Top tea infusers: updated November 2019

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If you want to make the perfect cup of tea, loose leaves are superior to tea bags but without a tea infuser, things can become messy. If you are after that perfect cup of tea, or if you already thinking about gifts for Christmas 2019 and wondering what to buy the tea lover in your life, read on to find out all about the different types of infuser available and our top pick in each category. Find out everything you need to know here:

What is a tea infuser?

If you are preparing tea from loose leaves, rather than tea bags, you need some way of suspending the leaves in the water in order for them to steep or brew and then straining off the lovely liquid. The most traditional option is to use a teapot with the loose leaves allowed to move about freely: the tea is then poured through a tea strainer to separate leaves from liquid.

A tea infuser takes a slightly different approach to brewing tea with loose leaves. It holds the leaves in one place, either in the pot, cup or mug, allowing the water to flow around it. They are traditionally made of metal, usually stainless steel and can be formed from a mesh or perforated sheet metal. More modern infusers can be made of heat-resistant silicone.

Why use a tea infuser?

Most of us tea-lovers will tell you that the best quality tea is only available in loose form. While a tea being in the form of loose leaves is not a guarantee of quality in itself, it is very difficult to get hold of the highest quality tea, that is, whole leaf tea, in the form of tea bags.

Tea bags usually contain mostly broken leaves, also called fannings, and a certain amount of tea dust. There’s nothing bad or harmful about this lower quality tea, it’s just common sense that the more a tea is handled and processed, the more it will break up into smaller and smaller pieces.

Tea bags have another problem: lack of space. In order to pack as much flavour into a tea bag, they tend to contain a lot of fannings and dust. There is not much space for the leaves to expand which can lead to a brew which is somehow both bland and bitter at the same time.

If you’ve never tried loose tea then you’re in for a tea treat. Loose leaf tea results in a brighter, fresher, punchier brew despite using a smaller quantity of tea.

What types of tea infuser are available?

Teapot infuser

If you are making tea for more than one person then you’ll need a full-size teapot. Many of these will contain a basket in which to place the leaves while some employ a filter in the base of the pot. You then simply place the pot over the mug and the liquid flows out through a filter that catches the leaves.

Tea ball infuser

These are traditionally made from metal but are often rather small and so can suffer from the same problems as tea bags. However, they are cheap and an easy way to get started using loose tea. Ball infusers are of two main types: They usually either have a long handle and look a bit like a spoon, or they have a chain to hook over the side of the cup or mug.

More modern versions are made from soft silicone rubber and are available in every design and colour you can think of. They are usually dishwasher and microwave safe and if looked after properly will last as long as the more traditional metal type.

Tea infuser basket

This allows the tea to really move about and maximizes the amount of contact between leaf and water. The bigger the basket, the bigger and better the flavour. A mug infuser will often fit snugly inside the mug, allowing the leaves to deliver maximum flavour, and teapot infusers are often this big too.

Tea mug infuser

As with teapots, there is a choice of materials available, generally, either ceramic of some sort, or glass. As with the teapots, the glass ones allow you to see the tea brewing so you can remove the basket containing the leaves when it’s brewed to your desired taste. If you’re using a ceramic version you just have to know how long to brew your tea for.

Travel flasks and mugs with a built-in infuser

These are usually a fairly straightforward adaptation of the standard travel flask is to incorporate an infuser basket that nestles into the top part of the flask. They vary in the outer material used: some are made of ceramic, like the traditional tea cup or tea pot, some have the more traditional stainless steel or plastic exterior, newer varieties use sustainable materials such as bamboo to form the outer layer.

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Our top picks by category

  • What is a tea infuser?
  • Why use a tea infuser?
  • What types of tea infuser are available?
  • Our top picks by category:

    Top picks for each category

    Best teapot infuser

    The most popular materials for this are traditional ceramic, traditional cast iron and much more modern glass (make sure it’s lightweight, temperature-resistant glass) and even more modern BPA-free plastic. Personally, I think the latter is the best option as it is both lightweight and won’t break (easily). There are a lot of options for this, but our vote goes to:

    Teabox Classic Tea Maker (Large)

    Classic Tea Maker (Large)This is a real game-changer in the world of tea brewing – it even eliminates the need for pouring! The entire pot and infuser are made of clear plastic so you can see your tea brewing. Made of food-grade, BPA-free Tritan plastic, it is lightweight and shatter-resistant and has a big easy-grip handle which is brilliant for those of us who are liable to break things in the kitchen.

