There was a time not too long ago when I’d open the Best Tea Steeper, lift and lower one into a hot water cup, wait a few minutes, et voilà! I’d wrap my hands around a toasty mug and sip away, and all was right with the world.
Then I met and befriended a tea sommelier (yes, it’s a thing) named James Labe, a passionate and studied guy who skyrocketed to tea-world stardom at the dawn of the aughts, and my tea-drinking life forever changed.
Table of Contents
- What You Should Know About Tea Infusers
- Best Tea Steeper Brands
- 1. Finum Brewing Basket
- 2. OXO Good Grips Twisting Tea Ball
- 3. Finum Stainless Steel Mesh Brewing Basket
- 4. Finum Disposable Paper Tea Bags
- 5. House Again Extra Fine Mesh
- 6. Fu Store Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls
- 7. Fred & Friends Manatea
- 8. Adagio Teas ingenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot
- 9. Tea Forte Kati Single Cup Loose Tea Brewing System
- 10. Yoassi Extra Fine 18/8 Stainless Steel
- 11. Tilevo Dinosaur
- 12. HIC Snap Ball
- 13. OXO Brew Twisting Tea Ball
- 14. Chefast Tea Infuser Set
- 15. Forlife Brew-in-Mug Extra-fine Tea Infuser with Lid
- FAQs For Best Tea Infusers
What is a Tea Infuser?
Typically made of either stainless steel or silicone, a tea infuser holds loose leaves of tea, keeping them from floating around the hot water in your mug or Teapot while you brew. Dating back to the circa-760 A.D.
Tang dynasty in China, tea Steeper was first used to keep bugs out of Buddhist monks’ cups before 17th-century Dutch merchants began using them to keep leaves. The 19th century saw the most widespread adoption, especially in Europe, where tea balls were often made of silver.
Think of a tea Steeper as having the same basic functionality as a standard tea bag, except that tea Steeper is not discarded after use.
A tea infuser also provides the leaves more room to expand than traditional tea bags, which can mean a more robust flavor. Moreover, since tea infusers are sized for single-person use, users can steep their cup to their individual preferences to make a whole pot of tea for the group wouldn’t allow.
While exact instructions may vary by infuser and tea type, most tea Steepers are used in the same way. Fill the infuser with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dry tea leaves and place it in the mug. Pour warm water (exact temperature depends on the type of tea) over the infuser and let the leaves steep for the designated amount of time, typically 3 to 5 minutes, before removing.
Some tea Steeper benefit by a bit of dipping or swirling while you wait for the tea to steep or before you remove it, to ensure that the tea is evenly distributed throughout the mug.
The more leaves you use and the longer you steep, the stronger the tea will taste. Half the fun of drinking tea is discovering your personal preferences to enjoy sipping something made just for you.
See also: Top 23 Best Teapot Review 2021
Best Tea Steeper Brands
1. Finum Brewing Basket
The more space your tea leaves have to roam, the better your brew will taste. The large Finum Brewing Basket is the very best tea Infusers you can buy if you want a versatile, roomy steeper for your tea.
Although it has a plastic frame, the mesh is made of stainless steel, and it’s so subtle that nary a tea leaf will escape into your teacup or Teapot. The plastic frame is heat resistant, so you won’t burn your fingers when you lift the basket out of the mug or Teapot. You can flip over the plastic lid to make it into a tray to hold the brewing basket when your tea is made brewing.
The large Brewing Basket’s plastic arms allow it to fit inside any mug that’s 2.8 to 4 inches wide, and it’s tall enough to stand up in shorter mugs or teacups at just under 4 inches. The company also makes a medium-sized one that’s a bit smaller to fit cups 2.3 to 3.5 inches wide.
The fact that it’s easy to clean and its low price point are other big draws.
Some tea purists argue that plastic changes the tea’s taste or bad for you — even if it’s BPA free — but experts say plastic isn’t a problem. Opinions are divided on vinyl versus metal tea Steepers’ merits, but we don’t imagine it will make a massive difference to most people. If it does, try one of our other picks from the slides below. This is the best tea infuser for loose tea.
