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.
We tested every tea infuser on this list firsthand to help you make the most informed buying decision possible. One of our expert food writers spent days evaluating and comparing the infusers right from his home, breaking down what he liked and disliked about each one. After testing, he rated the infusers on their durability, design, size, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
To take your tea game to the next level with the best infusers to buy, according to our tests.
Finum Stainless Steel Mesh Brewing Basket
Extra-fine mesh keeps leaves in
Plastic could be thicker
Tea leaves love space to roam around; the more room, the better flavor. That's why basket-shaped infusers are so popular and effective, perhaps none more so than the Finum Brewing Basket. It's large enough for tea leaves to diffuse into every nook and cranny of your mug, and its micro-fine mesh traps in the smallest tea particles. The mesh is even fine enough to brew coffee.
According to our tester, this tea infuser surpassed all expectations. He not only found it one of the easiest infusers to use, but also one of the best at keeping pesky tea leaves out of your drink. When brewing, all you have to do is scoop tea into the basket, place the basket in your mug, pour hot water, and wait. The Brewing Basket is also dishwasher safe for simple post-tea cleaning. The item is available in multiple sizes and colors, and the lid functions as a drip tray for added convenience. While it's not the downright cheapest infuser on the market, it's extremely affordable and our reviewer called it an excellent value for money.
Price at time of publish: $21
Quantity: One infuser | Material: Plastic and stainless steel mesh | Dimensions: 2.05 x 2.4 x 2.95 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"The plastic is sturdy, yet lightweight, and the mesh is strong enough that normal use won’t dent it or alter the shape. It's easily one of the best infusers I tested, if not the best, and worthwhile for both the casual or avid tea drinker."
House Again 4-Pack Extra Fine Mesh Tea Infusers
Fun design and colors
Comes with drip tray
Mesh keeps tea leaves out of drink
May not fully submerge
Silicone top takes time to seal
These infusers are topped with a delightful silicone flower or leaf to brighten up tea time. They are more than just adorable, however. After brewing several cups of two different tea varieties, our expert products tester found the infusers incredibly effective, easy to use, and a great value to boot. House Again sells them in a pack of four, so there's no rush to clean the same one after every use. Colors include pink, yellow, green, and blue.
Most importantly, the stainless steel infuser baskets successfully held in tea leaves throughout our testing process, even with very fine leaves and particles. Another nice feature is the handy silicone drip tray you can use after steeping to eliminate a potential mess. The main drawback, according to our reviewer, was that the silicone tops took longer than he would have liked to secure. It also felt precarious removing the infuser by the lid, but he did not encounter any spills.
Quantity: Four infusers | Material: Stainless steel and silicone | Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.1 x 1.8 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"The infuser baskets offer more than enough room for a single serving of tea, and the flower topper stayed cool to the touch when removing from my mug. I would recommend these to anyone looking for a pop of color or personality with their tea."
Tea Forte Kati Steeping Cup And Infuser
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 Steeping Cup. It's a favorite among tea lovers thanks to its beautiful design, quality construction, and great results. Many happy customers say they either received or gave the item as a gift, so keep that in mind for the next holiday or special occasion. Our reviewer echoed this thought, too, after seeing how pretty the item is in person.
The thick, double-walled ceramic keeps tea hot longer than many standard mugs will. Just watch out when grabbing. Our tester found the mug too hot to touch for a couple of minutes after he steeped rooibos tea in 212-degree water. When steeping sencha green tea around 170 degrees, however, the exterior stayed cool. The 12-ounce mug and matching lid are dishwasher- and microwave-safe, so it's easy to clean and reheat if needed. You can choose from a dozen designs, including the stunning cherry blossom model our tester picked, to fit your aesthetic or that of a gift recipient.
Price at time of publish: $20
Capacity: 12 ounces | Material: Ceramic mug and stainless steel infuser | Dimensions: 3.5 x 5.75 inches | Dishwasher safe: Yes (mug and lid only)
"A very small amount of sediment escaped from the infuser basket into my tea while steeping, but it wasn't enough to affect the drink. It was still delicious. I think this mug-and-infuser combo is an excellent product."
Adagio Teas Iced IngenuiTEA
Easy to use
Multiple sizes available
Makes hot or iced tea
Handle stays cool to the touch
Lid doesn't close automatically
Tea stains plastic
May leak after dispensing
Most tea infusers are designed to make one serving at a time, but is one cup ever really enough? Avid tea drinkers are better off with a product like the Adagio Teas ingenuiTEA Teapot. Available in 16 or 28 ounces, it has the same capacity as many traditional teapots, but is easier and faster to use.
