edition

“Age of Empires III is available for 10p”
Interesting. That’s probably worthwhile.
“On Games For Windows marketplace”
Ah well. Lets give it a go.
  1. Go to site. “10p or 10 points” Well, I have 200 points, use those.
  2. Sign in to MSN
  3. Enter credit card details. What? Oh. Can’t I use my points?
  4. Fine then. 10p to the Visa. May your transaction fees never be overcome.
  5. Yes. yes. Yes. Yes. Download.
  6. … That’s the games for windows client? Don’t I already have that?
  7. Fine. New version. I agree, I agree, I agree. Launch.
  8. Yes, download that new game.
  9. What? Yes of course install it. Why would I… nevermind. Yes, install it.
  10. What damned product key?
  11. Oh, right, there’s a “Game Keys” option on the panel. Yes, that one. Yes, that one. Copy, Paste.
  12. … I can’t paste it in? I have to type it? But it’s *there* in electronic format! It’s in your own damned client!
  13. Fine. Type.
  14. Correct. Enter.
  15. I agree
  16. I agree.
  17. Yes, first born, whatever.
  18. Play.
  19. No, that’s launching a window of the directory you installed to. I note with interest that’s not the hard drive I’d have prefered.
  20. Play.
  21. … Your play button actually launches the directory window, doesn’t it? Oh well done.
  22. Age3.exe
  23. Ensemble Studios Presents A Microsoft Game Studios Game Of Nvidia: The Way It’s Meant To Be Played
  24. Now my tea’s cold. Woe.

Between me and my tea

The office has no kettle.

Two floors above the office is a kitchen, which will give me free “tea” or hot water, and in the office is a sachet-based “coffee” delivery system which does not deliver hot water on its own. In order to solve this “No Tea” problem, and it is a problem, I have invested in something that could be classed as a mistake.

Freeze dried instant tea.

It looks like a lighter version of instant coffee.

The world, however, is conspiring against me getting any. I have cunningly cut the bottom from a hot-chocolate sachet to trick the machine into giving me hot water, in time to discover that the device has no water. In refilling the coffee machine, the cooler ran out of water. Then the coffee machine refused to boil the water I gave it. Eventually, I had hot water.

Freeze dried instant tea

It’s cooled down a bit now, and I’m not sure how to describe exactly how it tastes. Hmm.

You know when if you leave a cup of generic teabag tea for a little while too long, it starts to generate a kind of earthy taste in the back of your mouth, sort of reminding you of the legends of teabags being made out of the floor sweepings of places where they cut real tea? It tastes like that. All like that. Distiled and coating the back of your throat like a week in the desert.

Time for plan C, then. I suspect plan C involves giving in and switching to coffee while I’m at work. Who needs sleep patterns anyway?