Infusing tea is a combination of science and art. Once you’ve selected the ideal loose leaf tea type, it’s time to brew. When it comes to steeping the perfect cup of tea, it helps if you have the right tools for the job. Matching your tea to the best type of tea infuser can be the difference between a good or bad cuppa. Ultimately you want to do everything you can to lift your whole tea drinking experience. Let’s explore the world of tea infusers and learn how to choose one that best suits your tea needs. Whether you’re an experienced tea lover or just a humble beginner, here’s what you need to know about infusers for your tea.
What Is A Tea Infuser?
Beyond a classic tea cup and standard teapot situation, there’s a fancier, modernised way to brew your favourite tea. Sure, if you’re a bag-in-bag-out type of tea drinker, these contraptions may not be for you. But for the amateur tea masters among us, loose leaves are the only way to go for making tea.
Enter tea infusers. One of these should be a standard issue division of your tea making toolkit. For a high quality, yet quick and easy cup of tea every time, a tea infuser is essential. They are capsules (or a receptacle) specifically designed to hold loose leaf tea for an individual cup or large pot of tea. Tea infusers go directly into your pot or cup, awaiting a submergence of boiling water. They can also be added to your favourite travel mug for an easeful morning tea. Other infusers are an all-in-one style infuser and mug joined together. These devices are particularly cool, because all you need is hot water and you’re done.
Essentially, using a tea infuser eliminates the need for a strainer, as it’s built-in and done for you. They’re usually made of fine mesh, silicone or stainless steel. Often they have a chain attached so you can dunk and remove the entire infuser once the steeping time is up. It’s fair to say that tea infusers have revolutionised the way we can make and enjoy tea.
Why Use A Tea Infuser?
The simple answer is because life’s too short to have weak or boring tea. If an investment’s already made with purchasing top quality tea from the best available tea merchants, why not invest in the right tea steeping tools too? When tea is able to be infused properly, imparting all its lovely flavours, aromas and plant polyphenols, you’ll get a superior cup every time.
What some people may not consider is how tightly packed a standard tea bag is. This restriction within bagged tea leaves means the tea can’t steep sufficiently, resulting in a weak or bland tea. So what happens then? Sometimes two tea bags are needed to get the strength in flavour you’re desiring.
It’s easy to see how loose leaf tea, made using a tea infuser not only yields a better cup of tea, it’s also more economical in the long run. Typically, less actual tea is required per cup, because the tea leaves themselves can freely move and infuse the water during their brew time. In general, loose leaf tea has more bang for your buck, is higher in antioxidants and boasts bolder flavours. Support immune function, brain health and boost your overall well being with tea made using an infuser.
How To Choose The Right Tea Infuser
This decision can be as complex or as simple as you like. Much will depend on the type of tea you like and your daily ritual of tea drinking. In fact, having more than one tea infuser can be a useful and worthwhile investment. How you drink your tea, what type of tea and who you enjoy it with can all influence your choice of tea infuser.
Next, consider the material of your tea infuser. Silicone is a popular choice as it’s durable, washes easily and doesn’t affect the tea flavour. Some people maintain that stainless steel infusers can alter the taste of some teas. Often green tea or white tea, as they’re more delicate varieties, need a gentle approach to steeping and equipment used. The only way to know what works is to try out different options and see for yourself. It can be helpful to start with something small and simple and graduate to more intricate tea gadgets in time.
Here’s a summary of the best tea infusers to suit every tea style, for novices and pros alike.
Different Types of Tea Infusers
Confused about where to start? Here’s a helpful list of tea infuser options. Once you get going on your infusion journey, the options are truly endless. You’ll be a master brewer in no time with the right infuser to set you on your way.
Didn’t think you could use your old French press plunger as a tea infuser? Think again! This could well be the easiest and most convenient method for infusing loose leaf tea. Largely because most people have a French press floating around the pantry amidst various tea or coffee devices. Nothing new to buy and nothing fancy needed. Just add tea leaves to the bottom of the plunger (the same as you would ground coffee) and fill it with freshly boiled water. Steep for the usual time recommended for your tea type. When you’re ready to serve, just press the plunger part down through the water and over the tea leaves. Couldn’t really be much simpler.
Tea Ball Infusers
Here’s the beginning of your real tea infusion journey. A tea ball infuser is perfect for a quick, easy single-serve cup of tea. A tea ball is usually made of mesh or stainless steel with a spoon shaped handle or chain for easy removal. Even though these are ideal for a one cup drink, ensure the tea ball you’ve got is big enough for the loose leaves to circulate properly. Oval shaped ball infusers are well designed for this, allowing the leaves to open, expand and infuse thoroughly.
Most tea ball infusers are sized perfectly for a teaspoon or two of tea. Carefully drop a spoon of tea leaves, enclose the clasp and you’re ready to brew. Finer teas, such as the needle-shaped leaves of rooibos tea or spiced masala chai may not be suitable for a tea ball infuser. This is because the mesh is usually too big to contain these types of tea. Stick with all black teas, green tea, and some herbal tisanes like peppermint tea with your tea ball infuser.