We sent the 16-ounce model to one of our product testers to use at home, and he complimented the seamless bottom-dispensing valve, calling the ingenuiTEA unique overall. Once you have properly steeped your tea inside the main chamber, place the ingenuiTEA on your mug, gently press down, and tea will smoothly and automatically begin pouring.
The mesh stainless stainless at the bottom keeps any leaves whatsoever from ending up in the cup. Once finished, the item is dishwasher safe. Our reviewer added that it's easy to clean by hand, too, for those who don't have a dishwasher or just want to move onto the next round of tea right away.
Price at time of publish: $40
Capacity: 16 or 28 ounces | Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 3.5 x 6 inches (16-ounce model) | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"It’s slightly more expensive than the average tea ball or infuser basket, but it's well worth it. The ingenuiTEA is easier to use than most single-cup infusers, yields more tea, and produces wonderful flavor."
Vahdam Classic Tea Infuser
Plenty of space for tea leaves
Easy to use
Thumb grips stay cool
Lid may not properly close
Doesn't fit lids wider than 4 inches
With its extensive collection of teas and teaware, Vahdam is a go-to brand for many tea drinkers. One affordable accessory from the company we recommend is its Classic Tea Infuser. The basket-style infuser is large enough for a single serving of tea or a full teapot's worth, and our tester found it very dependable for keeping leaves out of his drink.
Despite the item's durability and quality stainless steel, it has a pervasive design flaw that our expert encountered during the testing process and saw multiple online reviewers mention: The lid, which also functions as a drip tray, may not fully close. This has no effect on the steeping process—the infuser still brews delicious tea, especially when you follow steps to enhance your tea tasting experience—but it's a curious and frustrating shortcoming. Aside from that, our tester gave the item a sparkling review. It's easy to use, the two little wings on either side of the basket stay cool to touch, and it's dishwasher safe, so cleaning is simple, too.
Price at time of publish: $10
Quantity: One infuser | Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 3 x 3.9 inches| Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"I would recommend this infuser to any tea drinker without hesitation if it weren't for the sealing issue with the lid. If the customer can overlook this flaw, they will be buying an otherwise stellar tea infuser. Plus, you don't even need to cover the tea while steeping and can use the lid solely as a drip tray."
Best Travel Mug
Firebelly Tea Stop-Infusion Travel Mug
Lets tea leaves steep openly
Solid, durable materials
Sleek aesthetic and multiple colorways
Must remove lid before drinking
What makes Firebelly Tea's Stop-Infusion Travel Mug so unique is that it allows users to brew delicious tea without an infuser. Instead, tea leaves steep openly inside the mug, which is much better for diffusion, and a tea press is inserted to stop the infusion process. It works more like a French press than a traditional infuser bottle, and the difference shines through in the flavor, whether you're making hot tea or iced.
We received the Stop-Infusion Travel Mug from the brand for testing purposes and found that each of the teas we brewed with it was strong and evenly diffused. The steel-and-plastic tea press, or plunger, is also extremely effective at tamping down loose tea leaves and ensuring sediment doesn't end up in any sips. The top of the tea press has a 360-degree vent that lets you drink from any side; it's a unique design that might take a moment to get used to, but sipping is smooth and drip-free. The lid needs to be removed before drinking, though, so you'll need two free hands to open it.
Another standout detail is the quality of the materials. We found the stainless steel to be hefty and durable, making the mug a trustworthy travel companion. The lid is leakproof too, so you can toss it in a bag when on the go. There are six color options, ranging from neutral tones to more vibrant options. Note that hand-washing is recommended; the tea press is easy to rinse by hand, but the mug itself requires a bottle brush to reach all nooks and crannies.
Price at time of publish: $40
Material: Stainless steel and Tritan | Dimensions: 3 x 8.5 inches | Dishwasher Safe: No
"I was really impressed with this infuser travel mug in a number of areas. Not only was the tea tastier than that of other models I've tested, but the filter kept tea leaves out of my mouth—an unpleasant shortcoming I came across with inferior infuser mugs. It also looks great and feels sturdy."
Best With Handle
Oxo Brew Twisting Tea Ball Infuser
Unique opening mechanism
Slim and stylish
Easy to clean
May need to stir for best diffusion
No drip tray
Infusers with handles offer a couple advantages over conventional tea balls: They are easier to control when steeping and 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. Our product tester called it a smooth and simple mechanism that sets the item apart from other handled infusers. Very small traces of tea leaves, more like fannings and tea dust, escaped from the basket during the testing process, which means the infuser did an excellent job overall in that regard. He was also a big fan 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.
Price at time of publish: $12
Quantity: One infuser | Material: Stainless steel and plastic | Dimensions: 1.6 x 1.6 x 7 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"While it isn’t the most spacious infuser, which tea experts say is preferable, it excels in every area: ease of use, ease of cleaning, and steeping tasty tea. All in all, it's a wonderful product."
