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What to Look For in a Loose Leaf Tea Infuser

How do you brew your loose leaf teas? Do you have a teapot that allows you to add your favorites leaves right into an infuser beneath its lid? Or do you place your loose leaf blends into your mug, making individual cups? Chances are, if you are brewing a single cup of loose leaf tea, you need an infuser to complete the task. How else can you create the perfect brew of tea and ensure you won’t sip on a few leaves as well? A loose leaf tea infuser contains your favorite tea leaves, allowing you to steep without loosing leaves in the process. Though every infuser does the same work, every one is different, with different benefits. The type of loose leaf tea infuser every tea lover chooses to use depends on their style, their tea taste, and their brewing needs.

The Tea Infuser Ball

One of the most common types of loose leaf tea infusers is the tea ball, a wire mesh sphere attached to a chain. A tea ball infuser opens so that loose leaf tea can be placed in both halves of the sphere, and is then placed inside a mug with the chain draped over the side. As hot water slip into the tea infuser ball through the mesh, the loose leaf tea is able to release its aroma and flavor — and none of the leaves are able to sneak into the cup of water itself. One variety of the traditional tea infuser ball is the Norpro Stainless Steel infuser. The only complaints of those who use this variety of loose leaf tea infuser are that the chain often falls into the cup, leaving you to fish it out with your fingers, and that the hinges of each ball can malfunction after much use.

The OXO Good Grips Twisting Tea Ball is an infuser than can solve the problem of slippery chains on most similar loose leaf tea infuser varieties. It features a handle that can rest against your mug, keeping your hands dry and tea chain-free.

Tea Tongs

If the tea ball infuser isn’t for you, consider using tea tongs. Rather than dangling from the length of a chain, the mesh or stainless steel infuser rests at the end of two handles. Models like the Danesco Tea Infuser Tongs feature the same ball shape as the tea ball infuser, but require you to squeeze both handles in order to open the ball and add or remove loose leaf tea leaves. This loose leaf tea infuser style suffers from the same problems as the tea ball: the hinge can grow unreliable, and it can be hard to fit a lot of tea into the available area.

Others, like the Norpro Round Stainless Steel Teabag Squeezer, are less similar to the tea ball infuser. Instead, they require you to place your loose leaf tea in an empty or homemade tea bag, and are simply two handles that allow you to grip your tea bag and submerge it. This is a tricky loose leaf infuser to use, as you have to keep your hold on it until steeping is complete.

The Tea Basket (or Strainer)

Another very popular variety of loose leaf tea infuser is the tea basket, or tea strainer. Shaped like a basket, with a wide opening at their top and a smaller, closed bottom, these infusers fit in nearly any mug, any cup. Thanks to their mesh material, they hold loose leaf tea underwater while prevent any small bits from sneaking through the holes in the basket. Tea basket infusers can also hold more tea, allowing for stronger cups or perhaps even an entire pot.

Tea baskets, or strainers, like the leafTEA Loose Leaf Strainer and the Schefs Premium Tea Infuser, are easy to use and clean. They can be placed over a mug, the basket resting in the water below, and allow varieties of loose leaf tea to expand and fill your mug.

The Fun, Different, and Unique

If your style is a bit wilder and more fun, you don’t have to choose a boring loose leaf infuser. Instead, select a more unique and adorable option that will make every cup of tea a little more lively. You can find loose leaf tea infusers in the shape of a sloth, a strawberry, or even a manatee — and there are endless more options to explore at your favorite tea shop or online. These work just like any other in-cup tea infuser, featuring hinges or a removable half that allows you to insert your tea. Each also comes with its own unique way of removing the infuser from the cup, such as the stem of the strawberry, or the fins of the manatee.

No matter which loose leaf tea infuser you choose, each variety and shape offers a different way to create your cups of tea. From the exciting and unexpected to the more traditional, every loose leaf infuser helps you brew without loosing leaves, flavor, or aroma.

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