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Best Overall: House Again Extra Fine Mesh Tea Infuser at Amazon
"Not only are these tea infusers adorable, but they’re also easy to use."
Best Budget: Fu Store Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls at Amazon
"These tiny infusers will get the job done without hurting your wallet."
"Many happy customers say they either received or gave this item as a gift."
Best Teapot: Adagio Teas ingenuiTEA at Amazon
"It's made of high-quality plastic and can hold up to 16 ounces."
Best Basket: Finum Brewing Basket at Amazon
"The micro-fine mesh ensures that no tea leaves escape into your cup."
Best Design: Fred & Friends Manatea Tea Infuser at Amazon
"This novelty infuser is cute and functional."
Best for Travel: Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug with Tea Leaf Filter at Amazon
"The Zojirushi mug is 100 percent leak-proof and it keeps drinks hot for several hours."
Best with Handle: OXO Brew Twisting Tea Ball Infuser at Amazon
"Its most notable feature is the simple twisting handle that opens the infuser."
Every cup of tea starts with a simple decision between tea bags and loose leaf. Many people instinctively choose tea bags because they are quick, convenient, and easy to find in the grocery store. But the right tea infuser makes preparing a cup of loose leaf just as easy as bagged tea, and even more delicious. Infusers are typically made of mesh stainless steel, but there are many unique options (including ones on this list) that can add a personal touch to each and every sip.
To take your tea game to the next level, here are the best infusers to buy.
Best Overall: House Again Extra Fine Mesh Tea Infuser
Fun colors and designs
Comes with drip tray
May not fully submerge
Not sold individually
Not only are these tea infusers adorable, they’re also incredibly effective, easy to use, and a great value. The House Again Extra Fine Mesh Tea Infusers come 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 the edge of your mug, 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 you’re done 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.
Quantity: Four infusers | Material: Stainless steel and silicone | Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.1 x 1.8 inches
Best Budget: Fu Store Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls
Includes two infusers
Easy to clean
Some tea leaves get through
Mesh can bend
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 infusers has a basic design, but they’ll get the job done without hurting your wallet.
The tea balls are made from stainless steel that’s resistant to rust and scratches, so they’ll help you brew tea for years to come. Simply fill the ball with your favorite loose leaf tea, 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 very fine.
Users say this product is a good, basic tea infuser with a tight seal that keeps the leaves from escaping into your drink. However, many echo the warning that you shouldn’t use fine tea leaves in the balls, as you’ll end up with particles floating in your tea.
Quantity: Two infusers | Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 4.72 x 1.18 x 2.36 inches
"These are far from the best infusers out there—they're too small to diffuse evenly yet the holes are too large for certain teas—but the budget price makes them a worthwhile option for people getting into loose-leaf tea for the first time." — Derek Rose, Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best Cup: Tea Forte Kati Single Cup Loose Tea Brewing System
No leaves spill into cup
Fits in most cupholders
Gets hot to touch
Ceramic is breakable
If you’re in the market for a new favorite teacup that includes an infuser, consider the Tea Forte Kati Single Cup Loose Tea Brewing System. It is a favorite among tea lovers thanks to its beautiful design, quality construction, and great results. 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.
With this brewing system, you get a 12-ounce ceramic cup with a contemporary design, a stainless steel infuser basket that hooks onto the cup, and a matching lid. The double-walled design of the cup 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 if needed. You can choose from a dozen beautiful designs, finding an aesthetic that suits 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 fine enough to keep tea leaves out of your drink and that you simply can’t beat the look.
Capacity: 12 ounces | Material: Ceramic mug and stainless steel infuser | Dimensions: 3.5 x 5.75 inches
According to Shunan Teng, the founder and CEO of Tea Drunk, one tip for making better tea at home is to use hotter water for high-quality tea and lower-temperature water for subpar tea. "Hotter temperatures bring out the flavors in better tea," she says, "and lower temperatures dilute the flaws in lower-quality tea. With bad tea, the bitterness and astringency would come out with higher temperatures."
