Steeping Tea Perfectly With An Arduino

While most of us here at Hack a Day can’t live without our daily java, we do understand and respect the tea drinking hackers out there, like [Brian McEvoy] the 24 Hour Engineer. Like any self-respecting hacker, [Brian] seeks to improve the efficiency of day-to-day tasks in order to spend his time on things that really matter — so he decided to automate his tea cup.

He’s 3D printed a small tea-bagging mechanism that a little RC servo motor can actuate, which allows him to control the amount of time a tea bag spends steeping in his mug. Another 3D printed enclosure includes the Arduino, a few buttons, and an LCD screen to allow you to select the steeping time for your favorite herb. In fact, the majority of this project is 3D printed which means the majority of the cost comes from the minimal electronics required — stuff you probably already have lying around. He’s also included all the design files you need in order to make your own.

The project has been in process for a while, but he’s finally finished it off, and it works great. If you’re hungry for some of the nitty-gritty build logs and troubleshooting a long the way, he’s got a whole bunch of blog posts from throughout the process.

It’s pretty similar in function to this automated tea maker we shared earlier this year, but we love how they took completely different approaches to solving the problem of a perfectly timed steep. Mind you, they both used an Arduino — but can you really blame them?

32 thoughts on “Steeping Tea Perfectly With An Arduino

  1. Since when was an Arduino, LCD screen and servo considered minimal electronics for an open loop, two state system? The same thing could be accomplished with 2 timers (NE556) and a potentiometer to control the time delay.

    1. As you can see from the video, the benefit of using a microcontroller and LCD is that he is able to have multiple profiles for different types of tea. Each profile has a different steep time that is adjustable. Let’s see you do that with 2 timers and a potentiometer. For only slightly more money than a timer, a microcontroller adds much greater flexibility to a project. With a simple firmware update you can completely change the functionality.

      1. I’d like to see this implemented both ways. The microcontroller project is a good reason to learn microcontrollers. For those that don’t have experience with a 556 chip it would be a learning experience. And this can be done. You put a piece of paper around the collar of the trimpot and put a mark for each tea-profile.

    1. In the final analysis, the purpose has nothing to do with “saving time”. It’s to indulge in tinkering and learning, wrapped around some physical device or programming concept applied to some mundane operation that won’t be compromised in the meantime (or if it all goes horribly wrong).

      If you get a digital screen and hot tea at the end, so much the better.

      1. As an occasional tea drinker, my main problem is that I put the tea bag in the hot water, then forget about it. 20 minutes later the tea is lukewarm and quite bitter.

        While this problem could arguably be fixed by a timer app on my phone or something, I do appreciate [Brian McEvoy]’s solution

      2. I am a lazy tea drinker. I make a big container of concentrated tea at a time. Dilute the tea with water, reheat in microwave for a set time. This way the tea comes out the same way from the batch and have no timings related accidents.

    2. So according to that chart, this is well worth doing… I certainly have more than one cup of tea per day. So because I will save three or four minutes each time that means I can spend somewhere between a day and four weeks implementing the solution. Excellent work, Brian.

    3. That comic isn’t really relevant is it? Dip your bag in it manually or by a machine, it’s going to take the same mount of time, to make the tea File this under things that you build, just because you can. simply entertainment to build and use.

      1. The relevant part is how long it takes you to built it, the time savings of that task vs the time it took to implement that task automating device.

        If you save 10 minutes a year but it took you two weeks to build it, you didn’t save any time.

      2. Back in the days of undergrad computer science, the most productive time for me was in front of the snack machine away from the terminal. My mind worked on the problem in the background during he physical break would sometime help getting me pass a mental block or thing I missed.

        So even if I physically saved time, I might have less productivity.

  2. A few months ago I made a similar gadget using Lego Technic that dipped a teabag, no ArduiPiBone was needed. I used a Technic cam on the geared-down M-size motor to jiggle the tebag arm every few seconds.

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