|1.||An infusion tool having: a handle (2); a squeezing head (20), carried by the handle, which provides a squeezing surface; a cage (6) for receiving a bag containing an infusible substance, the cage including a plurality of resiliently deformable elements (22) which extend from points disposed about the periphery of the squeezing surface, the elements being mutually connected at a junction region (23) remote from the squeezing surface; and means (4, 3) for producing relative movement between the cage and the squeezing head to squeeze the bag between the junction region and the squeezing surface in use.|
|2.||An infusion tool according to Claim 1 in which the handle is of elongate shape and both the squeezing head and the cage are provided at one end of the handle.|
|3.||An infusion tool according to Claim 1 in which the resilient elements are of substantially equal length.|
|4.||An infusion tool according to Claim 1 in which the means for producing relative movement includes an inner member which is movable within the handle.|
|5.||An infusion tool according to Claim 4 in which the inner member can be moved relative to the handle by means of a knob at the opposite end of the handle from the squeezing head.|
|6.||An infusion tool according to Claim 4 in which the inner member can be moved relative to the handle by means of a knob which is slidable along a longitudinallyextending slot in the handle.|
|7.||An infusion tool according to Claim 1 in which the squeezing head is fixed with the handle and the resilient elements are connected to the inner member.|
|8.||An infusion tool according to Claim 1 in which the squeezing surface is fixed with the inner member and the resilient elements are connected to the handle.|
TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to a tool for use in the infusion of various substances. The tool is particularly useful in the preparation of beverages formed from infusions of tea, coffee, herbs etc., although it could also be used for making infusions of any infusible substances which can be contained in a porous bag.
When making tea with tea bags for example, people often squeeze and agitate the tea bag by means of a spoon in order to expel the concentrated liquid and obtain a stronger infusion. Some people are also in the habit of squeezing tea bags after use in an attempt to reduce the risk of drips and dribbles as the bags are removed to a waste receptacle.
Numerous tools for squeezing tea bags have been proposed. The- most common forms of tool act like a pair of tongs, but the parts that grip the bag are generally rigid and often have a large surface area. If the tool holds the bag while the contents is infusing it may prevent water from circulating around the bag, but on the other hand, if the tool is not used to hold the bag during infusion it then becomes difficult to grip the bag in
order to remove it from the water.
The present invention seeks to provide a new and inventive form of tool for use with bags of an infusible substance, in which: a) the bag can easily be engaged with the tool; b) the tool enables the infusion process to be controlled such that a good strong infusion may be obtained when required, or a weaker one if the user so wishes; c) the bag is firmly held throughout the process; d) the bag can be effectively squeezed to expel excess liquid when infusion is complete; and e) the user can easily disengage the bag from the tool at the end of the process.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides an infusion tool having:
- a handle;
- a squeezing head, carried by the handle, which provides a squeezing surface;
- a cage for receiving a bag containing an infusible substance, the cage including a plurality of resiliently deformable elements which extend from points disposed about the periphery of the squeezing surface, the elements being mutually connected at a junction region remote from the squeezing surface; and
- means for producing relative movement between the cage and the squeezing head to squeeze the bag between the junction region and the squeezing surface in use.
The arrangement firmly holds the bag whilst at the same time allowing good circulation of liquid. The squeezing head and cage provide very effective squeezing of the bag to expel liquid. In addition, the squeezing head may be used to knead the bag and increase the flow of liquid through the contents during infusion.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The following description and the accompanying drawings referred to therein are included by way of non-limiting example in order to illustrate how the invention may be put into practice. In the drawings:
Figure 1 is a general view of a first infusion tool in accordance with the invention;
Figure 2 is a general view of a second form of the tool;
Figure 3 is a side view of the tool illustrating how it may be used to hold a tea bag;
Figure 4 is a sectional view of part of the infusion tool, being used to infuse a tea bag;
Figure 5 is a general view of a third form of the tool.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Referring firstly to FIg. 1, the first form of infusion tool 1 has a generally elongate cylindrical handle 2 which have a textured circumferential band 7 for improved grip. The handle contains an axially movable plunger 3, which projects from one end of the handle, terminating in an operating knob 4, which may also be formed with an external gripping profile 5. The plunger 3 may be moved axially inside the handle (arrow A) using the knob 4, normally holding the handle 2 in one hand and the knob 4 in the other hand. At the opposite end from the knob 4, the handle 2 is provided with a cage 6 for receiving a tea bag or similar bag-like container filled with an infusible particulate substance, as described below.
