Tea infusers - A quick primer.

by Robert O'Brien January 29, 2014 2 min read

There are several different ways to make tea from basic to elegant. And today we are going to talk about infusing devices.

On the most basic level, there is the steep in the cup method. You literally put the tea in the cup you drink from.  Predictably, your tea will have all kinds of leaves floating about.  This method uses no infusers. I have used this method and its kind of crude but it gets the job done, if you're in desperate need of a cup.

The next most simple method is the infuser ball. This is a ball that is hinged and opens up.  You fill one side with tea and close the ball up.  Close the clasp holding the two spheres together and drop into the cup filled with hot water. The ball usually has a chain or handle so that you can remove it from the hot tea at the end of the steep. 

A close variation on this style is the pincer spoon. This tea infuser has a two part basket that closes shut by spring action. Its a slight improvement over the ball because there is no chain that can fall into the cup.

Both infusers have problems.  They are small and hard to load with tea.  They tend to spill tea into the water. Sometimes the clasp fails or the pincer opens. Another overlooked problem is the size of the basket in relation to the size of the tea leaves. A good steep requires good water circulation and the combination of large leaves and small basket produces a weaker infusion and wastes tea. And some leaves are just too big. Oolongs, for example tend to have large leaves and are not recommended for these types infusers.

The good part is these infusers are affordable (under $5) and with a little dexterity and careful handling can make good tea especially black teas.

In my next article. I will discuss better infusers.