If you’re a serious tea drinker, you’re likely to be using loose leaf products over teabags to get the full flavors and benefits. However, to brew tea in the best possible way, you’re going to need a little extra apparatus and equipment to have a drinking experience to be proud of. Sounds like you’re going to need a tea infuser! Or, if you already have one, you might be looking for an upgrade or something more portable.
While you might think that choosing the best tea infuser can’t be all that difficult, there are actually a few things you’re going to want to think about. In general, the more space your leaves have to float and infuse in hot water, the better – but short of leaving them without an infuser, you’ll need to find something that gives the flavor enough space to blend with the water.
To make things a little easier for you, we thought it was high time to put together a quick list of what we think are the best tea infuser options that you can buy right now. From travel options through to decorate and practical, our list covers a range of products that have their own respective advantages. So,, before we get to our list, here’s a quick overview of the different kinds of tea infusers that are out there.
Types of tea infuser
Ball tea infusers
Made of stainless steel mesh, tea balls are compact, portable and easy to use. While some have a chain-type design, others will simply have a long handle to dip your leaves in and out of the water. While they are small and look good, they aren’t necessarily the best choice for tea brewing as they are small and don’t provide the necessary space for the leaves to float freely. But, they are small, attractive and the mesh does a great job of keeping out the smaller tea particles.
Silicone tea infusers
Silicone tea infusers aren’t too different to ball tea infusers, so if you’re going to buy one of these, do ensure that they allow enough space for the leaves to move and brew. Also, while some people may think that silicone infusers leave a taste in the tea, we’ve not found that to be the case. If you’re a casual tea drinker looking for something cheap and entry-level, then these might be just what you need. Also, they are probably the most easy to clean type of tea infuser.
Brewing basket infusers
Brewing baskets are one of the more popular types of tea infuser for those who like a fuller flower. By providing a lot of space for the leaves to swirl, brewing baskets are great for producing a fantastic cup of tea. However, they can get quite big, so do ensure that you have the right kind of mugs.
Mugs with tea infusers as part of the overall design are usually very decorative and look great on any desk or shelf. As well as eliminating the need for a separate piece of equipment, they do a pretty good job of brewing – but do pick one that’s a little larger to make sure that the leaves have the space they need to release all of the loose leaf goodness.
If you’re preparing tea for guests or looking to have refills, teapots are the way to go. And, if you like loose leaf tea, you can find variations that have mesh infusers built into the overall design. These variations have different designs and are made of materials such as glass, ceramic or even cast iron. Once again, make sure that the infuser aspect of the product is big enough, otherwise your tea experience might not be all it can be.
Travel mug infusers
There’s nothing quite like having a hot cup of tea with you on the go, especially if you like your tea strong. Travel mugs with infusers give you the freedom to brew and drink your cuppa wherever you are. They do tend to be a little more fragile than normal infusers because of their glass housings, but if you’re careful you’ll have nothing to worry about. Of course, you can choose metal options, but these cost a little more.
Product Review Summary
Now, before we get into the best tea infusers, here’s a handy table that provides an overview at a glance. Of course, there are more than six tea infusers in the world, but these have been chosen because of their quality, price, design and popularity. And, if you find any tea infusers that you think are missing from the list, just get in touch. Ok, here we go.
|Name and link||Type||One-line review||Best for:|
|Fu Store Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls||Tea ball with chain||Affordable, practical and easy. Also quite portable, but with a less fine mesh then others.||Less-serious tea fans who just want something cheap and handy. Not one for the pros.|
|Fred & Friends Manatea Tea Infuser||Silicone||Adorable and functional, making your tea brewing more fun.||Fans of cute design, or looking for a great gift to give someone.|
|Finum Brewing Basket||Basket||High quality materials and spacious design makes this basket a great choice for fuller flavor.||More serious tea drinkers who want their leaves to have the proper room to brew.|
|Tea Forte Kati Cup Ceramic Tea Infuser||Mug||Beautiful designs with integrated infuser makes this a great choice for displaying on a shelf when not in use.||Gift givers and fans of great design will appreciate this.|
|OXO BREW Twisting Tea Ball Infuser||Tea ball with handle||The handle of this ball infuser makes dipping and brewing the leaves a lot easier, and can also be used as a scoop.||Tea drinkers who are looking for convenience and affordability.|
|Adagio ingenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot||Teapot||Clever function, easy to use and with and plenty of capacity, this is one of the best teapot infusers you can get||Clever function and plenty of capacity, this is one of the best tea infusers with a pot you can get|
|Thermos 16-Ounce Drink Bottle with Tea Infuser||Travel thermos||High quality materials, great capacity and temperature retention, combined with an infuser.||For people who like to take their loose tea on the go and don’t want to worry about it going cold.|
Best budget – Fu Store Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls
Let’s start with the basics. For an easy tea infuser that’s suitable for anyone on a budget, we recommend these handy Fu Store Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls. Coming in a pack of two, they may have a basic design but you can be sure they’ll do a good job on all types of tea without costing the earth.
