• The Ultimate Guide to Tea Steepers and Infusers

The Ultimate Guide to Tea Steepers and Infusers

The Ultimate Guide to Tea Steepers and Infusers - Firebelly Tea

Enjoying a cup of tea can be as simple as dropping a tea bag into a cup of hot water. For others, it can be an elaborate art form like a Japanese tea ceremony. To brew tea using a steeper or infuser sits somewhere in the middle. Brewing tea takes patience, practice, and, of course, the right tools, like tea steepers and infusers, to bring out the full flavor of loose-leaf teas.

In this article, we'll explore the various types of tea steepers and infusers you can use to properly steep tea and give you a high-quality cup of tea. From tea balls to stainless steel mesh brewing infusers and everything in between, get ready to enjoy your very own tea ceremony from the comfort of your home.

What Is a Tea Infuser?

A tea infuser is a little kitchen gadget created to hold your favorite tea, like black tea, green tea, and herbal tea. These infusers and steepers are typically placed inside the teapot or tea cup or included as part of a travel mug.

Tea infusers go by several names, like tea balls, tea makers, tea steepers, and tea eggs. Originally made from bamboo, the tea steeper came from the Tang Dynasty in ancient China. Tea steeper designs didn't gain worldwide popularity until the early 19th century. Strainer companies like Tiffany and Gorham made fine quality and sturdy extra fine mesh metal infusers for those who could afford them.

Tea infusers are typically made from perforated or mesh material, and the most common materials used today are stainless steel or silicone due to their heat-resistant properties. Most common tea strainers and infusers available today are shaped like balls and have a small metal chain to remove them from a hot cup of water once the tea steeps and is brewed.

What's so Great About Tea Infusers?

Ask any tea lover, and they'll tell you they only use high-quality tea leaves to make an excellent cup of tea. One of the reasons they stand behind their choice of teas is because of the heavy processing that bagged tea goes through.

Tea Bags

Teas in tea bag form are typically processed much more than loose-leaf tea. One reason is because of packaging it to fit inside tea bags. Small pieces of tea leaves and dust usually make up the tea used in tea bags. It means that you'll typically have a lower-quality tea or even a bad tea that tastes more bitter than loose-leaf tea. Tea bag tea will also contain fewer important polyphenols and antioxidants that are good for overall health.

Loose Leaf Tea

Loose tea goes through less processing and contains more chemical compounds, flavonoids, polyphenols, and antioxidants, and it is a better tea overall. You'll get many health benefits when you use metal tea infusers to brew tea in leaf form, from better brain and heart health to weight loss and more. Getting all those benefits is about more than the best brewing process. 

If you have high-quality tea leaves, most tea infusers will give you a cup that packs a healthy punch! But not everyone agrees on brewing methods, and choosing a tea infuser can be quite an art.

How to Choose the Right Tea Infuser

Choosing the correct type of steeper or infuser may not seem a big deal. However, when it comes to the different types available, even experienced tea lovers can get confused.

Ask any tea master, and they might tell you that tea infusers prevent flavor release. Many prefer brewing only tea leaves without a tea steeper. As the tea starts to brew, they only use a strainer to remove the leaves from the hot water just before drinking. It is why some prefer an infuser with a larger mesh that allows more flavor to seep out.  

Choosing the perfect tea infuser boils down to preference. Just like you can choose from many teas, there are so many styles, shapes, and sizes of infusers available that it can be challenging to find the right one for your specific needs. Are you into iced tea? Perhaps you like to travel with your tea? Let's look at the types of tea infusers you can buy right now.

Types of Infusers

With all of the different styles of tea infusers available today, they all come with their own set of pros and cons. Let's take a look at some of the more popular styles of tea infusers and steepers and see which one will help you make your perfect cup of tea.

Tea Basket Infusers

Most tea masters prefer a steel mesh brewing basket tea infuser, and there's a good reason for that. These stainless steel mesh brewing infuser baskets are specially designed with a spacious and wide mesh to allow the tea leaves to expand and release all of the flavor and potential health benefits. Most infuser basket types will fit both cups and teapots. However, you may need a large basket infuser for larger pots.