The second form of infusion tool 10, which is shown in Fig. 2, also has a generally elongate handle 12, but in this case the handle is designed to be held and operated using one hand. The handle has an enlarged and flattened end 13 to sit comfortably in the palm of the hand, as illustrated in Fig. 3, and may be formed with a recessed area 14 to ensure that the handle is correctly balanced. Again, the handle 12 contains an axially movable plunger 15, but in this case the plunger is contained within the handle and can be moved back and forth by means of a knob 16 (arrow S), which projects laterally through an axial slot 17 in the top side of the handle for operation by the user's thumb. The handle 12 is again provided with a cage 18 at the end remote from the enlarged end 13.
Both forms of tool described above include a squeezing head 20, shown in Fig. 3, which provides a squeezing surface at the end of the handle 2 or 12. The cage 6, 18 is formed by a number of flat strips 22 which project from the handle about the periphery of the squeezing head 20. The strips 22 may be formed of a tough, heat-resistant, resiliently
deformable plastic such as polyamide, or any other suitable material. The strips 22 are of substantially equal length, being connected to a common junction region 23 remote from the squeezing head 20. As shown in the sectional view of Fig. 4, the strips 22 pass through the squeezing head 20 and are joined to the plunger 3 or 15 in any suitable manner, e.g. by insertion into an anchoring element 24 which is secured to the plunger 3 by means of a screw 25, gripping the ends of the strips 22.
In use, an unused tea bag T can be pushed into the cage 6, 18 as shown in Fig. 3. Normally, at this stage the spacing between the strips 22 will prevent the bag from dropping out of the cage, but if desired, the plunger can be moved away from the squeezing head by means of the knob 4 or 16 to tighten the cage around the bag.
The tea bag T can now be inserted into hot water, held within the tool. The cage 6, 18 allows the water to circulate freely around and through the tea bag so that the dried tea leaves contained within the bag infuse through the porous wall of the bag. If a medium to strong beverage is required the infusion process can be assisted by agitating the tool within the water. Furthermore, by moving the tool up and down, as indicated by the arrow C in Fig. 4, the tea bag can be compressed between the squeezing head 20 and the bottom wall W of the cup or other container, thereby "pumping" water through the contents of the bag.
When the infusion process is complete the tool can be used to lift the bag from the water. During this final step the knob 4 or 16 can again be moved away from the squeezing head 20 so that the bag is squeezed between the junction region of the cage 6, 18 and the squeezing surface of the head 20, thereby expelling any surplus liquid from the bag. As a result, the tea bag is largely free from drips and can easily be moved to a
suitable waste receptacle.
The used tea bag is easily released from the tool by moving the operating knob 4, 16 towards the squeezing head 20, causing the cage to expand. The compressed bag will either drop out of the cage or can be removed with the assistance of a slight shaking action.
A number of further modifications which may be made to the forms of tool described above are illustrated in Fig. 5. The handle 2 is similar to that shown in Fig. 1, but in this case the cage 6 is rigidly secured to the end of the handle 2 remote from the operating knob 4. The plunger 3 carries a stem 30 which projects from the handle to carry a circular squeezing head 31. The resilient strips 32 forming the cage 33 pass slidably through apertures 34 arranged circumferentially around the periphery of the head 31. In any of the tools described herein the number of strips forming the cage may vary. For example, six strips are shown in Fig. 5. Normally three, four, five or six strips will provide the best results.
The tool of Fig. 5 is used as described above, except that the knob 4 must be moved in the opposite direction D towards the cage 33 to grip and squeeze the bag. This may be easier to achieve by one-handed operation than with the tool of Fig. 1.
As noted above, the tool can be used in the preparation of any infusion made from a substance contained within a porous bag. A portion of any infusible substance used in the preparation of beverages may be placed in the bag prior to sealing. In general, this will be a plant material such as leaves, petals or beans, which may be used in a divided form as obtained from the plant, dried or roasted. The most common material used in the preparation of infused beverages is derived from the tea plant camellia
sinensis, although other plant materials are sometimes used, including matte, chamomile, mint, vervien, linden, hibiscus, orange blossom, lemon grass, blackberry leaves, skullcap, verbena, comfrey and alfalfa. Ground roasted coffee beans may also be used.
It will be appreciated that the features disclosed herein may be present in any feasible combination. Whilst the above description lays emphasis on those areas which, in combination, are believed to be new, protection is claimed for any inventive combination of the features disclosed herein.
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