$1,000 tea infuser startup Teforia shuts down

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In what the company is calling “a very difficult time for hardware companies in the smart kitchen space,” Tea infusion device startup Teforia is saying it is ceasing operations today, according to its website.

The above note about it being hard for hardware companies in the smart kitchen is likely a reference to devices like the now-defunct Juicero (which raised more than $100 million in venture financing). Teforia’s main product was an internet-connected tea infuser that could brew the pre-packaged teas from the startup, which it called “Sips.” Users pack the Sips into the company’s “infusion globe,” and those packages cost a couple of bucks each. The price tag was very high, much like some of these other Silicon Valley solutions that look to hit people with more spending power.

“However, the reality of our business is that it would take a lot more financing and time to educate the market and we simply couldn’t raise the funds required in what is a very difficult time for hardware companies in the smart kitchen space,” the company said on its website. “Therefore, it is with heavy hearts that we are announcing that all business operations, for Teforia Company, will cease effective today. We will continue to seek a partner that can leverage Teforia technology and/or provide Sips tea sales to continue our mission of elevating the tea experience. Hopefully, you will see Teforia technology in future products.”

Teforia raised $12 million just about a year ago in a financing round led by Translink Capital, with Upfront Ventures, Lemnos Labs, Correlation Ventures and Mousse Partners also investing in the company. The device was originally priced at $649 when it raised $5.1 million in a seed round led by Upfront Ventures. A little more than a week ago the site listed the device’s price at almost $1,000 (or about the cost of an iPhone X). Users can still purchase the infuser, which now costs $200, as well as a variety of teas, until November 3.

The tea industry is a massive one, and there may have been room for a product at the higher-income bend for tea consumers, especially ones looking for a simpler experience while still looking to brew with loose leaf without having to manage quantities, temperature or time. The whole process of brewing a perfect cup of tea can, indeed, be quite fickle — though the average consumer probably won’t meditate too hard on a 10-degree difference in brew temperature.

“In our mission to deliver the best tea experience, we didn’t compromise on the Teforia Infuser technology, quality or the premium tea packaged within our Sips,” the company said on its website. “The glass within the infusion globe and carafe are hand blown by a glass artisan, one at a time. We spent a tremendous amount of time pioneering our Sips tea container to be 90% compostable and completely recyclable. We went to these extraordinary lengths because we believe premium loose leaf tea should be delivered in the most delicate and sustainable way possible.”

It’s hard not to read into that line a little bit with the whole notion of spending hundreds of dollars simplifying somewhat simple tasks, though by applying technology it’s totally possible that you’d end up with better tea. There are a lot of products beyond just Juicero that want to target this higher-income bracket with smarter or slicker devices that might require some precise measurements and mixtures in the same way that the Keurig originally tried to simplify brewing a single cup of coffee. (The Keurig costs under $100).

We reached out to their press email, which bounced, as well as CEO Allen Han, to triple-check that the startup has shut down according to the open letter posted on the website. Han replied, saying “our thoughts are captured in the message on our website.”