- Tea leaves are far superior to tea bags, but things get messy without a proper tea infuser.
- The Finum Brewing Basket is the best tea infuser for most mugs and teapots with its roomy fine mesh basket design.
Tea is serious business and real aficionados prefer loose leaf tea over the leftover leaves most companies stuff into tea bags. However, if you want to brew tea properly, you are going to need the right equipment. In addition to getting one of the best electric kettles to bring your water to just the right temperature for the leaves you’re using, you’ll also want a tea infuser to separate the leaves from your brew once it’s ready.
Picking the best tea infuser sounds like a simple task, but it’s actually quite complicated. Tea experts will even tell you not to get an infuser and truly let your tea leaves float in the hot water to maximize their flavor. If you’re going to follow that approach, you’ll still need a strainer to keep the leaves out of your drink. However, you can get the flavor or uninhibited tea leaves with the best tea infusers. The more space you give your tea leaves to move around inside the infuser, the better.
We’ve researched tea blogs, read expert reviews, and done our own personal testing to find the very best tea infusers you can buy. We also selected the best tea infuser travel mug and teapot to accommodate those who want to drink tea on the go or consume a whole pot’s worth. Before we get into our picks, here are things to consider when choosing the best tea infuser for your needs and a few tips on how to make the most of your tea.
There are lots of different kinds of tea infusers, including brewing baskets, mesh metal balls, cute silicon infusers, as well as travel mugs and teapots with infusers built into the design.
- Brewing baskets: Brewing flavorful, rich tea requires the perfect temperature of water, quality tea leaves, and the right amount of space. Brewing baskets are deep and spacious, so they provide ample room for the tea to float about and brew properly. The bigger the basket, the better.
- Ball tea infusers: Mesh and metal tea balls are small, compact, and easy to use. Some have long handles and others have a ball-and-chain design. The mesh is good at keeping out fine tea particles, but tea balls are typically too small to properly infuse your tea with the full flavor of the leaves. Tea experts don’t recommend ball-style infusers, but we’ve included our favorite long handle one.
- Silicone tea infusers: Silicone tea infusers are similar to mesh metal balls, so the smaller ones aren’t great for getting the most flavor out of your tea. Some people complain about silicone leaving a taste to the tea, but most buyers love their fun silicone tea infusers. If you’re a casual tea drinker, you may like one of the cute designs by Fred & Friends, which we recommend.
- Travel mugs with infusers: Travel mugs with infusers are great for tea lovers on the go. Many come in glass housings, but they’re not terribly durable. We chose a travel mug with a more traditional thermos-style design that’s durable, but you will need to buy the compatible metal tea infusing basket separately.
- Teapots with infusers: If you typically drink a pot of tea or want to share with others, you’ll want a teapot with an infuser built in. There are lots of teapots in all kinds of materials from glass and ceramic, to clay and cast iron. The size of the infuser is the most important thing – it should be as big as possible to let the tea brew well. We’ve chosen a durable glass teapot with a giant metal mesh brewing basket.
Here are the best tea infusers you can buy:
- Best tea infuser overall: Finum Brewing Basket
- Best tea infuser with a long handle: OXO Good Grips Twisting Tea Ball
- Best quirky tea infusers: Fred & Friends
- Best tea infuser travel mug: Contigo West Loop Travel Mug
- Best teapot with an infuser: Hario Chacha Kyusu Maru Tea Pot
Updated on 10/28/2019 by Connie Chen: Updated links, prices, and formatting.
The best tea infuser overall
The Finum Brewing Basket lets your tea leaves swim around in hot water to make excellent tea in any mug or teapot.
The more space your tea leaves have to roam, the better your brew will taste. The large Finum Brewing Basket is the very best tea infuser you can buy if you want a versatile, roomy steeper for your tea.
Although it has a plastic frame, the mesh is made of stainless steel, and it’s so fine that nary a tea leaf will escape into your teacup or teapot. The plastic frame is heat resistant, so you won’t burn your fingers when you lift the basket out of the mug or teapot. You can flip over the plastic lid to make it into a tray to hold the brewing basket when your tea is done brewing.
The large Brewing Basket’s plastic arms allow it to fit inside any mug that’s 2.8 to 4 inches wide, and it’s tall enough to simply stand up in shorter mugs or tea cups at just under 4 inches. The company also makes a medium-sized one that’s a bit smaller to fit cups that are 2.3 to 3.5 inches wide.