Best Teapot: Adagio Teas ingenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot
Makes hot and iced tea
Multiple sizes available
Prone to leaking
Tea stains plastic
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 ingenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot. Its unique design makes it great for steeping tea for two.
The ingenuiTEA Teapot is made of high-quality 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, simply place loose tea and hot 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.
Capacity: 16 or 28 ounces | Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 4.5 x 7 inches (28-ounce model)
Best Basket: Finum Brewing Basket
Tea leaves cling to mesh
Basket-shaped infusers are especially good at getting flavor into every nook and cranny of your mug. There are many excellent options in this category but one of the absolute best, as well as one of the most unique, is the Finum Brewing Basket. What really sets the item apart is its micro-fine mesh, which traps in even the smallest tea particles much better than standard stainless steel filter baskets. Its mesh is even fine enough to brew coffee!
The Finum Brewing Basket is super easy to use—simply scoop tea into the basket, place it in your mug, pour hot water, and wait. It's also dishwasher safe for quick post-tea cleaning. The item is available in multiple sizes and colors and even comes with its own drip tray for added convenience.
Quantity: One infuser | Material: Plastic and stainless steel mesh | Dimensions: 2.05 x 2.4 x 2.95 inches
"Perhaps the easiest way to spot an effective infuser is by its size. Large infusers like the Finum Brewing Basket typically lead to a better cup because they allow tea leaves space to evenly diffuse throughout the entire mug." — Derek Rose, Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best Design: Fred & Friends Manatea Tea Infuser
Stays on cup well
Dishwasher and microwave-safe
Good gift idea
Not the strongest infuser
Plastic smell when first using
If you want a tea infuser that’s as cute as it is functional, you need the Fred & Friends Manatea Tea Infuser. This novelty item is punny and simply adorable, making it a great gift for your favorite tea lover.
This tea infuser is shaped like a cute manatee and made of silicone. Simply pop off the head to load it with loose leaf tea—the body has holes that will infuse the tea into the hot water. Plus, the manatee’s arms can be hooked over the edge of your mug to hold the infuser in place. After you brew your tea, simply empty the infuser and put it in the dishwasher for cleaning.
Fred & Friends Manatea Tea Infuser 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 fine tea leaves, as the holes may let small particles filter through.
Quantity: One infuser | Material: Silicone | Dimensions: 3 x 4.5 x 1.5 inches
"Mistakes with brewing tea usually involve time, temperature, or water-to-tea ratio. This means brewing for too long or too short; using an incorrect temperature; or using too much or too little tea. Being mindful of all three factors will help people develop their tea-brewing techniques." — Shunan Teng
Best for Travel: Zojirushi Stainless Mug with Tea Leaf Filter
Solid temperature retention
Not the easiest to clean
For a tea infuser that will serve you well during all your travels, a great choice is the Zojirushi Stainless Mug with Tea Leaf Filter. It can keep beverages hot or cold up to six hours long—wonderful for the summer months when you're craving iced tea. The exterior is made of high-quality stainless steel that customers say is extremely durable. If sealed properly, the mug is 100 percent leak proof. On top of that, it's available in two different sizes and two color options. The best part is that the tumbler comes with a built-in tea infuser that's attached to the lid, though keep in mind that the infuser is fairly small. To use, add loose tea leaves to the infuser, place the infuser into the mug, and then pour water over the tea leaves.
Capacity: 11 or 16 ounces | Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 2.625 x 2.625 x 8.5 inches
Best with Handle: OXO Brew Twisting Tea Ball Infuser
Unique opening mechanism
Holes too large for some teas
Infusers with handles offer a couple advantages over conventional tea balls: they are easier to control when steeping and are less likely to make a mess. The OXO Brew Twisting Tea Ball Infuser is our top pick in the category because it takes these advantages and adds a few unique touches of its own. Most notable is the twisting handle that opens and closes the infuser ball. It's a smooth and simple mechanism that sets the item apart from other handled infusers. We're also big fans of the sleek and elegant design, accented by the black handle.