Pros: Lots of room for the tea to brew, mesh doesn’t allow tea leaves to escape, fits in most mugs, comes in two sizes, you won’t burn your hands when you pull out the basket by the plastic rim
Cons: Plastic sides and rim may deter some
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2. OXO Good Grips Twisting Tea Ball
Tea purists say you need more space to brew your tea properly, but sometimes a ball infuser is easier for a single teacup. The OXO Good Grips Twisting Tea Ball is the best loose leaf tea infuser for people on a budget who are just making tea for themselves.
It’s a brilliant design that turns your tea Steeper into a tea scoop as well. With a twist of the long handle’s rubbery end, the stainless steel ball splits in two, and one half of the ball rolls back to make a tea scoop. You scoop up your tea, close the shot, and drop it in your cup of tea with the warm water. It’s effortless and requires no fuss.
The ball infuser has perfectly sized holes that don’t let big tea leaves through. You may find a few stray leaves in your cup now and then, though.
Although the Twisting Tea Ball is small, the leaves will still have space to move and expand with the water if you don’t pack too much tea. If you have lovely tea with many small particles, you may have some left in your cup. OXO says it’s best used with whole leaf teas and tea pearls.
When you’re done brewing your tea, you take it out, open it with a twist, and toss out the leaves. A simple rinse later, and you’re done. I own two of these Twisting Tea Balls, and they’re great. When I don’t want a full pot of tea, I pop one in my mug. Sometimes a leaf or some tea particles get into the cup, but it isn’t essential.
Pros: Easy to use, long handle for easy extraction, almost no tea escapes, sturdy tool, affordable price
Cons: Small area for tea to brew
3. Finum Stainless Steel Mesh Brewing Basket
The Finum Stainless Steel Mesh Brewing Basket took home the gold in my test and many other tea steeper rankings I found online. It’s above, and beyond the best loose tea infuser I have ever used, and it checked off every box of my tea-brewing needs. It fit well into multiple mug sizes and had a shape and size that allowed water and tea leaves to mingle with great fluidity.
Regardless of which type of tea I used, from extremely fine-cut tulsi tea leaves to full blooming flowers, like chrysanthemum—the Finum was the only non-bag steeper I tested that kept leaves and sediment, no matter how small, from leaking into my cup.
Constructed of sturdy micro-mesh stainless steel and a heat-tolerant BPA-free plastic frame, the Finum basket steeper is offered in medium and large sizes that fit cups and mugs as teapots and thermoses.
It comes with a lid that thoroughly covers the steeper and acts as a lid for the tea-making vessel, so my tea stayed hot and aromatic while it steeped. After brewing, the top flips over to become a handy holder for the steeper to rest in as it cools.
After brewing my tea, I gently tapped the steeper on my compost bucket side, and my spent tea leaves dropped into the bucket with ease.
I mostly cleaned this steeper with a rinse under warm running water and quick air-dry, but also gave it a run through the dishwasher and tried a light scrub with a little drop of dish soap when I felt that it needed a deeper cleaning. All three cleaning methods were comfortable and worked flawlessly.
At suggested retail prices of $11 for the medium and $13 for the large, this tea steeper was the lowest-priced basket steeper among my contenders. It was among the most affordable of all the steeper types I tested overall.
4. Finum Disposable Paper Tea Bags
For the best loose leaf tea steeper to take on the go (think: air, car, and boat travel, and take camping, on overnights, and to the office or school), Finum Disposable Paper won my vote hands down.
Though these steeping bags are a single-use product, they are made of biodegradable, Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, and right along with your spent tea leaves, they can be tossed into your compost bucket.
Finum paper teabags were easy to fill and well constructed; their glue-free edges stayed firmly sealed during and after use. The small size (which Finum calls ‘slim’) was perfect for making a single tea mug. It had an excellent wide opening that made the bag easy to fill without tea leaf spillage and was both thin and roomy enough to allow water and tea leaves to mingle well.
