Tea Brewers and Dispensers Buyers' Guide
Tea is the hottest selling beverage in the United States, so the ability to brew and dispense tea is an integral part of most foodservice businesses. Tea brewers bring tea leaves to life rapidly and are recommended for preparing tea in large quantities. Tea dispensers work in conjunction with brewers to keep freshly brewed tea ready for serving.
Commercial Tea Brewer
Tea brewers are available in automatic or pour-over varieties. Automatic units need to be plumbed into a water line. You’ll want to make sure that the water that you’re hooking up to is palatable, or your tea won’t be suitable for drinking, either. A filter may help improve the overall taste of your water.
A brewer with an auto-fill option will save on labor, but it may be more expensive to install. Pour-over models require that someone fill the unit with water each time a new batch of tea is made. They can be installed nearly anywhere there is a proper power supply and generally have a slightly lower purchase price. They are also portable for caterers or other mobile users.
Tea brewers have varying brewing rates. For a smaller facility, a unit that brews between 4-1/2 to 7-1/2 gallons per hour may be sufficient. A higher-volume establishment, however, may need one that brews between 16 and 36 gallons of tea per hour.
Many have digital controls that will provide a cold brew lock-out and a half-fill option. A cold brew lock out feature will prevent brewing before the water has heated to the proper brewing temperature. A half-fill option will allow you to brew a smaller batch during slower times. Some of these brewers will even have the capability of housing sweetener that can be added automatically to each batch to make sweet tea. Many models offer recipe buttons for simple training and operation for areas with high employee turn-over rates. Brewers offering rotating brew baskets help agitate the tea leaves for more even extraction.
Tea dispensers range in capacity from smaller, 1 to 5 gallon units to those that will hold up to 10 gallons. They may be cylindrical, round, narrow oval, square, or rectangular. Round versions may be slightly easier to clean, while the angled versions will maximize their space a bit better They are constructed from stainless steel or plastic. The stainless steel versions are easy to clean and less prone to staining, while plastic versions are lightweight and are slightly more portable.
A tea dispenser will usually have plastic valves, and some have dual reservoirs. This will allow you to dispense more than one variety of tea, such as sweetened and unsweetened, with one piece of equipment. Dispensers with handles make cleaning and replenishing much easier. Often plastic bases will keep the dispenser in place will brewing and during service. You may wish to consider a dispenser that has sight glass, so you’ll easily know when it’s time to replenish.
Dispensers that Brew
There are dispensers that brew as well as hold tea. This tea brewing equipment can brew up to 36 gallons of tea per hour. For a brewing dispenser, you’ll want to make sure you choose a dispenser that has a brew-through lid in order to keep contaminants out of your tea. Often, these dispensers are interchangeable, so you may choose to replace a broken or smaller dispenser with a new or larger model without having to replace the brewer as well.