Best With Drip Stand
AdHoc Tea Drop Tea Infuser
No mess and easy to clean
Plenty of space for tea leaves
Drip stand makes it presentable on countertop
Very small particles may get into tea
Not the best value
If you're looking for an infuser that avoids drips, spills, and messes, the AdHoc Tea Drop Tea Infuser is the place to start. After steeping, you can place the wand-style infuser into a plastic drip stand that collects any residual tea droplets. Both parts are dishwasher safe, and our expert found them easy to rinse and wash by hand for those who prefer that method. The drip stand is functional and stylish enough that you can leave the infuser on your countertop for quick access.
As far as its performance, the Tea Drop does not have the absolute finest infuser basket. Some small particles ended up in the mug after testing two tea varieties, but not so much that it marred the flavor or drinking experience. Our tester appreciated how large the infuser basket was because it gave the tea leaves space to evenly diffuse throughout the mug or teapot.
Make sure you don't fill your mug to the brim, though, as the infuser will cause the water level to rise when you dunk it in for steeping. In fact, the best way to brew is by placing the infuser in an empty mug and pouring hot water directly over it. The long, flexible handle then lets you stir the infuser until the tea reaches your desired strength.
Price at time of publish: $22
Quantity: One infuser | Material: Stainless steel and plastic | Dimensions: 8.46 x 2.2 inches without stand; 8.89 x 2.75 with stand | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"It's a bit overpriced, but it certainly won't break the bank. Overall, the AdHoc Tea Drop is a well-constructed infuser with multiple convenient touches, including its drip tray, large basket, and easy-to-secure clasp."
With its affordable price and unbeatable performance, the Finum Brewing Basket is the first place to look for a quality tea infuser, as basket-shaped infusers are widely preferred by tea experts and this is one of the best out there. We also love the convenient and adorable House Again Extra Fine Mesh Tea Infusers, especially if you're looking for a set instead of a single infuser.
How We Tested
We sent every tea infuser on this list, and more, to one of our expert food writers. He spent several days testing each one in his kitchen, comparing them to one another and rating them on their durability, design, size, ease of cleaning, and overall value. Throughout the process, he used two disparate teas to get the best sense of each infuser's performance: a rooibos tea with small particles and a sencha green tea, which had long, thin leaves. The former steeps for a long time with near-boiling water, while the latter steeps for a short time with only warm water. He prepared multiple cups of both tea varieties with every infuser.
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."
Other Options We Tested
- Fu Store Stainless Steel Tea Balls: A former version of this roundup named these infusers as the best budget pick. While they may be suitable for tea with large leaves, they couldn't contain either type of tea that we tested them with. Most of the leaves ended up in our reviewer's mug before steeping was finished. On top of that, the stainless steel clasp was difficult to close; it felt strained, almost rusty right out of the box. A final criticism is that the stainless steel chain fell into the mug almost immediately upon our tester's first use, and it was difficult to take the infuser out given the temperature of the tea. Overall, these only seem worthwhile if you know the tea you'll be drinking has large enough leaves to stay inside.
- Genuine Fred Manatea Tea Infuser: The Genuine Fred Manatea Infuser fell just short of being included on our list, mainly because its performance was inconsistent depending on the type of tea used. A green tea that we brewed had a lot of leaves slip through the filter and into the mug. The tea was drinkable and overall enjoyable, but the last few sips had too much sediment for our tester to finish the cup. Another minor shortcoming of the Manatea infuser is that its two silicone pieces are somewhat inconvenient to attach. While we can't fully recommend this infuser, some customers may enjoy its novelty aspect and could consider it as a gift idea. It just can't be counted on with every type of loose leaf tea.
- Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug with Tea Leaf Filter: This Zojirushi mug with a built-in infuser was previously included on our list as the best travel option. After testing it, however, we found it harder to use and clean than expected. For instance, the lid needs to be completely removed to take a sip, which makes the mug inconvenient while driving or walking. And the lid opening is too small to fit a hand inside of, so a bottle brush is needed to properly clean the mug, as it isn't dishwasher safe. Our tester felt it was easier to brew tea separately and pour it into a different travel mug than use the Zojirushi mug for a morning commute.
"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, Founder and CEO of Tea Drunk
What to Look for When Buying a Tea Infuser
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. Oolong, black, and green 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 and iced tea, 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.
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 varieties, like green tea and white tea, 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. For this piece, he tested every tea infuser on the list firsthand and wrote reviews about what he liked and disliked about each one. He also researched the differences between tea varietals and methods for brewing loose-leaf tea. Derek received an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and a BA in Communications from Marist College.
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.