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Most tea infusers on the market fall into one of two categories, tea basket or tea ball. While they seem fairly standard, the right tea infuser will transform looseleaf tea into a delightful beverage while the wrong infuser is sure to vex you with a watery beverage laden with chewy bits of loose tea. So you have to choose wisely!
I will tell you that none of the infusers on this list are gimmicky or will produce bad tea. As a tea lover, I could never do that. Instead, I consulted with a couple of experts on how to brew the best cup and which products will help you relax, not add to your stress.
From an electric tea kettle that's sure to make your morning tea amazing to affordable tea balls that should keep all your loose-leaf tea in one place, here are the best tea infusers to have for your next cuppa.
Best Overall: Finum Stainless Steel Mesh Brewing Basket
What We Love: Lid doubles as a saucer, large basket for proper steeping, dishwasher safe
What We Don’t Love: Includes some plastic pieces
Finum's Stainless Steel Mesh Brewing Basket hits the sweet spot for most people. The easy-to-use basket, which is made of stainless steel mesh and a BPA-free plastic frame, doesn't get hot the way tea balls can. The large basket shape allows the tea plenty of room to unfurl and encourages the tea to steep properly. Since the mesh is super small, leaves won't pass through the filter and into your tea.
One of the best parts is that the included lid does double duty. Put it on the tea to keep it warm during steeping. Invert it to use it as a saucer for the basket when your tea is steeped. When you're finished with your cup, everything can do into the dishwasher. The only thing I don't love about this basket is that the lid and frame are made from plastic.
Dimensions: 3.75 x 3.75 x 4.25 inches | Capacity: 0.5 cups | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Budget: JEXCULL Snap Ball Tea Strainer
What We Love: Inexpensive, stainless steel means no plastic, dishwasher safe
What We Don’t Love: Tea leaves can fall into the cup
Full disclosure, I'm not a big fan of tea balls since it's difficult to get enough tea in there to brew a strong cup. Personal preferences aside, they can make a halfway decent cup of tea if you're keeping to a budget or if you're someone who only wants tea when they're sick. This set comes as a three-pack so you can double-up on tea leaves for a stronger cup.
I'd recommend the snap ball style like JEXCULL's instead of the tea ball on a chain setup because I've had too many of those so-called locking tea balls burst open and flood my cup with tea leaves mid-steep. To avoid leaves seeping through, you'll want to pick up the thick mesh variety of these lightweight stainless steel snap balls. Just make sure you get the tea fully in the ball. If loose tea is on the lip of the tea ball when you snap it shut, it won’t properly seal.
Dimensions: 1.8 x 1.8 x 6.1 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Kettle: Chefman Electric Glass Kettle With Removable Infuser
What We Love: Large capacity with infuser basket, temperature presets lead to better tea, safety features
What We Don’t Love: Infuser basket can fall out of it groove if not properly seated, hand wash only
Heat water and brew a pot of tea directly using the Chefman Electric Glass Kettle With Removable Infuser. Simply fill this with water, drop loose-leaf or bagged tea in the infuser, place it on the base, and switch on. Temperature presets let you brew water to the perfect steeping temperature for your tea with the push of a button. When the water gets to the right temp, LED lights pop on to alert you. Just make sure the infuser is seated in the groove. If it isn't properly seated, it can pop out.
This does come with a couple of safety features including a stay-cool handle and auto-shutoff. Made of borosilicate glass, this kettle has a capacity of 1.8 liters and weighs 3.2 pounds without water. One drawback? Due to the power switch and electrical elements, this is not dishwasher safe.
Dimensions: 8.25 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches | Capacity: 1.8 liters | Dishwasher Safe: No
Related: The Best Iced Tea Makers
Best Mug: FORLIFE Brew-In-Mug with Basket Infuser
What We Love: Large infuser basket promotes flavor extraction, plastic-free ceramic and stainless steel tea infuser, dishwasher safe
What We Don’t Love: Can be hot to the touch
Tea sommelier and tea blogger Jee Choe recommends the FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug for tea lovers looking for an infuser mug. "It’s perfectly sized at 11 ounces, so it's not too big and not too small," says Choe. The infuser basket is large (almost as large as the mug), which means ideal flavor extraction. The mug’s stainless steel lid "keeps the water hot as the tea steeps and can be used to hold the infuser basket after the steep," Choe adds.