Many tea infusers can be purchased at a cheaper price, but the OXO model is affordable nonetheless. Plus, it's made from sturdy stainless steel and non-slip plastic. OXO backs all of its products with a lifetime guarantee.
Quantity: One infuser | Material: Stainless steel and plastic | Dimensions: 1.6 x 1.6 x 7 inches
We love the House Again Extra Fine Mesh Tea Infusers (view at Amazon) because they blend convenience with an adorable design. The silicon flower toppers add a little character to your tea while simultaneously making it easier to lift in and out of your drink. On the other hand, those interested in a more discreet option will enjoy Fu Store's Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Balls (view at Amazon).
What to Look for When Buying a Tea Infuser
By Derek Rose
The more space that tea leaves have to roam around inside the cup or pot while steeping, the better. This means large infusers are superior to small ones, as they disperse the flavors more evenly throughout the water. If possible, look for an infuser with a basket shape that fills up your entire mug. Does this mean tea balls are too small be effective? Nope! Even small tea balls produce a better result than most tea bags, since bagged tea is all too often filled with low-quality dust, fannings, and broken leaves. Those looking for a teapot with a built-in infuser can follow the same rule of thumb: a larger infuser likely means more flavor. Of course, the best way to brew tea would be for the leaves to swirl around freely and then be strained after steeping, but that is a messier and more time-consuming process than using an infuser.
When searching for tea infusers you will quickly see that they come in a number of different styles. Each one has its own pros and cons. This topic is covered in greater detail below, but here is a quick breakdown. Tea balls are the most common style. They are usually crafted from mesh stainless steel and attached to either a chain or handle for easier usage. Another popular style is the filter basket, a larger option that can be made for either a single cup or a full teapot. Other styles include: tea sticks, portable infusers, novelty infusers, and more.
Ease of Use
One reason tea drinkers may hesitate to switch to infusers is that tea bags are so convenient. No one wants to spend extra time brewing and cleaning up afterward, especially if they drink several cups a day. However, there are actually many tea infusers that are extremely easy to use and dishwasher safe. To get a sense of an item’s ease of use, see how it opens, closes, and seals shut. As a quick tip, infusers with silicone parts are often more rigorous to put together than simple tea balls and filter baskets.
Along with the actual size of a tea infuser, it’s also worth paying attention to the size of an infuser’s holes. Some loose leaf teas are fine enough to slip through larger holes, clogging up each sip and rendering the infuser entirely useless. For those who prefer a specific kind of tea, think about whether the pieces are on the larger side or finer side and it will be easier to select the right infuser for you. Green, oolong, and black teas tend to contain larger leaves, while red and herbal teas often have smaller bits. As far as infusers go, tea balls generally have smaller mesh holes, while infuser eggs and silicone infusers have larger ones.
Types of Tea Infusers
Tea balls are the most common type of infuser, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they brew the most flavorful tea. Many are very small and may not diffuse as thoroughly as a basket infuser, for instance, so keep that in mind when searching. Tea balls are usually made from mesh stainless steel and open in half via a clasp. They are often attached to chains or handles (the latter are sometimes called “tea pincers”) to make them easier to use. Infuser eggs, an ovular and slightly larger alternative, can also be sorted into this category.
Whether they are meant for a single cup or a full teapot, infuser baskets are a simple and efficient brewing method. Look for ones that take up as much space as possible, as this will allow the tea to diffuse evenly throughout the water. Most have handles or arms that help them rest on top of your mug, while others fully submerge into the water. Another small difference to pay attention to is if it has a lid that also functions as a drip tray, as this is an especially handy feature. Expect infuser baskets to be more expensive than tea balls but still extremely affordable.