Its gusseted bottom flared out when filled, which also helped provide ample room for leaves and water to interact. The top flap folded neatly over my mug’s edge, which kept the bag closed and made it easy to pull from my cup once my tea was ready to drink.
While the paper filter doesn’t offer a lid, I could easily cover my mug to keep my tea hot and aromatic while it steeped. I folded the flap over a couple of times to take these bags on the go, then tucked the filled tea bag into a small sealable container.
Finum bags are made in Germany and come in six sizes. They’re primarily offered in a chlorine-free oxygen bleached option (a process considered safer for use than chlorine-bleached).
The company says the large size is ideal for pots and is offered in both the chlorine-bleached and an unbleached natural material. I found that my tea tasted cleaner with the chlorine-free oxygen-bleached tea bags.
5. House Again Extra Fine Mesh
These tea infusers are adorable, but they’re also instrumental, easy to use, and much valued. The House Again Extra Fine Mesh comes in packs of four and are topped with delightful flowers that set the mood for tea time.
The infusers are made from food-grade silicone and have a stainless steel body. The mesh is extra fine, so no particles will get into your tea, no matter how finely ground the leaves are.
Another cool feature is that the flower stem can hook over your mug’s edge, letting you hang it on cups of various sizes. To top it off, each infuser includes a handy silicone drip tray to place it on after steeping, eliminating a potential mess. Additionally, users note that the product is easy to load with tea and that the drip tray is a welcome addition.
6. Fu Store Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls
For a no-frills tea infuser that comes at an unbeatable price, you need the Fu Store Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls. This two-pack of tea Steeper has a basic design, but they’ll get the job done without hurting your wallet.
The tea balls are made from stainless steel resistant to rust and scratches, so they’ll help you brew tea for years to come. Fill the ball with your favorite loose leaf teas, then clasp it shut. It hangs on the edge of your mug using the included chain and hook. The drawback is that this infuser isn’t suitable for small tea, as the mesh isn’t excellent.
Users say this product is a good, basic tea Steeper with a tight seal that keeps the leaves from escaping into your drink. However, many echo the warning that you shouldn’t use delicate tea leaves in the balls, as you’ll end up with particles floating in your tea.
7. Fred & Friends Manatea
If you want a tea Steeper that’s as cute as it is functional, you need the Fred & Friends Manatee. This novelty item is punny and merely adorable, making it an excellent gift for your favorite tea lover.
This tea Steeper is shaped like a cute manatee and made of silicone. Pop off the head to load it with loose leaf tea—the body has holes that will infuse it into the hot warm. Plus, the manatee’s arms can be hooked over your mug’s edge to hold the infuser in place. After you brew your tea, empty the infuser and put it in the dishwasher for cleaning.
Fred & Friends Manatee works well, easily stays put on the edge of the mug, and looks cute while doing so! However, it’s not a good option for delicate tea leaves, as the holes may let small particles filter through.
8. Adagio Teas ingenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot
Most tea infusers are designed to make one serving at a time. If you want to make larger pots of tea, you’re better off with a product like the Adagio Teas ingenuity Bottom-Dispensing Teapot. This isn’t your grandmother’s Teapot! Its unique design makes it perfect for steeping tea for two.
The ingenuity Teapot is made of high-quality, BPA-free plastic and can hold up to 16 ounces of liquid. There’s also a 28-ounce version available if you want to make even more tea.
To use this Teapot, place loose tea and warm water in the container. When you’re ready to serve, place the pot on top of a cup and press down.
The pot’s release valve allows the tea to flow through the integrated filter, preventing any leaves from getting into your mug. It’s also dishwasher safe, so cleaning up is a breeze. It sounds like this product brings you closer to the perfect cup of tea every time.
9. Tea Forte Kati Single Cup Loose Tea Brewing System
If you’re in the market for a new favorite cup of tea that includes an infuser, consider the Tea Forte Kati Single Cup Loose Tea Brewing System. Thanks to its beautiful design, quality construction, and excellent results, it is a favorite among tea lovers.