FORLIFE's mug is made of lead-free, high-fired ceramic with a stainless steel lid. These materials mean that the ceramic mug and stainless steel lid can be quite hot to the touch, so be careful! The mug is microwavable and all parts are dishwasher safe.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4.8 x 3.6 x 3.6 inches | Capacity: 11 fluid ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Tea Kettles
Best Glass: Lezero Loose Tea-Leaf Brewing System
What We Love: Best for preserving tea flavor, durable, dishwasher safe
What We Don’t Love: Not a great choice for very finely ground teas
I know what you’re thinking: glass? Isn't that fragile?? Yes, but according to Red Blossom Tea, glass is the best choice of material for a tea infuser because it is neutral. Plastic and metal tea infusers can alter the flavor of the tea, which is something you might notice more with a delicate tea.
Lezero’s Loose Tea-Leaf Brewing System is made of break-resistant borosilicate glass that won't experience thermal shock and can withstand temperatures from -4 to 300 degrees. This means it’s safe for the dishwasher, microwave, and even the stovetop, though I don’t recommend that! This isn’t the best pick for very finely ground teas, like rooibos, as some leaves may fall through the slits in the glass.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 3.7 x 3.5 x 3.3 inches | Capacity: 13 fluid ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Portable: Teabloom All-Purpose Beverage Tumbler
What We Love: Durable option for to-go tea, multipurpose, fine basket keeps tea leaves in place
What We Don’t Love: Not dishwasher safe
Getting good tea on the road is pretty challenging. If you need your morning cup, it’s best to BYO tea setup. I prefer stainless steel travel mugs since they’re tough and Teabloom’s All-Purpose Beverage Tumbler gets high marks for its heat retention and leakproof lid.
This 16-ounce tumbler can be used for everything from infused water and cold-brew coffee to tea and other hot drinks. It works by snapping the infuser basket onto the tumbler. Then, you leave it in place for fruit-infused water or pull it out when your tea (or cocktail!) is finished steeping. The mesh is fine enough that most loose-leaf teas will stay contained in the basket. The only downside to this versatile travel tea infuser is that it is not dishwasher safe.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 2.4 x 2.4 x 9 inches | Capacity: 16 fluid ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Cold-Brew Coffee Makers
The Finum Stainless Steel Mesh Brewing Basket (view at Amazon) brews high-quality tea, is dishwasher-safe, and versatile, all at an affordable price. The well-priced Chefman Electric Glass Kettle With Removable Infuser (view at Amazon) is a great electric tea kettle with its own infuser basket and temperature settings for the best cup of tea.
What to Look for in a Tea Infuser
Balls and baskets are the two most common types of tea infusers. Balls aren’t great for fine tea because "they’re too constricting," says Choe. When tea packed in the ball can't expand, you aren't getting those premium flavors you are paying for.
Baskets are preferred by serious tea drinkers since they give tea more room to unfurl, which leads to better flavor development.
You’ll also find novelty-shaped infusers like colorful, plasticky manatees or mermaids with a little basket. These are cute, but not great. Like tea balls, they’re cramped. Complicated designs can actually block off water flow through the leaves, leading to a tea that is not well steeped.
Tea infuser mugs are a separate but related category, developed to satisfy tea drinkers on the go. These usually double as a tea infuser basket plus a travel mug.
Ease of Use
Most tea infusers are pretty easy to use. You fill them with tea, put them in hot water, and wait. It can take up to four minutes so be patient. For best results, look for the infusers that are easy to fill and properly allow the tea leaves to expand rather than those that lack the capacity for this.
If your tea infuser isn't easy to clean, it’ll probably find its way to the back of your drawer while you opt for bagged tea instead. "Large infuser baskets are easy to clean since they don’t have a lot of small spaces to reach into," says Choe–another reason to go basket-style. Some infusers are able to go into the dishwasher for a sanitizing rinse, but you might want to hand wash anything made from mesh to safeguard it from tearing.
Can you put tea bags in a tea infuser?
Sure! Infusers are meant to tease out the more complex flavor profiles of a loose leaf tea or herbal tisane. Bags are self-contained tea infusers and usually made with lower-quality tea, but if you want an easy way to pull your bagged tea out of a mug, go right ahead!
Can you use your infuser for other drinks?
People are looking for other uses for tea infusers, but to be honest, they’re kind of a one-purpose kitchen accessory. Occasionally, I’ll use an old tea ball for infusing whole spices in stews and soups. They can come in handy with hot toddies and the like.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Lindsey Danis is a former professional cook and a food writer for retail and trade publications. She loves visiting tea shops when she travels and making summer iced teas from herbs grown in her garden.
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