With more of us drinking tea for health benefits as well as for its great taste, selecting loose teas are the best way to ensure a premium drink as well as allowing us to blend different leaves to our own taste. Unless you prefer to brew in a tea pot and use a strainer to catch stray leaves, then along with quality tea, a decent tea infuser is a must-have.An infuser can be sized for a cup or even a tea pot and it will also double up as a spice ball to steep fresh herbs or spices when cooking on the stove top. There are a range of infusers available today, some are better suited to larger leaf teas or larger pots while others are better for smaller leaves or cups. We review a range of infusers and also consider what design features the best tea infuser should have to ensure it brews the perfect cup of tea every time.
Suitable for most sizes of cup, the dishwasher-safe Adagio Teas IngenuiTEA (16 oz) is our best pick of the tea infusers.
Made from premium grade stainless steel, the Schefs SCTiFB-1 11 premium small infuser with its 60-day money back guarantee is our budget pick tea infuser.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Tea Infusers
- 1. Adagio Teas IngenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot
- 2. Schefs SCTIFB-1 11 Premium Infuser
- 3. Hiware Good Glass Teapot with Stainless Steel Infuser
- 4. Chefast Tea Infuser Set
- 5. Tea Forte KATI Single Cup Brewing System
- 6. FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Tea Infuser
- 7. Fu Store 2pcs Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Ball
- 8. House Again 4-pack Extra Fine Mesh Tea Infuser
- 9. Thermos 16-Ounce Drink Bottle with Tea Infuser
- 10. House Again Extremely Fine Mesh Tea Infuser
- Things to Consider Before Buying a Tea Infuser
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Tea Infusers
1. Adagio Teas IngenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot
Designed to sit on top of the cup; you need to add tea and water to the top of the Adagio Teas IngenuiTEA (16 oz) pot and the tea will then drain through the bottom of it and into your cup. The bottom of this pot has a mesh to prevent leaves from falling into the cup and when you remove the pot, a bottom valve seals to prevent it from dripping. The pot has a 3.5" diameter base which makes it suitable for most sizes of cup.This is dishwasher safe and made from BPA-free and food grade plastic. It can be prone to occasional leaks, like any form of bottom dispensing pot and it can be difficult to take apart for a thorough clean.
2. Schefs SCTIFB-1 11 Premium Infuser
Containing precision laser etched holes and a twist lock lid, the Schefs SCTiFB-1 11 premium small infuser is made from premium grade stainless steel. As a smaller infuser it will not be suitable for larger tea leaves which need more room to expand.This infuser can be rinsed by hand or placed in the dishwasher. This also comes with a 60-day money back guarantee. There can be a risk of the lid not attaching properly when in use and over time the lid may not attach as firmly.
3. Hiware Good Glass Teapot with Stainless Steel Infuser
The Hiware glass tea pot with infuser (27 oz) is suitable for use on the stovetop or microwave (without the infuser in place) and is dishwasher safe for easy clean up. The infuser is 18/10 stainless steel and the glass body is made of lead-free borosilicate glass. As this is a glass tea pot, there is a higher risk of it sustaining some damage during shipping and it will need handling carefully during use as the spout and handle are also glass.The lid only fastens on when the infuser is in, which means you cannot remove the infuser to prevent further brewing and then replace the lid to keep the remaining brew warm.
4. Chefast Tea Infuser Set
Made from food grade 304 stainless steel, the Chefast tea infuser set includes a large multi cup infuser and two singe cup infusers. The set also contains a multi-function tea scoop that has a bag clip handle. Some consider that these infusers are still quite small depending on how much you would want to brew and what type of leaves you use. The lids can also be prone to loosening over time, although the infusers do come with a one-year warranty.
5. Tea Forte KATI Single Cup Brewing System
With its double walled insulated and lidded ceramic cup, the Tea Forte KATI single cup brewing system – cherry blossoms (12 oz) allows you to brew loose tea or herbals in its integrated stainless steel infuser basket. This lid is more of a resting lid and base for the infuser, rather than it being a lid tight enough to allow you to use it as a travel mug.
There is a small risk of the cup cracking when used for the first time and as the cup can get hot it can be awkward to hold as there is no handle. This cup and lid are microwave and dishwasher safe. This brewing system comes with a Prop 65 warning.
6. FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Tea Infuser
The stainless steel FORLIFE brew-in-mug infuser (white) is a basket infuser with a lid and small handle which is able to sit on top of your mug. The rim of the lid is finished with white silicone and the lid also doubles as a tray for the infuser.The mesh may not be as fine as expected, so smaller leaves may still end up in your cup. The handle could also be bigger, as depending on your size of cup, there is a risk of the infuser falling into it.
7. Fu Store 2pcs Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Ball
Made of 304 grade stainless steel, the Fu Store two piece tea balls have clasp fastens and hooks to attach over your cup. The mesh on these is a wider mesh so will not be suitable for finer leaves or herbals. These tea balls may not be as robust as other tea balls and may not seal completely when they fasten together in the middle.
8. House Again 4-pack Extra Fine Mesh Tea Infuser
The House Again four pack of tea infusers (flower design) are a food grade 304 stainless steel basket design with a BPA-free food grade silicone handle and tray. There is a risk of the stainless steel starting to rust within a few months of use. The mesh is an extra fine mesh which will stop finer leaves falling through but may also stop larger leaves from steeping properly.