Many happy customers say they either received or gave this item as a gift, so keep that in mind for the next holiday or special occasion or check out some of our other favorite tea lovers’ tips.
With this brewing system, you get a 12-ounce ceramic cup with a contemporary design, a stainless steel infuser basket that hooks onto the container, and a matching lid.
The bowl’s double-walled design keeps the tea warm for longer, and the infuser is made of a fine mesh that’s compatible with many types of tea. The cup is also microwave and dishwasher safe, so it’s easy to clean and reheat. You can choose from a dozen beautiful designs, finding an aesthetic that’s perfect for your taste.
Buyers comment that it’s high-quality, easy-to-use, and helpful when you’re on the go. They also write that the strainer is sufficient enough to keep tea leaves out of your drink and can’t beat the look.
10. Yoassi Extra Fine 18/8 Stainless Steel
Whether it’s raining outside or needing a giant cup of tea to kick-start your morning, some days call for an oversized mug. And on those days, we recommend you reach for the Yossi.
A more traditional stainless steel tea Steeper, the Yoassi offers a large basket to hold enough tea leaves to flavor even the most giant mug of warm water or allow for an extra-strong cup for that boost of caffeine.
The Yoassi’s arms are wide enough to fit across our 16-ounce tasting mug easily and likely work on one with an even bigger mouth.
The tea steeps quickly and evenly without needing much prodding. And when the tea is steeped to your liking, the Yoassi’s dish (which fits snugly as a lid when not in use) can hold your dripping infuser until you’re ready to clean it or make a second cup with the leaves. Just be careful when you’re removing it—the metal arms get surprisingly hot to the touch after steeping.
And speaking of cleaning, the Yoassi is about as straight-forward as tea infusers come. Leaves come out quickly, and the mouth is wide enough to fit a sponge when washing by hand. If the Yoassi were a bit smaller to use with more standard mugs, we might have named this our top pick, but instead, we’ll enjoy breaking it out on those days when we need a little something extra.
- Steeps tea evenly
- Easy to clean
- Fits a variety of mugs
- Metal arms get hot to the touch.
11. Tilevo Dinosaur
The ability to easily clean a tea Steeper was one of our main criteria for testing. Whether at home or the office, no one wants to hunch over the trash can picking out stubborn leaves from tiny holes. That’s where the Tilevo shined against the competition. Made of silicone and designed with a wide opening in the dinosaur’s body, leaves generally came out in one clean clump.
The diffuser was also enjoyable to use in that it stands on its own at the bottom of your mug, its long neck bringing its head just above water level. While you may want to dip it a few times to keep steeped tea from concentrating at the bottom of the mug, it can provide a pleasant flavor throughout. A few bits of leaves may escape, but it’s minimal and not enough to impede drinkability.
When you’re finished steeping, you will need a dish or paper towel to keep the Tilevo from leaking since it doesn’t come with one. But once it’s dry, you can skip storing it in a drawer or cabinet and let it stand on its own, working well as a conversation piece for your desk or countertop.
- Easy to clean
- Attractive conversation piece
- Doesn’t contain a dish for drips
12. HIC Snap Ball
Full disclosure: I’ve used the Harold Import Co. tea Steeper for years in my own life. I’ve always had a pleasant time using it—it’s small enough to fit any mug, and it disperses tea quickly and evenly throughout. (One minor hitch: If even a small leaf gets between the two halves of the ball, others can sneak out.) But I was still curious to see how it would stand up to the other tea infusers we tested.
Mine has looked a little worse for the wear for as long as I can remember, it’s delicate mesh denting from what I thought was too many washings. But after just two uses of the new one I used for testing, the mesh was already slightly dented. It doesn’t impede performance as far as steeping goes, but it’s a bit disappointing.
It’s a solid choice for anyone looking for a simple tea Steeper that’s a breeze to clean. Squeeze to open the hinge and watch all the leaves fall into the garbage. Just be careful with the scrubbing.
