Not all online shopping sites are created equal. Some of them are, in fact, downright uncommon. UncommonGoods is a market place for unique and beautiful items that won’t break the bank. Founded in 1999 by Dave Bolotsky, it offers high quality, sustainable, exceptional, and affordable products from small business and independent artists while giving back to the community and improving working conditions. Sound like a lot? It is.
Uncommon Goods is a founder and member of B Corporation. According to Bcorporation.net: “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” Shop without guilt, friends.
They believe in producing and selling products that have the smallest impact possible on the environment. They do this by choosing not to use certain animal products (fur, feathers, or leather), by limiting the number of catalogues they send out and by using only recycled paper or paper sourced from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Company operations are run from the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, the former Brooklyn Army Base which has been revamped as an industrial warehouse and commercial complex.
Other things we dig about Uncommon Goods:
– They offer full benefits to all of their full-time employees as well as some of their part-time employees, and their lowest paid workers (seasonal) still make 50% above minimum wage.
– They offer “How to Make It” events in which they team up with local designers, business owners, and artists to help other people in the industry improve their business.
– Their Better to Give program which allows customers to donate $1 to the non-profit of your choice. Currently their non-profits are RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), American Forests, Women for Women International which “provides women survivors of war with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency”, and Reach Out and Read which allows doctors and nurses nationwide to give out free books to help promote early literacy.
Therefore, we were more than delighted to review these products, which we thought our particular audience would enjoy.
This item is really reasonably priced considering its dual purpose, especially since it was very difficult to find something similar that boasted both functions. Most water infusers run $15-$20 and most tea infusers are in the same price range, but you would have to buy both to get what you get in the Tea To Go at $35. Not to mention, most other infusers are not made with glass which can withstand the heat of the boiling water.
The quality of the packaging actually kept me from opening it for a couple days, as ridiculous as that sounds. It’s a cardboard cylinder that is two-toned (black top, white bottom) and looks like the top should come right off. Well, mine didn’t, and since I knew the infuser was glass I just used a box opener to cut around what I thought was the seal. So, shipping would not be something I would worry about, and with that crisis handled I FINALLY got to try it out. There was a small card insert with very easy to use instructions inside.
It’s made of pretty thick glass that doesn’t feel breakable and is contoured to fit nicely in your hand. There’s also the rubber grip in the middle, and the top and bottom are also slightly rubberized so they are easier to grip and twist as well. There are rubber gaskets in each cap so they don’t leak. Just make sure you don’t misplace them or accidentally wash them down the sink.
Once, I decided on which tea I wanted to try first, I loaded up the shallower side with the leaves and covered the other side. Upon pouring in the hot water, I noticed that the glass strainer inside did clog a little bit. I realized with some trial and error that tilting the bottle slightly helps the water to pass through without the leaves plugging the opening from the pressure. To make things go a little quicker, I flipped it over and filled it from the larger side. The second thing I noticed is that some leaf particles get in either way, which I wasn’t expecting, but it wasn’t like drinking a salad or anything. The third thing I noticed was that the bottle does get pretty hot even with the rubber grip. It’s still manageable to handle but can get pretty warm. The fourth, and I consider this the most important thing, is that the tea stayed hot for a solid hour and a half. I l had to take small sips or blow on it before I could drink it. I’m sure if I had left the cap off it would have cooled much faster, but you can rest assured that you will not be drinking cold tea unless it’s on purpose.
The next thing I tried was infusing the water with some strawberries and basil. It was delicious. You don’t have to cut the fruit up too small because even the shallow end is big enough to hold a whole slice of cucumber. I would definitely suggest not over filling it or leaving the slices too large, as it will clog up the strainer. I did wait about 10 minutes with the lid off before adding ice to the hot water. There was no sign of cracking from the heat change in the glass.
Finally, it was a breeze to clean. Everything rinsed right off. The only thing that I could see being a problem would be the holes in the strainer. Although I only encountered one little leaf that needed to be pushed out with a toothpick I can see how you would want to get a scrubbing brush with longer bristles to clean that out. There’s something very refreshing about carrying around your own infused water in an adorable container. Like, maybe I’m going to yoga, maybe I’m not, but I could, and I look put together.
This is the perfect gift for the tea lover in your life. They can have the comfort of hot (emphasis on hot) tea during the chilly months or cold nights and the refreshing flavors of infused water when the weather is warm. You can also get it in four different colors (black, green, orange, and berry) that you can check out on the UncommonGoods Tea to Go page.
This is on the low end of the price range at $36. You get the mason jar, the CoffeeSock, The Cuppow (a plastic lid insert to turn the lid into a sipper), and two small bags of coffee (I used one bag for each cold brew). The CoffeeSock alone is around $13 for the size and style. That’s a whole lot of stuff for $36 and totally worth it.
The mason jar (glass) was wrapped in bubble wrap and then placed in a bubble wrap filled box. All of the pieces were inside of the mason jar. Even the instructions were printed on the back of the label, which could be a problem if you tear into it all willy-nilly like I did. But there are also instructions on the website, so really it was just one less thing for me to have to save. Simple, clean, effective.
I found the quality to be great. The 64 oz. glass jar always makes me nervous because I’m clumsy and it’s made of glass, but it’s also really easy to clean and honestly I love looking at it. There’s something very Little House on the Prairie about it. Timeless. Even with the CoffeeSock in it, it still looks nice.
The Cuppow lid that turns the jar lid into a travel sipper is awesome, except that I’m almost positive that the jar won’t fit in my cup holder. Oh, well. Giant at-home coffee it is then.
The CoffeeSock worked well. It’s made of 100% cotton, made in Texas, and it’s a style of filter that originates from Costa Rica for brewing hot or cold coffee. It replaces your coffee filter. They come in all different sizes to suit your coffee maker or technique. With proper care they last anywhere from nine months to a full year, and they come in two packs, so we’re talking $13 for two years of filter. Done and done.
As for the flavor of the actual cold brew, I’m surprised to say that I loved it. I’m a hot coffee kind of gal, even on an 80 degree day. I was skeptical about the whole cold brew process which is actually very simple. You fill your CoffeeSock with medium/coarse ground coffee, letting it sit damp for a minute, then tie off the top, drop it in the jar, fill up with cold water, and set it in the fridge for 12- 16 hours. After that, you remove the sock, empty and wash it, then hang it to dry. Granted, this is not the fastest way to prepare coffee, but the end result is smooth, delicious cold coffee. The flavor is rich, but not bitter, smooth but not watered down – which is what I was worried about. My husband only likes cold coffee, and he said that it is the best he’s ever tasted, which is saying a lot for him. I may have just become a cold brew convert.
This would be a wonderful house warming or hostess gift. Or get one for yourself so you can enjoy cold brewed coffee whenever you want. They come in 32 oz. (for the practical) and 64 oz. (for the coffee lovers). You can check them out here on their UncommonGoods Coffee Cold Brew Gift Set page.