    Unlike many infuser teapots which have a built-in basket, the loose leaves in this pot can move around freely, giving you the best of all worlds. To dispense the lovely tea you simply place on top of your cup the built-in plastic filter basket in the base of the pot will catch the loose leaves. It holds a massive 1 litre (35 fl oz) of water so is big enough for a tea party As if that weren’t enough, it’s also dishwasher-safe. It is also available in a smaller size if, for some reason, you want to make less tea.

    Best ball infuser

    teapot-2-inch-mesh-ball-infuser
    Culinary Teas 2-inch mesh ball infuser

    Culinary Teas Teapot 2 inch Mesh Ball infuser

    This is practical, easy to use, and won’t break the bank. Like most classic ball infusers it is made of stainless steel mesh with a steel chain attached and a hook to put over the side of your mug so you don’t lose it. Big enough for a cup for one person, just remember not to overfill it or the leaves won’t have room to expand and brew properly.

    A quality infuser with a fine mesh and dishwasher safe, this is perfect for a quick brew for one. While this sort of infuser is available from most tea vendors, we particularly love the pretty teapot fob on this one, hence it’s our number one choice in this category.

    Best (novelty) silicone infuser

    Fred & Friends Manatea Tea Infuser

    As a long-term lover of manatees and supporter of Save the Manatee, this adorable device is just irresistible. The manatea (get it?) perches on the rim of the cup while the water swirls around his lovely tail allowing the tea to steep. Made of soft, food-safe BPA free silicone he is dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe and easy to clean. This may be the most adorable tea item I have ever come across!

    Best basket infuserUniversal Tea Infuser with Multi-Functional Lid

    Teabloom Universal Tea Infuser with Multi-Functional Lid

    This is a large basket which will fit a range of sizes of mugs, cups, travel mugs and teapots and is large enough to hold enough tea to make a full pot. The handles on either side suspend the infuser from the rim and are easy to hold.

    It is made of durable FDA-approved food-grade (8/18) stainless steel with extra-fine holes to catch even the smallest tea leaves and is guaranteed not to rust, crack or shatter. The lid helps keep the tea hot while it is brewing then can be used as a coaster on which to rest the basket and catch the drips. Dishwasher safe.

    Best ceramic mug infuser

    Grosche KASSEL Ceramic Tea Infuser MugKASSEL Ceramic Tea Infuser Mug

    Personally, I’m too clumsy to trust myself with glass and prefer drinking out of a ceramic mug anyway, especially for hot tea (and I’m British, so I drink my tea hot 99% of the time). This model is available in four colours and contains a fine mesh stainless steel infuser for both coarse and fine leaf teas. The lid keeps the tea warm while it brews and can be used as a coaster when the tea is ready.

    Best glass mug infuser

    Tea Bloom VENICE® Double Wall Glass Mug with Infuser & Green Lid/Coaster

    VENICE® Double Wall Glass Mug with Infuser & Green Lid/Coaster – 15oz/430ml This sleek glass mug is made of double-walled borosilicate glass and contains a large fine-mesh stainless steel infuser. It is nice to be able to see your tea as it brews and if you are mostly making iced tea, this might be more appropriate to your needs.

    The silicone acts as a dual seal and keeps the tea warm inside while keeping the glass edges cool for easy lid removal and sipping. The lid also doubles as a trivet to hold the tea infuser when you remove it from your mug.

    Teabloom’s Venice Personal Tea Maker is stove-top safe, dishwasher safe and resistant to chemical corrosion. The perfect way to brew flowering tea, a purchase of this tea mug comes with two free tea flowers.

    Best ceramic travel infuser

    Teaspot Travel Tea Mugtea spot travel tea mug with infuser

    Pretty as well as practical, this is from their Steepware® range and contains a “Tuffy” steeper made of collapsable silicone rubber. The mug itself is double-walled ceramic which helps keep the tea hot while keeping your hands cool, with a large 16 oz (half a litre) capacity and a snug-fitting silicone lid. It won’t keep your tea hot for as long as the thermos-style described in the next section, but it will keep it hot for longer than an ordinary mug. Dishwasher safe and BPA-free.