Made from stainless steel that won’t rust or scratch, they have the build quality that’;ll last you for years to come. All you need to do is fill the ball with tea leaves (leaving a little space of course), clasp it shut and hang it from the edges of your cup with the hooks. One thing to bear in mind with these is that the mesh in this tea infuser is not too fine, meaning that if you want fuller flavor from your tea leaves, you might want to consider a basket instead.
Best designed – Fred & Friends Manatea Tea Infuser
Just to remind us all that tea infusing can have a lighter side, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this Manatea tea infuser which is not only adorable, but functional as well. Perfect as a gift for any tea lover, or to someone who enjoys using loose leaves, this is a novelty item that does the job.
So, by now you’ve seen that it’s silicone manatee with holes in the body. All you have to do is open up the head and load it up with your favorite tea. The best (and cutest) part of it is that you can hook the arms over the edges of the cup to hold the infuser in place while you brew your tea, Then, when you’re done, empty out the used leaves and pop it in the dishwasher. A small word of warning: the holes in the product are a little on the large side, so if you don’t have a tea strainer handy, you might need something with a more fine mesh.
Best basket – Finum Brewing Basket
As we know by now, the more space your tea leaves have to move around in the water and brew, the better the overall taste. That’s why the Finum Brewing Basket makes our list as the best brewing basket, as it has a great balance of price, function and quality.
It might only have a plastic frame, but the fine mesh inside the infuser is made of stainless steel – making it suitable for loose leaf tea that’s a little more on the granular side. There’s no need to worry about the plastic frame melting and you can even flip the lid around to make a tray for the used leaves, if needed. Also, its super easy to clean which is always a plus.
In terms of size, this brewing basket has handy plastic arms that helps the basket fit inside any mug between 2.8 and 4 inches wide. It can also stand on its own in mugs or teacups that are under 4 inches tall. You can also choose from a medium-sized variant if you want something even smaller.
Best teacup – Tea Forte Kati Cup Ceramic Tea Infuser
The mug market is huge, but if you’re looking for an attractive and lever solution to your tea infusion needs, then the Tea Forte Kati Cup is a fantastic choice. It looks lovely on desks and shelves, with decorative patterns that blend infuser and cup together perfectly. Its the perfect gift to give anyone who loves tea, as while they are likely to have mugs and infusers, they might not have a product that does both.
This 12-ounce ceramic cup comes with a stainless steel tea infuser basket that hooks onto the sides. Also, the cleverly double-walled design of the overall cup helps to keep your tea warmer for longer, which is also welcome. The infuser itself also gets bonus points from us because the mesh is nice and fine, eliminating the risk of getting particles into your drink. And finally, the cup is microwave and dishwasher safe, making it a fantastic choice for anyone looking for convenience, attractiveness and quality.
Best tea ball- OXO BREW Twisting Tea Ball Infuser
Although we’ve already featured a steel ball infuser on our list, The OXO Good Grips Twisting Tea Ball is too good a product to pass up – plus, it does have its differences. This is thanks to its handle-based operation which lets you circulate your tea leaves more than the chain variants.
A really cool aspect of this tea infuser is that you can use it as a scoop as well, simply by twisting the end of the handle. By doing this, the ball is split into two halves, meaning that you can easily scoop up any loose debris from your brewing session for a smooth and delicious drink.
We also like the fact that the mesh is nice and fine, and made of stainless steel. The build quality feels durable and the fact you can scoop and dip your tea leaves as you please is a big plus. You can also use the infuser in a teapot as well, so if you’re having guests over, you’re good to go.
Best teapot – Adagio ingenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot
While a lot of tea infusers are made for individual mugs and cups, there are some great option for larger volume brewing for friends, family or repeated cups for yourself. If you want to make a larger amount of tea, you can’t do better than the Adagio Teas ingenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot. Made of high-quality heatproof plastic, the ingenuiTEA teapot can hold up to 16 ounces of liquid, which is more than enough for a few cups. If you need even more, there is a 28-ounce variant on offer as well.
So, how does it work? Well, all you need to do is put your tea and hot water into the contains, and that’s it! Once you’re happy with the brewing time and are ready to serve up, place the pot on top of your cup or mug and push down. This will action the release valve, allowing your fresh tea to flow through the filter and into your mug without any tea leaves or debris.
This clever little pot is also dishwasher safe, so you can enjoy an easy to clean tea experience.
