Bring water to a boil, add tea leaves, infuse and strain. Every cup starts with a proper steeping. And for steeping, you will need tea brewing accessories. Tea infusers may have many advantages over some other brewing accessories and vessels, especially if you are in a rush to make tea, want to prepare a cup in the office, or even on camping. And they make a perfect little tea gift too. Find out what are tea infusers and read about different types.
What is a tea infuser?
Tea infuser is a tea brewing utensil. It can come in different shapes, styles, sizes, colors and materials and it’s made to make brewing tea easy and simple. Before tea became popular in the western countries, tea infusers were quite simple, with only a few types available. In fact, teapots and strainers were a more likely choice for making a cup of tea.
Best Loose Leaf Tea Infusers
There are many types of tea infusers – from tea ball infusers and spoon infusers, infusing baskets and teapots and even kettles with a build-in, often removable, infusers. They all have the same goal – to make tea brewing easy and give you the best possible cup of tea.
Tea ball infuser
Tea ball infusers are very likely the first infuser a tea beginner will buy for making a cup of tea. They often have a small hook that you can attach to the cup. Tea ball infusers are usually made from stainless steel. They are great for brewing fruit teas, many herbal teas and black tea. However, don’t use them with tea leaves that will expand, such as ball-shaped oolong tea or teas with big unbroken leaves such as Shou Mei white tea. Tea ball infusers are very affordable and may come in handy for traveling too.
Tea spoon infusers
Spoon infusers are very similar to tea ball infusers. However, they can sometimes be a bit smaller. Tea spoon infusers are perfect for fruit teas and many herbal teas. Another great, easy to use, option are tea infusing tongs, that look similar to a tea spoon infuser but have a ball shaped filter. Always buy tea spoon infusers made from stainless steel. If you see any rust, stop using it immediately.
Tea baskets are small infusing baskets that you can simply fill with tea leaves, insert into a cup, and remove once the tea is ready. They are very easy to use and clean, make less mess than tea ball and spoon infusers, and you can use them even for tea leaves that need more space to expand. Tea baskets can be made from plastic or stainless steel.
Silicone tea infusers
The biggest difference between a silicone tea infusers and tea ball infusers is not only the material, it’s the shape too. Silicone infusers come in many shapes, from sharks to elephants, hearts and boats. They are heat resistant and can be used with boiling water too. Furthermore, they are great for fun tea parties or as gifts. Use them for fruity teas, herbal teas, green teas or black teas.
Test tube infusers
Test tube infusers are the least common type of tea infusers. They are the least convenient to use too, but make tea brewing very pretty. Test tube infusers are made from glass and have a wooden or a plastic lid. They are perfect for brewing visually appealing teas, such as floral teas or blends with flowers.
Infusing mugs are a perfect piece of teaware for any teaware collection. They are easy to use, often come with a lid and have a removable mesh or glass infuser. They can be used with almost any type of tea. Tea mugs with glass infusers may even be suitable for very small broken tea leaves or herbal teas such as rooibos. They are big enough to allow tea leaves to expand. Lid, on the other hand, will help retain the water temperature, similar to teapots.
Infusing bottles are very similar to infusing mugs, but with one big advantage. You can take them with you anywhere you go, and brew tea even on camping. They will usually have a removable infuser and are great for cold-brewing or sun-brewing too. Infusers in infuser bottles are usually big enough to have enough space for tea leaves to expand so you can use them for brewing any type of tea.
Although the purpose of all teapots is to make brewing tea easy and offer the best possible flavor, some may be more suitable for tea beginners or even make brewing very easy. Teapots with removable infusers are easy to use. For example, Japanese kyusu teapot can have a build in strainer or a removable strainer. Furthermore, while you should never wash your expensive teapot in a dishwasher, stainless steel strainer is dishwasher-safe. These teapots are great for making almost any type of loose leaf tea.
Today, kettles with a removable infuser are available too, so you can use them not only for boiling the water, but for brewing tea too. Don’t use them with very delicate tea leaves. They are the best for herbal, black and fruity teas. The other disadvantage of infusing tea leaves directly in a kettle is that strong and highly flavored teas may leave a scent or a residue that will be difficult to clean. Infusing kettles can be very expensive, especially if they have an option for controlling the water temperature. They are great for those tea lovers that always prefer to drink the same type of tea without much experimenting.
Loose Leaf Tea Infuser FAQ
What’s the difference between an infuser and strainer?
Infuser and a strainer are two different tea utensils. Infuser is used to hold the leaves while steeping and strainer is used once the steeping is over to strain the tea from the tea leaves. Both may come in handy while steeping the tea. Sometimes, you will need to use a strainer after using an infuser, especially for teas with very small broken leaves.
Learn more about the difference between a strainer and infuser here.
How do you use a tea infuser?
Always wash your tea infuser before using it. Never use a wet tea spoon or ball infuser to scoop the tea from the pouch. If you are using silicone, ball, spoon or tong infusers, add about 1-2 teaspoons of tea leaves into a tea infuser, close it and place it into a mug with hot water. Wait 2-5 minutes, depending on the tea type and remove. If you are using a tea basket, add tea leaves into a clean tea infusing basket, place it into a cup, add hot water and steep. Remove after 2-5 minutes.
What tea types are the best to use with an infuser?
Although you can find a perfect tea infuser for any type of tea, it’s better if you steep some teas using a regular teapot or a gaiwan instead. The best types of tea to use with any infuser are fruity teas with bigger chunks of fruits that don’t need too much space to expand, herbal teas such as chamomile or spice blends such as Coconut Spice, black tea and many green teas. You can use infusing basket or a teapot with a removable infuser for any type of oolong tea, white tea or green tea. Infusing kettles may work best with teas that don’t leave residue and have bigger tea leaves.