Many tea fans love the Finum Brewing Basket, including expert reviewers at The Wirecutter, who say that it gives the tea more room to move around than any other infuser. They also like the plastic frame because it won’t burn your fingers when you try to remove the infuser.
Some tea purists argue that the plastic changes the taste of the tea or that plastic is bad for you – even if it’s BPA free – but The Wirecutter asked experts if plastic was a problem, and they said no. Opinion is divided on the merits of plastic versus metal tea infusers, but we don’t imagine it will make a huge difference to most people. If it does, try one of our other picks from the slides below.
Buyer reviews on Amazon are very positive as well, and most of those buyers are hardcore tea drinkers. Buyers love how easy it is to clean and the low price point is another big draw. One reviewer bought it out of frustration with other higher-priced tea gadgets and fell in love with the Finum Brewing Basket. It just goes to show that you don’t need expensive equipment to make great tea.
Pros: Lots of room for tea to brew, mesh doesn’t allow tea leaves to escape, fits in most mugs, comes in two sizes, you won’t burn your hands when you pull out the basket by the plastic rim
Cons: Plastic sides and rim may deter some
The best tea infuser with a long handle
The OXO Good Grips Twisting Tea Ball takes the fuss out of tea making with a simple stainless steel ball infuser design.
Tea purists say you need more space to brew your tea properly, but sometimes a ball infuser is easier for a single cup of tea. The OXO Good Grips Twisting Tea Ball is the best tea infuser for people on a budget who are just making tea for themselves.
It’s a brilliant design that turns your tea infuser into a tea scoop as well. With a twist of the rubbery end of the long handle, the stainless steel ball splits in two and one half of the ball rolls back to make a tea scoop. You scoop up your tea, close the ball, and drop it in your teacup with the hot water. It’s very simple and requires no fuss.
The ball infuser has perfectly sized holes that don’t let big tea leaves through. You may find a few stray leaves in your cup now and then, though. Although the Twisting Tea Ball is small, if you don’t pack too much tea in there, the leaves will still have space to move and expand with the water. If you have very fine tea with many small particles, you may have some left in your cup. OXO says it’s best used with whole leaf teas and tea pearls.
When you’re done brewing your tea, you take it out, open it with a twist, and toss out the leaves. A simple rinse later, and you’re done. I own two of these Twisting Tea Balls, and they’re great. When I don’t want a full pot of tea, I pop one in my mug. Sometimes a leaf or some tea particles get into the cup, but it’s negligible.
User reviews on Amazon call the Twisting Tea Ball the best infuser they’ve ever used and praise how easy it is to clean. Negative reviews mention tea leaves and dust escaping the infuser and landing in the cup, but that’s inevitable with most infusers – you’ll always end up with some tea dust or small leaf fragments unless you’re using a very fine mesh infuser.
Overall, for less than $10 (current Amazon price), the OXO Twisting Tea Ball is an excellent deal.
Pros: Easy to use, long handle for easy extraction, almost no tea escapes, sturdy tool, affordable price
Cons: Small area for tea to brew
The best quirky tea infusers
- Fred & Friends
Fred & Friends designs the most eccentric and adorable tea infusers you can find anywhere from Mr. Tea to the Manatea.
Tea infusers don’t have to be boring utilitarian objects. Fred & Friends makes some of the cutest and craziest tea infusers we’ve ever seen. If you’re into funny kitchen gadgets, you’ll love these tea infusers.
Serious tea snobs may turn up their noses at these small silicone tea infusers, but others will simply add them to their wonky collection of weird tea infusers. Fred & Friends makes all kinds of funny designs, including Mr. Tea, Manatea, a sloth, a whale, and more. Whatever humorous one you choose, they’re mostly the same design.
The silicone infusers have little holes in them that shouldn’t let tea escape once it’s in there. Unlike metal infusers that can get hot from the tea and burn you when you try to remove them, silicone tea infusers stay relatively cool. The infusers are also really easy to clean.
Buyers on Amazon bought the Fred & Friends infusers mainly for the funny designs and novelty appeal, but most agree that the infusers get the job done well, too. The infusers are small, though, so they can be finicky to use and they won’t circulate the tea leaves around in the water
They’re probably best for the casual tea drinker, kids who love tea, and people who just want a funny infuser in their collection. Regardless, for less than $10, Fred & Friends’ tea infusers are a fun, cute purchase for your tea making habit.