Silicone Tea Infusers
In terms of simplicity, a very close second to tea balls are silicone tea infusers. These are just as simple to use and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Silicone infusers make tea time a whole lot of fun. In fact, they’re an entertaining way to introduce kids to the world of tea. From deep-sea divers to hippos, enjoy playing around with tea making, even if it’s just for yourself.
Silicone is usually safe when heated, but always make sure you’re using BPA-free vessels for your tea brewing adventures. BPA can disrupt hormones in the body and lead to an array of health issues. Otherwise, silicone tea infusers are a great choice to infuse your loose leaf tea. Have fun and enjoy each sip, with a little help from this tea infuser shark friend, of course.
Travel Mugs & Tea Mugs
For the morning commuter, playground supervisor or long-distance traveller, you can’t go past a travel mug. Tea lovers know full well the benefits of sitting quietly to enjoy a fresh cup of our favourite brew. Alas, life is busy and long, relaxing sit-downs in the sun aren’t always doable. Sure, it’s important to slow down from the pace of the world every now and then. However, when everything speeds up, it’s still nice to enjoy a hot cup of tea - wherever you are.
What makes travel mugs and tea mugs so fabulous is their ease of use. Brew a cup of tea right in the mug, secure the lid and go. Whether it be in the car, sidelining a Saturday soccer match, or … right in bed! Travel mugs, like this portable bottle, are a spill-free, mess-free and hassle-free option for infusing and enjoying tea. These mugs have a built-in tea infuser, which makes the whole process incredibly straightforward. It might just afford a moment of serenity, later on in the day.
Big Brew Infuser Teapots
We’ve covered tea for one. What about tea for two? Or more? Here’s the perfect infuser for your bigger brewing needs. These infuser teapots are great for a tea party or if you’re partial to a traditional pot of tea, without the fuss of a strainer. Similar to tea mugs, a teapot tea infuser has a built-in infuser, usually just under the lid. Infuser teapots come in classic or contemporary styles, to suit your mood or tea drinking needs. Keep a look out for ceramic, clay, cast iron, glass or porcelain infuser teapots. These are a wonderful modern twist on a traditional pot of tea. Your Nan won’t know the difference!
Similar to drip coffee, you can also make tea using a drip extraction method. The Hario Largo dripper makes a high quality cup of tea in as quick as 5 minutes. Steeping time, brewing ratios and extraction rate are all exacted using this method of tea infusion. This trendy, compact device sits directly over your tea cup where you can begin your brewing process. This tea dripper is ideal for a double serve of tea, of any variety. It’s constructed of heat resistant glass, so you can watch your tea as it unfurls. For a bit of amusement with your tea making, this device is worth a look.
For Professional Tea Drinkers: Tea Infuser Baskets
Tea connoisseurs unanimously agree - infuser baskets are the crème de la crème of tea infusion tools. These baskets offer the most space for tea leaves to roam unfettered, in the depths of their tea vessel. This means the optimal flavour, aroma and health benefits of each tea can really shine. Tea baskets are typically made from bamboo or other natural fibres. Occasionally they are made of metal, but because this imparts a slight metallic taste to tea, it’s not the preferred choice.
If you want to discover your loose leaf tea’s true potential, a tea infuser basket is for you. Any type of tea can be brewed in a tea basket. From a traditional Chinese Pu-erh tea, to a calming chamomile or a strong and smoky Lapsang Souchong tea. All you need to consider is the amount of people to serve and the temperature required to make the perfect tea. Nailing the temperature and steep time is paramount to producing a top shelf tea, every single time. A tea infuser basket might just be the right choice for you.
Tea Infusers For The Perfect Cup of Tea
With so many different infusers to choose from, you can take your tea drinking to a whole new level. Ensuring you use the right tool for the task can transport your tea experience from enjoyable to an essential ritual of your day. If it’s tea for one, tea on the run or tea for twenty, there’s a tea infuser that’s just right for you. Pick one, or more and get brewing.
Hinojosa-Nogueira, D., Pérez-Burillo, S., Pastoriza de la Cueva, S., & Rufián-Henares, J. Á. (2021). Green and white teas as health-promoting foods. Food & function, 12(9), 3799–3819. https://doi.org/10.1039/d1fo00261a
Khan, N., & Mukhtar, H. (2018). Tea Polyphenols in Promotion of Human Health. Nutrients, 11(1), 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11010039
Konieczna, A., Rutkowska, A., & Rachoń, D. (2015). Health risk of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA). Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny, 66(1), 5–11.
Serafini, M., Del Rio, D., Yao, D. N., Bettuzzi, S., & Peluso, I. (2011). Health Benefits of Tea. In I. Benzie (Eds.) et. al., Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. (2nd ed.). CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
Shang, A., Li, J., Zhou, D. D., Gan, R. Y., & Li, H. B. (2021). Molecular mechanisms underlying health benefits of tea compounds. Free radical biology & medicine, 172, 181–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2021.06.006
Wikipedia Contributors. (2022, May 31). Infuser. Retrieved from Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infuser, viewed May 31, 2022