Russell Hobbs became my new best friend last spring when my husband, Chris, bought me the "tea tray" set for my birthday. Chris, who is always on the lookout for a new tea gadget saw this as being my new necessity - and he was so right. (It's wonderful when you are married to your own R & D Department).
Now, in my extensive research (i.e., Wikipedia), I found that Russell Hobbs, was, in fact, comprised of two different people: William Russell and Peter Hobbs. Both natives of England, they combined their talents to bring us the first electric percolator in 1952.
Previously working for the same small appliance company, they launched their own business which subsequently made other innovative products including electric kettles, food processors and microwaves. Reportedly, Russel's unorthodox method of safety testing for any new product was to pour half a pint of boiling gravy on it. (I find this bit of information both alarms me and makes me hungry.)
But, back to our purpose here. The Russell Hobbs kettle/carafe set is a convenient way to brew your loose tea. For those of you who already own an electric tea kettle, you know the speed is a "perk" you enjoy. But, this set also features a tea pot with a removable tea infuser. Just put your tea leaves in the elongated mesh basket, pour your quickly-heated hot water into the carafe and you are ready to brew. After you've steeped the leaves according to taste, remove the infuser and then flip the small button below. This sets of the warming plate below the carafe so your tea stays warm until you're ready to pour the next round.
There are a few minor negatives, however. The tea infuser's plastic handle is a bit flimsy and falls off occasionally. And, unlike a tea cozy, which is more aesthetically pleasing, and offers you warming capabilities wherever you are, with the Russell Hobbs you're confined to the kitchen counter and as far as your plug will reach.
Otherwise, this is a 2009 must have. I see they are going on sale at Macy's this week. Purchase now and you'll be ready to serve tea to your Thanksgiving guests. . . but, I recommend leaving the gravy in the serving dish.
Yours in tea and friendship,