Tea infusers are a favorite among tea-lovers. They're a perfect addition to the tea-preparation process (for loose leaf teas), making it easier and eco friendlier at the same time. Tea infusers are small, perforated/mesh like containers that can hold tea leaves in them, acting essentially like a re-usable and customizable teabag. They're perfect for preparing both hot and cold tea-based drinks, and also come with a few benefits over tea bags which we'll discuss in this blog!
Why You Should Use a Tea Infuser
There's a list of reasons why using a tea infuser is a good idea - especially if you're someone who prefers loose leaf tea.
Let's begin with the two main ones: Personalization and Reusability. If you're someone who likes to have control over how strong or light your tea is, and the usual tea bag serving size just doesn't suit your tastes, an infuser is perfect for you. You get to measure just how much tea to put to get the perfect cup. In addition to this, you can personalize your tea even further by adding other ingredients to an infuser - think a quick Masala Chai! You can have fresh ginger, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, all together in the infuser with tea, and you'll have your very own chai cup ready in minutes! You can even use a Masala Chai loose leaf blend without having to worry about straining the spices and leaves after.
The next benefit of infusers are that they're eco-friendly. While biodegradable tea bags do exist, they're not yet too common - you'll find single-use tea-bags in most places. Some bags also come with small stapled pieces of metal. Teabags also use paper (though in tiny amounts). A tea infuser is indefinitely re-usable, and produces far less waste - making it an environmentally friendly option.
Other benefits include the fact that loose leaf tea is usually cheaper to buy, and available in larger quantities. With a one-time investment of an infuser, you'll get to save on your usual tea-expenses!
Tea made with an infuser can also often be tastier than its tea bag counterpart, owing to the fact that the perforated surface allows water to better flow through the tea and extract every last bit of flavor from it.
The Types of Tea Infusers
The world of tea infusers is surprisingly diverse. We'll run you through a few of the most popular types of infusers!
- Tea-ball Infuser - This is one of the most commonly used infusers. It shaped like an egg and has two-halves that open and snap shut. A spring mechanism at the hinge of the tea-ball ensured that none of your tea gets out. Its also usually made with a fine mesh, which means that teas of any size can be brewed in it without having to worry about tiny tea particles escaping. Tea-balls are useful in making teas with spices or other additions for this same reason!
- Basket-Type Infusers - As the name suggests, these are infusers shaped in a basket which can be placed on top of you cup of hot water. The water submerges the tea in the basket (which is usually deep and reaches the bottom of the cup), and gravity and stirring do their work in gradually pulling the flavors of the tea into the water. These have a lot of variety in them. They can be found made completely out of perforated metal, or even as metal meshes. Plastic meshes (we recommend BPA-safe ones) are also available, along with silicone and ceramic basket infusers. There's also baskets that you can fully submerge in the water, with a handle tall enough to reach out the top of the cup.
- Built-In Infusers - Certain Cups and Kettles come with a built-in infuser (attached either to the lid or the base) that you can fill with tea prior to adding hot water. These are usually highly-convenient if you're on the go, but might make it difficult to control how long you are brewing the tea, since they're not often detachable.
How to Use a Tea Infuser (and How Much Tea is Ideal)
While everyone has their own preferences in terms of how much tea they like (and how long they brew it), there's some general guidelines you can follow if you haven't yet figured out your perfect cup yet!
All tea infusers are used in the same way - add some tea to the infuser, and then let it sit in water, milk, or a mix of both. Usually, the water or milk is boiling hot, which makes the extraction process pretty quick. Infusers can also be used with cold water and milk too, and left to brew overnight or for 5-6 hours to make a cold-brew tea to your liking. Compared to tea-bags, the 'holes' in infusers allow the water to permeate the tea leaves far better than a very fine cloth-like mesh would, which means you don't have to worry about getting the most out of your tea!
For black teas, too much tea or steeping the infuser for too long may lead to bitterness due to an overload of tannins. For about 150 ml, we recommend a 3/4 teaspoon of tea, steeped for about 6-8 minutes.
For masala chai, we recommend using an infuser in a boiling pot of water. This traditional method of boiling the masala chai blend, along with sugar and milk, makes for a golden-brown, flavorful cup only when the chai is infused for around 8-10 minutes at high heat.
For green teas, the lack of processing in the leaves means that extracting their flavor is a far quicker process than with black teas. Green teas are susceptible to becoming too bitter as well, but they are milder than black teas. For a 150 ml cup, we recommend a teaspoon of tea, steeped for 3-5 minutes.
For herbal teas (like saffron or peppermint), you usually want to extract as much of the flavor as possible. We For a 150 ml cup, we recommend 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons of tea, steeped for 5-8 minutes.
For white tea, you usually need a larger quantity and higher brew time to get a flavorful cup. White teas also usually aren't as susceptible to tasting bitter due to over-brewing. For a 150 ml cup, we recommend 2-3 teaspoons of tea, steeped for 6-8 minutes.
Infusers vs. Strainers
Before we close off, we wanted to clarify a common source of confusion: the difference between tea infusers and strainers. Infusers are usually meant to hold the tea in water for a few minutes to let it steep, while strainers are purely to strain the tea and other ingredients from water. Strainers can sometimes be used like bucket infusers, but their shape is usually too small or their mesh too fine, which may make them unideal for infusing.
We hope you learnt more about infusers through this article!