Putting Fellow’s Raven stovetop kettle and tea steeper to the test.
BY JOSH TAVES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Josh Taves
Coffee and tea: These two drinks have gone hand-in-hand throughout history as culture makers, time wasters, and social lubricants. While tea has been often overlooked by baristas, I’ve come to realize that in many ways a well-executed tea program can have more complexity than even coffee can.
While coffee brewing can follow general guidelines of brew ratios, grind sizes, and brewing times, good tea requires much more fine-tuning for each individual type in order to fully express itself. Tea plants can be picked at different ripeness stages, at various points in the harvest cycle, and has the opportunity to be dried, rolled, balled up, blended, oxidized, roasted (in many styles), ground, or crushed—all before it is even exported.
Then you have to consider the age of the plant, its terroir, and the tradition of the growing region. This is while trying to sort out a brewing recipe with water temperatures between 170 degrees Fahrenheit and 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and brew times between 30 seconds and 15 minutes, not to mention leaf rinses or second and third steeps. Got that all mastered? Good, because there’s a whole world of herbal teas that is even more of a Wild West, where anything goes and there are very few wrong answers.
I’ve been diving into the world of tea not only in taste, but in experience as well. I found the perfect piece of gear that expertly melds form and function and allows me to explore myriad brewing parameters for my tea: the Raven Stovetop Kettle and Tea Steeper from Fellow.
The Raven was designed with the discerning tea drinker in mind. It’s a great size for brewing a single cup or making a whole pot to share, as it easily holds one liter of hot water. As the name suggests, the Raven is designed for the stovetop and kills “two birds with one stone”; after you have heated your water to the appropriate temperature, you simply insert the integrated stainless-steel filter with your tea and remove the kettle from heat. The Raven now doubles as your brewer and serving vessel.
Remember the wide range of brewing temperatures I mentioned for tea? The Raven has a thermometer integrated into the durable silicone lid, with brewing zones that suggest optimal temperatures for green/white, oolong, and black/herbal teas. Continue to watch the thermometer to know when your tea has reached the optimum temperature for serving as well.
Fellow sent me the Raven with a polished copper finish ($99), and the first thing that struck me when I opened the box was the aesthetic beauty and the attention to detail. I’m not often a sucker for shiny things, but I will admit that I like seeing this copper kettle sitting on my stovetop every morning. The included filter basket was sturdy enough to feel durable, yet elegant and thin, with a very fine pattern cut into it for filtration. The weighted handle of the Raven provides a nice balance to a full kettle, and the pour spout yields a restrained flow rate that adds to the modern elegance of the entire experience of using the Raven.
I will admit to some skepticism when I first saw the images of the Raven kettle. Being an old curmudgeon who is hard on my gear (did you spy the Raven being used on my camp stove at the top of a 10,000-foot mountain?), I often look sideways at things that seem too pretty. But the Raven won my heart not only for its well-thought-out design and aesthetics, but also because it skirts the fine line between durability and elegance with confidence. I’m happy to have the Raven in my brewing kit and look forward to journeying further into the world of tea in style.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Taves has been working in the coffee industry since 2006 and has worked as a barista, trainer, QC director, profile roaster, and green buyer. You can currently find him (or not find him) roaming the Rocky Mountains wherever the wind takes him. He is also the inventor of the Rattleware Cupping Brewer and a 2017 U.S. Barista Championship finalist.