Pros: Lots of cute designs to choose from, easy to clean, silicone stays cool in hot water,
Cons: Small space for tea to brew, some complain about silicone changing the taste
The best tea infuser travel mug
The Contigo 16oz Stainless Steel West Loop Travel Mug and Tea Infuser keeps your tea warm and brews great tea with its own infuser.
Travel mugs are very popular for tea and coffee drinkers because they can keep your drinks warm for hours. There are lots of travel mugs with tea infusers built in, but most of them are made of either fragile glass or plastic, which may leave a strange taste in your tea. Our favorite travel mug and a tea infuser combination is the 16oz Contigo West Loop Travel Mug and Tea Infuser (sold separately).
Contigo’s West Loop Travel Mug is a great option all on its own, but the addition of a special tea infusing basket to its classic design makes it even better for tea drinkers. The infuser is made out of stainless steel with etched holes for steeping, and it measures 4.4 high and 2.3 inches wide, which is pretty decent for a travel mug infuser.
The company’s autoseal lid prevents leaks and spills, while the vacuum insulated mug design keeps heat in longer. The addition of the tea infuser makes it an even better deal in our view, though you do have to buy the infuser separately from the mug. Contigo does sell a set, but it sells out often, and the price is the same regardless.
Buyer reviews on Amazon are positive, and tea drinkers love that the infuser is easy to clean and remove from the travel mug. Some reviewers mention that it’s more durable than the other glass tea infusing travel mugs they’ve owned. The stainless steel design also ensures that you don’t get a weird plastic taste in your tea.
In my personal experience, glass travel mugs don’t keep tea warm enough and they break easily while you’re on the go, which is not a good thing at all. Plastic travel mugs also seem incapable of keeping tea above a tepid temperature, and often, the infusers break. The Contigo West Loop Travel Mug and Tea Infuser avoids all those pitfalls, and at less than $30, it’s a good deal.
Pros: Stainless steel design, built-in mesh infuser basket, keeps tea warm, durable build
Cons: Pricey and the infuser section isn’t huge
The best teapot with an infuser
The Hario Chacha Kyusu Maru Tea Pot lets your tea leaves mingle with the hot water in a giant brewing basket to make a delicious pot of tea.
Sometimes a cup of tea just isn’t enough – you need a full pot. The 700ml Hario Chacha Kyusu Maru Tea Pot is a beautiful Japanese teapot made of strong glass, which has a giant mesh brewing basket, so your tea leaves can be fully immersed in the hot water.
Hario’s teapot comes in three different sizes to suit your brewing needs. The 700ml one holds about three 8-ounce cups of tea, while the 300ml teapot is really only for one big cup. We recommend the bigger one for anyone who likes to have friends over for tea or just drinks multiple cups in one sitting. It’s lovely to watch tea steep in a glass teapot, and it’ll look gorgeous in any home.
The mesh is very fine, so your tea leaves shouldn’t escape its confines while you brew the tea. The teapot itself is short and squat with a cute short spout, a big lid, and a slim handle. The Wirecutter calls it the best teapot with an infuser that you can buy, primarily because of the big open mesh brewing basket inside.
Reviewers on Amazon love how beautiful and simple the Hario teapot is. The only complaint is that it is very fragile, but that’s common for teapots of all kinds, whether they’re ceramic or glass. It’s relatively easy to clean, too, because the tea spout isn’t long and narrow and the brewing basket is nice and big.
The low price tag, big brewing basket, and pretty design make the 700ml Hario Chacha Kyusu Maru Tea Pot the best one you can buy. If you want an even cheaper option and you have access to an Ikea, the Riklig teapot is very similar, and it’s the one I personally use.
Pros: Big brewing basket makes great tea, fine metal mesh material doesn’t let tea leaves escape, short spout is easy to pour, glass design is pretty, inexpensive
Cons: Glass is fragile
Tips on how to brew the perfect tea
- Haneburger/Business Insider
To make the most of the expensive tea leaves you’ve bought, you need to make sure the water you use to brew them is correct.
Most experts agree that white and green teas should be brewed at temperatures between 160 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit, with white teas on the lower end of that range. Oolong teas should be brewed between 180 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, while black and herbal teas need 212 degrees Fahrenheit to reach their peak.
Brewing times will vary, and many tea shops will give you advice on how long to brew your tea. A lot of it is personal taste, too, so do what makes you happy.