Many travel mugs today come with infusers for delicious tea on the go. The infusers themselves are typically basket style, but they are specially designed for the mug’s dimensions. The brewing process, which can be done for both hot tea and iced, is no different than standard models: simply fill the infuser, pour the water, and steep for the tea’s ideal length of time.
Compact and elegant, tea sticks are an excellent option for those interested in a sleeker aesthetic. They are not always the easiest to fill, since they are so slim, but are just as affordable as other types of infusers. The slim design can also make them less powerful than large infusers, so be sure to stir the stick around in your mug for a more thorough diffusion.
Fred is a Rhode Island-based brand that manufactures everything from games to gadgets, all with a quirky spin. The company is perhaps best known for its array of themed silicone tea infusers. The largely animal-focused items are a fun way to add personality to your cup. You can find the infusers at an affordable price and shaped like sloths, koalas, whales, and more.
Harold Import Co.
Harold Import Co., commonly abbreviated as HIC, is a name worth checking out for all sorts of tea needs. It offers everything from teapots to cup-and-saucer sets to, of course, infusers. The company manufactures more than a dozen infuser options, most of which are designed from stainless steel. And the brand certainly emphasizes variety. There are tea balls, egg infusers, infuser baskets, and even novelty infusers shaped like animals and fun objects.
Home to a wide variety of kitchen gadgets, OXO makes a couple tea infusers worth checking out. One is a nifty tea ball that can be opened and closed via a twistable plastic handle; the other is an infuser basket well-suited for your favorite mug. Both are affordably priced, as are many other OXO products. The American company also manufactures several highly reviewed tea kettles in both stovetop and electric varieties.
Perhaps the best part about buying an infuser, aside from getting tasty tea, is how easy they are to use and clean. Now, the exact instructions depend on the type of infuser, but the basic steps are this: first, fill the infuser with 1 teaspoon of tea for every 6 to 8 ounces of water; second, put the infuser into your cup or teapot (some require the water to be poured before the infuser is in place, some after); finally, let the tea steep for the recommended time and then remove the infuser before drinking. That’s it. Quick, easy, delicious. The recommended water temperature and steep time are based on the type of tea you use, not the infuser. Lighter teas like green and white are best brewed with lower temperatures and less time, while black, herbal, and rooibos require hotter water and more steeping time.
Once finished with your tea, dump the leftover leaves into the trash or compost (unless you plan on reusing them) and rinse the infuser with water. If smaller tea bits cling to the infuser, remove them with an appropriate brush and some dish soap. Many tea infusers are dishwasher safe, which makes the process even easier, so check for this before purchasing. Don't worry if your infuser stains over time. This is completely normal. However, there are several ways to remove stains and slow down the staining process for those who are interested, from cleaning with vinegar, alcohol, or baking soda and even holding stainless steel infusers over gas flames to burn off residue.
Are infusers different from strainers?
Yes, tea infusers and tea strainers are different tools with different purposes. Tea infusers are a brewing device that is used from start to finish while making a cup of tea. Strainers, on the other hand, come into play after tea is finished brewing. Their sole purpose is to separate tea leaves from the tea, typically accomplished by pouring a teapot over the strainer and into either a mug or another teapot. Many brands and websites use the terms interchangeably even though infusers and strainers are different.
How much tea do I use when brewing?
This question pops up often with tea infusers, especially when people switch over from tea bags. While specific measurements vary depending on the type of tea used, the general rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of loose tea for every 6 to 8 ounces of water. Adding more tea will lead to a stronger flavor, as will steeping for a longer amount of time. Too much of an extreme for either will lead to an overly bitter cup of tea, however, so keep that in mind when brewing.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This piece was written by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. Derek received an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and a BA in Communications from Marist College. For this piece, he researched the differences between tea varietals and methods for brewing loose-leaf tea.
Shunan Teng is the founder and CEO of Tea Drunk and an avid tea educator. Tea Drunk was founded in 2013 and has a brick-and-mortar tea house in New York City. Its teaware and Chinese teas can be purchased online.