The hanging design of the colored silicone flowers make them easy to attach to the side of your cup or pot, although depending on the pot size there is a risk of air bubbles in the infuser causing the infuser to float on top of the pot. These are suitable for cleaning in the dishwasher and they also come with a satisfaction guarantee.
9. Thermos 16-Ounce Drink Bottle with Tea Infuser
Able to keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours or liquids hot for up to 12, the Thermos drink bottle with infuser (16 oz) is suitable for brewing loose leaf teas. This has a leak-proof and locking lid that opens with a one-touch operation. The infuser on this is smaller than expected, so depending on what tea you use, you could struggle to brew up to the capacity needed to keep the brew hot.The plastic components on the lid may not be the sturdiest and there can be a risk of tea leaking if the bottle is tipped up in your bag. Made from stainless steel, this drink bottle is suitable for cleaning in the dishwasher.
10. House Again Extremely Fine Mesh Tea Infuser
The basket-style House Again extremely fine mesh infuser comes with a metal lid on the infuser which doubles as a tray and a silicone lid that acts as an insulator and is cool to touch. This extremely fine mesh is ideal for smaller leaf teas and may also be suitable for some coffees. The infuser basket is made from food grade 304 stainless steel and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.The lifetime on this infuser may be less than expected and the seam on the outside of the mesh may be a little sharp to the touch. It is also worth double checking the size of this infuser before buying as although larger than other infusers, it is only shallow and may not sit properly in all cups or pots.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Tea Infuser
Loose tea is often better quality than the tea found in tea bags. This is because tea bags contain smaller broken or partial leaves – often known as fannings and dust. Tea bags can also be packed quite densely which can stop leaves from expanding as much and releasing their flavor.
The tea ball and infuser are terms often used interchangeably. A tea ball always follows the same principles of design, yet an infuser can be much broader. The infuser can sit on the top of water or sit at the bottom of the cup. A strainer is usually only used to catch leaves during pouring rather than being used to infuse tea.
The size of the infuser will depend on how much tea you brew at a time. If you allow around one teaspoon of leaves per cup, this will give you an idea of how much you will need to infuse. Any type of infuser should only ever be filled halfway with leaves, as the tea needs room to move, especially if the leaves are rolled or curled, as these need to unroll to release flavor. Consider a larger infuser if you brew large leaf green teas, white teas, rooibos or oolongs.
Tea infusers became popular by the mid-19th century. Before this, strainers were used. Early tea infusers were often ornate silver, viewed as decorative pieces as well as functional, and were often made by leading silversmiths of the time. These infusers allowed people to brew individually and to their preferred taste as well as being travel-friendly. By the early 20th century, the tea bag had begun to take over after a New York tea merchant called William Sullivan packaged some tea samples up in small muslin bag. Rather than tip the leaves out, the recipients ended up just pouring hot water over the bags and so, the tea bag was born.
The Tea Ball
A tea ball usually contains fewer and larger holes. The ball-shaped infuser either comes apart completely or is hinged; either type will have some form of small clip to keep it closed. There are also spoon-style infusers, which need the handle squeezing to open up the tea ball. All of these are designed to sit in the cup during brewing.
A large hole tea ball is only suitable for brewing larger leaves - any smaller leaves or herbals will be able to come through the holes and into the cup. Some tea balls are made with finer mesh, which means you can use them for smaller leaves and herbals. Unfortunately, because tea balls are often small infusers, their size can stop leaves infusing fully.
Some infusers are also available in novelty shapes – often made from silicone. Silicone can sometimes leave an odor in tea though, so is best avoided for delicate teas.
The Basket Infuser
Often made of fine mesh with a handle or lip, a basket infuser is a larger infuser designed to just sit in your cup or pot with the loose leaves inside. Some of these infusers are also suitable for brewing coffee with. Basket infusers are easy to clean, you just need to tip out the leaves and rinse. A number are also dishwasher safe.
A Tea Pot Infuser
If you brew larger quantities of tea, then a tea pot with a removeable infuser is an option. These infusers are usually large and if the tea pot is glass, it is easy to see how well it is diffusing.
Paper filters/infuser are ideal for very fine leaves and are recyclable or compostable after use. These paper infusers are also easy to fill before travelling. They are best suited to teas or herbals which are small and do look for filters with extra folds in them to allow them to expand once wet.
The Mesh Strainer
These sit over the cup, to catch the leaves as you pour from the tea pot. As with infusers, a finer mesh is better for smaller leaves and herbals.
Cleaning a Tea Infuser
Anything used for brewing tea will stain over time. If the infuser is dishwasher safe, then putting it through the dishwasher may remove some of the stains. Otherwise for light staining, try soaking in hot water with a tablespoon of baking soda. You can also soak in white vinegar for a few hours or overnight. You should rinse the infuser well after soaking in either of these.
If the staining is heavy, or the above methods have not removed it, then you could soak in a bleach solution of around ¼ cup household bleach with one cup of water. Leave the infuser in the mix for 15 minutes or so then check it. If it is still stained, then replace and leave a little longer. The infuser will need a thorough rinsing after this to ensure that all traces of bleach are removed before it is re-used.
Using loose leaf is a great way to ensure a premium cup of tea. Rather than needing to brew in the tea pot and then strain your tea, an infuser allows you to brew tea properly but with less mess. An infuser is also ideal for one cup brewing.In this article we have looked at the different types of infusers available and what types of tea they are most suited to. We have also reviewed a selection of infusers to assist you to choose the best tea infuser for your tea leaves as well as offered some tips for cleaning your infuser after use.