- Disperses tea quickly and evenly
- Easy to empty leaves
- Easy to store
- Mesh is delicate and prone to dents.
13. OXO Brew Twisting Tea Ball
I was immediately intrigued by the OXO Good Grips tea Steeper’s functionality, twisting the end of the handle and watching the ball open and close with a satisfying heft. In practice, however, this proved to be the most frustrating part of the experience.
This is not to say the twisting itself doesn’t work; it certainly does, but the movement traps tea leaves between its two halves, making cleaning a pain.
This design also made this infuser the only one that let whole leaves escape, likely from being caught between the mini cups while they were in the open position. During one test, enough leaves floated to the top that I stopped drinking it altogether.
If you’re incredibly thorough with your cleaning, this may not be the wrong choice. I enjoyed how little space it occupied in the mug, and since I tend to leave my tea steeping as I drink, I could still sip easily around it. Also, for all its moving parts, it felt sturdy and well-made.
- Feels sturdy and durable
- Allows leaves to escape
- Twisting traps leaves during cleaning.
14. Chefast Tea Infuser Set
My favorite part of the Chefast sold in a set with one large and two small infusers was the combo scoop/bag clip included.
While not a part of any testing criteria, that scoop came in handy throughout testing for scooping tea into all of our infusers. It was the single-most talked-about piece from colleagues passing by, even while sharing the company of silicone dinosaurs and manatees.
That being said, I was less excited to use the Chefast infuser itself. I tested using a big mug, so I opted for the large infuser. While it held a fair amount of tea and kept leaves from getting into the water, it took a while (and plenty of dipping it up and down on my end) to get it steep enough.
In terms of design, the lid’s chain was about double the length it needed to be, rendering the hook at the other end useless. And clicking the top into the basket didn’t feel as sturdy as I’d hope, making me wonder how durable this would be over many uses.
Sold separately, I’d purchase the bag clip scoop in an instant. But as a tea infuser alone? There are better ones out there.
- Included scoop/clip is handy
- Takes a while to steep
- Feels cheaply made
- The chain isn’t functional
15. Forlife Brew-in-Mug Extra-fine Tea Infuser with Lid
The Forlife was one of the more frustrating to use. Unlike the Yoassi (and most other similar-looking tea infusers on the market), the Forlife infuser only has one arm to hold it atop the mug, leaving you to balance a much thinner lip on the other side.
Move it just so, and that side falls into the water. While it never let any leaves escape, it seemed like such an unnecessary problem to have. I even tried it in a smaller mug, but at that point, it stood too tall to fit properly.
On the plus side, when the infuser balances properly, it works well to disperse tea throughout and contain leaves—and it comes with a dish to catch drips upon removal. It’s also large enough to fit a sponge into fairly easily for cleaning (even if leaves did get more stuck in the holes than I would’ve liked). But for being the most expensive tea infuser we tested, it was a letdown.
- Contains leaves well
- Easy to clean
- Falls into the water often
FAQs For Best Tea Infusers
To use a tea infuser, start by putting 1 to 2 teaspoons of loose tea into the infuser. Then, place the infuser in your mug and pour hot water over it. Next, wait 2 minutes for the tea to steep before removing the infuser from the cup. Finally, discard the brew and rinse out the infuser.
The first thing that you should know is that it’s OK to reuse teabags. The drawback is that after the first cup, you lose flavor and strength. But if you enjoy strong tea, there is a way to reuse your teabags. A tea bag can be reused one or two times.
Use a travel thermos.
Our double-walled glass option insulates your brew to keep your tea hot and your hands cold. Use the removable infuser basket to steep any loose leaf tea found on your travels, or drop the leaves below the basket to strain the brew into a mug or serving pitcher.
To make loose-leaf tea, use one teaspoon of leaves for each cup of water plus “one for the teapot.” Of course, the outcome will be determined by how healthy the tea leaves are and how much hot water the tea is steeping in. You’ll probably want to experiment to find the right flavor for you.
Last update on 2021-01-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API