Tea Balls

Like steel mesh brewing basket-style infusers, tea balls are another popular type of tea steeper. With a small and compact size, most people use them to brew one cup of tea. Typically made of fine mesh stainless steel, they come equipped with a long chain or handle to remove the tea ball once it has been properly steeped.

However, you'll have to look for ones with a wider mesh and an oval shape to let out all that great flavor. You'll also have to find a tea ball that is the right size for opening your teapot or cup. Most tea balls are dishwasher safe, but the steel will stain over time. But don't worry! You'll lift all the tea stains from the mesh with a bit of baking soda and vinegar.

Silicone Tea Infusers

Silicone tea infusers are similar in design to stainless tea balls. Instead of stainless steel, they are made of silicone but deliver the same flavor. Less rigid than stainless steel, silicone tea infusers quickly adapt to the shape of the cup or pot you place them in. You can also purchase silicone tea infusers in fun and creative shapes and colors, like a purple dolphin or a yellow owl, to brighten up your tea-drinking experience.

Silicone tea infusers do come with a few problems. Much like stainless steel balls, the tea will not steep properly if the mesh isn't large enough. Some tea drinkers even complain that silicone infusers can leave behind a slight plastic flavor. When choosing a silicone tea infuser, look for BPA-free ones to reduce the risk of releasing harmful chemicals into your beverage. Most brands of silicone tea infusers are dishwasher safe.

Travel Tea Mugs

Do you want to have tea anywhere at any time? Tea travel mugs have become popular in the US because they're so easy to use! You simply brew your favorite tea and bring it with you. With a similar design to a travel coffee mug, tea travel mugs are perfect for making a cup of loose-leaf tea on the go.

While some are stainless steel, others are ceramic mug style, and almost all types have an infuser built into the rim. With so many infuser mug styles to choose from, you'll easily find the one that suits your tea-traveling needs and style. Most infuser-style mugs are dishwasher safe, or you can clean them easily by hand with a bit of dish soap.

Infuser Teapots

Consider an infuser teapot if you drink more than one cup of tea daily or are an avid tea party host. Similar to the mugs, these teapots have a built-in infuser to create a beautiful brew for several tea drinkers all at once.

Infuser teapots come in several different styles and are made with several different materials like ceramic, clay, iron, glass, and porcelain, and most brands are dishwasher safe. When choosing an infuser teapot, look for one with a wide mesh to let out the most flavor and benefits. Most infuser teapots are also ideal for making a great iced tea!

French Press

French presses are typically used for making coffee, but you can also brew a lovely Earl Grey, Assam, or any loose tea you desire in one of them. Simply add the leaves to the bottom of the French Press and fill it up with recently boiled water.

Cover with the lid and steep according to the brewing instructions for the type of tea. When you're ready to pour your cup of tea, press the leaves to the bottom of the French Press using the lid. The tea leaves will stay at the bottom as you pour a nicely steeped cup of tea.

Whether you use a stainless steel tea infuser like a tea ball, an infuser basket, or an infuser teapot, the best tea begins with the best tea infusers.


Ask any tea lover what the best loose tea infusers to use are, and you'll get a different answer each time. The best way to find out which infuser is the right one you'll need for brewing loose-leaf tea types is to first look at the tea varieties you drink most often. Then look at your tea drinking habits - Do you drink a single cup daily or several cups throughout the day? Do you like to travel with a cup of hot tea? Or do you host tea parties?

Once you know the answers, choosing the right tea infuser is the first step to making your perfect cup of tea. Infuser mugs, silicone infusers, basket-shaped infusers, and tea ball infusers all have their merits. Regardless of which style of infuser you choose, a delicious cup is just a few loose leaves and some boiling water away! Put the tea kettle on; it's tea time!

You'll find some great strainers, steepers, and tea accessories here!

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