Best travel mug – Thermos 16-Ounce Drink Bottle with Tea Infuser
Last but certainly not least on our least is the Thermos Sipp Vacuum Insulated Drink Bottle with Tea Infuser. This is perfect for those of you that like to have your tea on the go. This handy thermos can keep your tea hot for up to 12 hours (or cold for 24, for ice tea fans).
And, with Thermos being such a well-known brand, you know that you’re getting the quality you’d expect. Made of high grade stainless steel, it has a satisfyingly contoured shape for easy holding. The infuser itself is embedded into the tumbler and attached to the lid and is also of great quality.
Tea brewing tips
Tea brewing is more of an art than you might think. Here are some tips to help you serve up an epic cuppa:
Use loose leaves
This is probably the most important method you can use to improve your cup of tea. It may seem easier to use cheap supermarket tea bags, but you’ll be losing out on a lot of the goodness and flavor that comes with loose leaf tea. And, if you’re like us, it’s easy to pop in a tea bag and forget its tea, resulting in a bitter drink that you’ll try to mask up with milk and sugar.
It’s also common that tea bags use lower quality tea leaves which are ground up into fine material. This means that they will typically have more tannine than loose leaf teas, and will also end up tasting more bitter than you might like. You’ll lose out on all of the complexity and flavor, so if you’ve got yourself one of the tea infusers we recommend above, it’s time to switch to tea leaves instead of bags.
One other thing worth mentioning is that loose tea is typically more environmentally friendly and uses less packaging across the board. If you want to take your tea somewhere and don’t want to lug a giant bag of leaves, you can always find small sachets and other portable containers. There are plenty of travel mugs (like the one on this list) that do a fantastic job. So, go ahead – help the environment and have a perfect cup of tea at the same time.!
Know your teas
Did you know that all teas, whether they are black, white or green come from the same plant? The differences only occur depending on where they are grown and how they are cultivated. Let’s take a quick look at the different loose leaf tea types and their characteristics:
Green tea -Typically not oxidised which gives a fresh and ‘natural’ taste that can range from bitter through to floral and even sweet. If you’re drinking Chinese variants of green tea, use hot water that’s around 76 to 82 degrees and brew for only two or three minutes for the best flavor. For Japanese variants, only steep for one minute.
Black: This tea is completely oxidized to give a strong, dark flavor. To prepare it properly, you’re going to use hot water that’s around 96 to 100 degrees before letting it brew for three to five minutes. If you’re using Darjeeling tea, use slightly cooler water (around 95 degree) and brew for around three minutes.
White: With a medium-level of oxidation, white tea has a more delicate flavor and light colour. To brew up a killer cup, use water that has been boiled up to 80-90 degrees. Let the leaves swirl for around two minutes and you’ll be good to go..
Oolong: Another tea which is semi-oxidized and comes in a range of flavors that go from delicate and floral through to strong and even bitter. Use water that’s around 80-90 degrees and brew for no longer than five minutes, and no shorter than three.
The water you use may affect how your tea tastes. To be honest, most of us use tap water which is fine, but if your water is hard or soft, it may cause your tea to taste chalky or bitter. Its not necessary to use bottled water, but if you’ve got a filter this may help out. However, we will recommend that you use freshly drawn water instead of something that’s been sitting in the kettle for a few hours. This is because ‘fresh’ water will have more oxygen inside thanks to the bubbles, resulting in better brewing and a more lively taste.
Brew tea with care
To make the best possible tea, your leaves will require sufficient space and time to brow. Follow the instructions on the packaging to make sure you get the right amount. And, if you’re using a tea ball or something small as an infuser, do bear in mind that loose tea leaves increase in size when they are wet. Try not to stuff your infuser too much and always remember that the best brewing process lets the leaves swirl and mix around.
When it comes to the extras, it’s ultimately up to you depending on your tastes. However, as tea lovers we will say that it’s best that you don’t add too much milk or sugar, otherwise you’ll just end up masking the overall taste. Honey is generally a softer and smoother taste when compared to sweeteners and sugars, and if you’re feeling fancy, cream definitely has the edge over milk.
A final point on your brewing is to be patient. Leave the leaves alone in the infuser and don’t squash them down or swirl too much. Enjoy the ceremony of brewing your own tea and your tastebuds will thank you for it.
Infuse with love
Tea brewing is an art, and with the best tea infusers you’ll be able to brew fantastic cups of tea. At Tea Perspective we know that when it comes to loose leaf tea, you need a little more care and the best possible tools. Well, with this list you’ve got just that. Whether you like to use tea balls, baskets or pots, there’s something for everyone here. And, of course if you feel like we’ve missed something out, do get in touch and we just might update our list! Until then, go forth and brew.
Last update on 2021-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API