Tovolo TeaGo Tea Press Review

I have lots to share about the Specialty Tea Institute class I took over a week ago, but I had to sneak this in while my disappointment was still fresh.

Is that a TeaGo in your pocket or--never mind.

From left: cup, barrel, plunger with lid

The TeaGo purports to be a full-bodied tea syringe.  Ostensibly, you put some loose-leaf tea into the barrel and then dunk it into a mug of hot water, hanging the attached clip over the rim of the mug.  Maybe you are intended to put the plunger in the barrel, and draw it upwards once immersed, thereby circulating the leaves in the bath the suction has created inside the barrel.  When you’re finished infusing, you push the plunger (always fun and suggestive), squeezing out most of the remaining moisture through but holding the leaves within the perforated screen, and attach the cup onto the end of the whole apparatus, which catches remaining drips.  Only now should I mention that the plunger itself is hollow, with a screw-top lid, inside which you can safely store your dry leaf.

The TeaGo seems to congratulate itself for fitting all its functionalities in such a small space, but as a result, it badly needs an instructional video at its point of purchase.  I bought it mostly because I didn’t understand it.  It reminds me of the first Mission: Impossible movie: even after you understand its secrets, it convinces you that it still holds something beyond your ken, by means of artless presentation.  Perhaps it’s a poor Italian translation.  I mean a poor Italian translation.

The gasket on the plunger doesn’t form a tight seal, because it’s insubstantial, and the inside of the barrel is tapered.  So you’re not getting any suction.  Plus the screen drains quickly, so the entire “plunger functionality” is rendered moot.  What you’re left with is a small capacity clip-in infuser, that also holds some dry tea.  The inside diameter of the barrel is about 15/16″, which means you can store 6 teaspoons of dry tea, notwithstanding bold-style leaves that won’t fit, and you have about 2.25 teaspoons (.375 fl oz) of infusion room per inch of submersion, of which the maximum is 5.  In addition, the hang-in-and-stick-up design means you can’t put a cover on your mug, so you’re going to lose more heat during brewing.

I can’t imagine who is going to find this product useful.  If you’re going away for a while, you’re going to bring something that works properly with more capacity.  If you’re going to be back soon, or don’t care as much about quality, then you’re going to use something that’s simpler.  A large teaball would do better with a smaller footprint and at a fraction of the price.  The same goes for disposable filters.  Or you could prepare your tea sumptuously at home, and bring just as much in a vacuum flask.  Don’t be fooled into buying this thing by the mid-’90s iMac design: it doesn’t suck, and it sucks.

5 Responses to “Tovolo TeaGo Tea Press Review”


  1. 1 Rick Draper February 8, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    So what will you do with this Teago now that you’ve bought it?

    • 2 plucktea February 9, 2010 at 11:51 AM

      Wipe off the fingerprints and try to send it back…?

      • 3 Rubina January 1, 2011 at 8:03 PM

        Thanks for your helpful review!
        Unfortunately I received one for Christmas this year. I was going to get rid of it on Craigslist, but I think I’ll just force myself to use it at work. I’ll make a point of using loose leaf tea instead of my usual tea bags, and bring the tea leaves home to compost.
        I figure that after a few years (or so…) the fact that I’m no longer throwing my tea bags in the garbage at work might make up (environmentally speaking) for all the excessive packaging that this thing came in!!

  2. 4 Julea Gardner January 29, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    And nobody mentions this additional irritation: the fact that once you’ve pushed down on the plunger to get the water out, it’s nearly impossible to get the compacted leaves out of the strainer. I’ve used tiny implements, I’ve soaked it in water, and my 10-year-old has banged it ’til it’s bent, to no avail. Those teeny particles are stubborn!


  1. 1 Tweets that mention Tovolo TeaGo Tea Press Review « Pluck Tea -- Topsy.com Trackback on February 9, 2010 at 2:31 AM

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