Tea dispensers and urns will hold and serve prepared tea. While dispensers tend to be more commercial looking and urns are usually more decorative, that rule does not always hold true. Whether you're looking to provide a self-service option or back of the house applications, there are plenty of dispensers and urns to suit your needs.
For lower-volume needs, you may want to choose a dispenser or urn ranging in capacity from 1- 4 gallons. Higher volume operations may require a dispenser that will hold from 5-10 gallons of tea. Depending on the size of the dispenser you choose, you may want one with more than one faucet. You might even choose to purchase more than one so you can offer sweetened and unsweetened varieties.
A tea dispenser can stand alone, or it can work in conjunction with a brewer. Many of them are portable, so they can easily slide under an existing brewer. A tea urn can be either decorative or utilitarian. Some of the urns will also serve as brewers, as well.
Dispensers come in a variety of shapes, with cylindrical being the most prevalent. Oval and narrow oval dispensers offer similar capacity, but may reduce the footprint on your counter top. Because they maximize the space they use, rectangular and square models may work best in some locations, while rounded versions tend to be easier to clean.
Many of these tea dispensers are made of stainless steel, making them corrosion-resistant, easy to clean, and durable. They will typically have plastic lids, bases, and faucets. Some portable units have all-plastic construction, making them lightweight for catering or concessions. Many decorative urns will have chrome or gold-toned accents. Their exteriors make them ideal for banquets and catered events, and tend to be more ornate than those used in the back of house.
Certain urns will have a fuel pot underneath to keep the contents warm, while some may use electricity. Many of the urns and dispensers will have a brew view gauge, making it easy to determine how much product remains inside. Tea dispensers with brew-through lids master efficiency and minimize the amount of equipment eating up valuable countertop space because you won't need the space for a brewer and a separate serving vessel.
Tea that is over-steeped will develop a bitter taste; because an urn just keeps the tea warm without boiling, the tea will maintain most of its integrity. When using urns or dispensers, you'll want to store either prepared tea or plain water in the unit, as the urns won't keep water hot enough to actually brew the tea. Prepared tea can be sweetened before placing it inside the dispenser or it can be sweetened once it's inside, if desired. If you're hoping to offer hot tea, you could make an attractive display with a decorative urn and loose tea or tea bags, creamers, and sweeteners.