    Best thermos-style travel infuser

    Contigo Stainless Steel West Loop Travel Mug and Tea Infuser (sold separately)

    If you’re a bit clumsy (like me) then a ceramic travel infuser, while looking very pretty, may not be the best choice. My mother-in-law bought me this “mug” with infuser eight years ago and it is still amazing. It is completely leak-proof and spill-proof: you can hold it upside down (not actually recommended) and won’t lose a drop. It’s a proper thermos flask so will keep your tea hot for up to five hours. You just press a button on the front to release the seal and drink through the lid.

    This is available in no less than 24 different colours and finishes and holds 16 oz (half a litre). The infuser basket is sold separately and is made of stainless steel with finely etched holes. It fits snugly into the mouth of the mug, has its own lid and is easy to remove. The whole thing is dishwasher safe and BPA free.

    Best bamboo flask infuser

    Tru Bamboo Insulated Tea Infuser/Flaskbamboo tea infuser

    With a 100% organic exterior this flask looks lovely and won’t feel cold on chilly winter days, unlike a stainless steel exterior. The interior of the flask is made from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel which is highly resistant to odours, stains, and bacteria and is really easy to keep clean.

    The stainless steel infuser screws into place in the top of the flask but is removable for cleaning – this can be put in the dishwasher although the flask itself needs to be washed by hand but that’s not a difficult task.

    It comes packaged in a plain brown cardboard box which can be recycled, which is a nice touch. So, no plastic, no chemical treatment, no BPA and is also certified to be lead-free.

    And it will keep your tea hot, properly hot, for a good twelve hours. Or, for the summer months, ice-cold if you prefer.

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14 thoughts on “Top tea infusers: updated November 2019”

  1. Loose tea tastes better than tea you buy in tea bags because they save the good tea for the loose leaf customer and put the leftovers in the bags. You need loose leaf tea to taste like real tea. Until now it has always been messy having to clean the leaves out of the tea pot but this article shows me that I can have other options for making tea. Very good information.

    Reply
  2. I love tea and I was thinking about getting a tea infuser.
    I’ve always relied on reviews for buying anything and this is no exception.
    It’s not always the best product if you have to spend the most money.
    And I agree that an infuser is much better than tea bags because they are indeed messier.
    I didn’t realize there were that many things to consider when getting an infuser.Thank you for a very detailed review.
    Just how long will these last?

    Reply
    • Hi Rob, thanks for your comments. I think the stainless steel infusers will have a very long life as long as they are cleaned properly and dried after use. I’m not so sure about the silicone ones though. I’ve used silicone ice cube trays for a while now and after about ten years they start to discolour and crack but of course they are going through multiple freeze-thaw cycles which probably puts them under a lot of stress. The other material which could have a durability issue is mugs or pots made from glass. Although they are made with heat-resistant glass, I am a clumsy person and would probably break them. 

      Reply
  3. Thanks for putting me through this whole lecture on what I can pay a lot for. I love tea so much ans it has always been advised of me by mum to always get tea infusers so I can get quality but I prefer it fast and as I want but it seems not too good and I am glad I’m learning about what I love taking which is Tea. One thing I just hate about Tea bags is the fact that they lack space and one can hardly pack as much flavour as one wants into a tea bag because, they kind of contain a lot of dust. Thanks for this helpful review.

    Reply
  4. Hi, Lisa.
    Your article on tea infusers is so yummy. I never knew there was so much of variety for the tea infuser. For a various variety of teas, there seems to be several different tea infusers. We at Asian subcontinent use to have brewing tea with milk and sugar and that tastes awesome. What is your view?
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

    Reply
    • Hi Gaurav Gaur, thanks for your comments. Here in the UK most people drink their tea with milk and some add sugar too. My preference is for black tea with neither milk or sugar but I’m really unusual – I think I’ve only ever met two other people who drink without milk or sugar. Interesting that in your country you also take it with milk and sugar, whereas in China it’s much more common to drink green tea and to drink it without milk or sugar. Thanks for your comments, Lisa

      Reply

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