Hi, friends! Happy New Year! It's been a while (hooray busy college semesters), so I'm happy to be back and posting again. For 2023 you can expect more content- I've made it a goal to have one post a month, minimum.
For today's post, I'm reviewing the ChuFunYu ECLIPSE tea brewing set. As a disclaimer, Vinci from ChuFunYu reached out to me and very kindly offered to send me the ECLIPSE tea set to try for review, without compensation. Having long admired the look of the ECLIPSE, I happily accepted. I've been using the set for about a month now and have formed these final thoughts. So, without further ado, let's get into this review!
The ECLIPSE tea set is offered in a matte black finish ("Midnight Black") or a matte white finish ("Jasmine White") from ChuFunYu at a retail price of $144.00, but is currently on sale for $129 (as of January 7, 2023).
The brewer itself is a double-walled, pure ceramic interior for brewing, meaning the tea itself remains untainted by plastic or metal and stays warm quite well. It holds about 12 fluid ounces of tea inside. It works similar to a French press, with different seals keeping the brewed tea separate from the leaves, as well as stopping brewing, allowing for multiple infusions. The brewer is comprised of different parts (labeled below): 1.) a ceramic brew chamber, 2.) the leaf chamber, 3.) the main lip of the chamber/lid base, 4.) the splash guard and etched finer filter, 5.) the plunger/infusion mechanism, 6.) the snug fitting magnetic cap to keep the NECTAR cup secure (and also acts as a coaster), 7.) the measuring cup/main lid to the brewer, and 8.) the NECTAR cup, which fits snugly into the measuring cup.
To use the ECLIPSE, measure out between 4-7g of leaf in the measuring cap, then pour the leaves into the bottom of the ECLIPSE. Pour in your hot water, then screw the lid on, making sure the plunger is fully at the top (so the seal is at the bottom of the lid). After your desired brewing time has passed, slowly press the plunger down all the way. Once pressed all the way down, the brewing mechanism keeps the leaves sealed in that bottom chamber, filling the rest of the main ceramic brew chamber with the tea, which bubbles through the splash guard/filter in a manner reminiscent of an eclipse, hence the name. Simply pour the tea out into the cup or drink straight from the brewer when desired. To re-steep, carefully remove the lid with the plunger (some hot tea can remain on the plunger and could possibly splash up as you do this) and pour in more hot water, then repeat the process until you're finished with the tea.
To ensure a fair review, I have tested this with white tea, oolong, black tea, heicha, and puerh. I found that with oolong and white teas, the later steeps tended to be over-brewed slightly; while still perfectly tasty and drinkable, it was noticeable that the tea had oversteeped.
With black teas, sheng puerh, shou puerh, and heicha, I didn't notice much overbrewing. It seems like the seal on the plunger is fairly effective, though not 100%. I emailed ChuFunYu and their customer service was quite prompt and helpful, stating that they're currently working on a solution to this. Their exact explanation was this: "the plunger with its silicone ring is available to form a seal to stop water leaking to the bottom chamber when the plunger is pressed down to the bottom, but it cannot stop the leaking 100% fully as you said. We usually would recommend dosing 4-7 g of the tea leaves into the chamber as the fullness of the leaves in the bottom chamber should avoid less water leaking into the bottom chamber. However, we also noticed that the final cup of each steep became a little bit over-steeped, which we think is because of the expansion of the leaves and also the pressure of the water decreases that makes the plunger lift up a little, then it makes the water from the bottom leak into the barrel chamber. We are looking for the best solution as well; in the meantime, we hope that the above helps solve your concerns."
To me, this shows that they're a solid company- the fast response and the fact that they're actively seeking solutions to this shows that they're a company I can trust.
The other thing that I noticed is that while the ECLIPSE is double-walled, the main brew chamber is vacuum-insulated. When asked, ChuFunYu had this to say about that as well: "The main barrel is vacuum insulated. The lack of heat retention is due to the bottom part being a separate piece."
To test the overall insulation of the ECLIPSE, I used 4g of yabao white tea and water at 195°F. I checked the temperatures over a period of a few hours to check; at start, the tea was at 175°F after steeping. I checked again after a half hour with the lid screwed on, leaving the ECLIPSE in a room temperature environment, and the temperature was 159°F. After 1 hour (60 mins), the temperature was 145°F. At 1 and a half hours (90 minutes), the temperature of the tea was 126°F. At 2 hours, the final check, the temperature read 110°F. The color was noticeably darker each steep- understandably so, as the seal isn't 100% able to keep the leaves from the water and I'm fairly confident that in normal use (which is what I usually do) it's not as noticeable. This was noticeable enough in color but not too much in the flavor until that final temperature check- in which it was noticeably more bitter, but granted, I pushed it to its limits for heat retention, not "steepability" (as steeping *any* tea for 2 hours will have the same results). The image below shows the difference in color with each temperature test.
One amazing thing about the insulation is that despite having near-boiling water inside, the ECLIPSE brewer never felt warmer than room temperature on the sides, meaning I didn't have to worry about grabbing it and burning my hands. The matte coating plus the double-walled insulation keeps the tea inside fairly hot while providing a nice barrier to your hands, avoiding burns. Additionally, the splash guard works well at keeping unwanted tea spills at bay while driving or sipping from the brewer itself.
Pros: It's beautifully designed, plus the matte finish is spectacular; the NECTAR cup fitting in the lid is honestly so cool and handy, plus it's incredibly easy to use and the fact that it comes apart completely makes it easy to clean; the ceramic-lined brewing chamber doesn't absorb any odors and is easily cleaned, as well as being durable; and there were no leaks detected.
Cons: The sealing mechanism works well but you *must* make sure that the plunger is fully pressed down or you risk oversteeping.
Overall, this is the best portable tea brewer I've ever used. It feels lightweight in the hand and the matte black finish is quite pleasant to the touch. It manages to feel lightweight while also feeling extremely durable. It's easy to use and the design is extremely clever- storing the tea cup in the lid and having the lid serve as a 10ml measuring cup is honestly spectacular. The magnetic cap for the lid holds up quite well, and as it's not the main lid, it keeps you worry-free from spills. To be quite honest, it's a tank of a brewer- durable, long lasting, yet a gorgeously sleek design. The fact that it's completely dissassemblable means easy cleaning and access to the mechanism, so no worries of leaving tea stains in there or spots that can't be cleaned. Plus, the ceramic is easy to clean as well. It's overall just a brilliantly designed tool for tea lovers everywhere and I would recommend it if you're looking for something to take on commutes or to work with you, as it works quite well and allows you the freedom to drink good tea anywhere you desire.