To infuse or not to infuse. That’s the real question. There are tons of tea infusers on the market – from classic steal infuser balls to clever, animal-shaped infusers. It makes sense that there’s a wide variety. If you’re going to drink loose tea, you need some kind of infuser to hold the tea leaves so you can easily remove them when your tea is done steeping. But, what are all of your options for infusing tea and what should you really be using?
Single-Serve, Re-Usable Infusers
A common way to contain your tea is a single-serve, re-usable infuser. This category includes small infusers made from materials like silicon, mesh, or metal. They’re often a standalone tea accessory, but sometimes they’re incorporated into a mug or tumbler for on-the-go convenience. The upside of using these infusers is that they’re economically and environmentally friendly. Unlike pre-packaged tea bags, these infusers are good for many uses and don’t need to be thrown away. The downside to these infusers is that they’re often difficult to clean, with pieces of botanical ingredients and tea easily sticking to the infuser’s holes. They also have limited space. Most infusers are made for just one cup of tea and adding multiple infusers can be spatially tricky.
Teapots, Tumblers, and French Presses
Teapots that include an infuser or infusing basket resolve the spatial issue of single-serve infusers. You can make about three cups of tea on a single infusion and the baskets often allow for several teaspoons or tablespoons of tea. Tumblers take this same principle of an all-in-one infuser and vessel, but can be taken on-the-go. Throw your leaves in the basket, let them steep as you run out the door, and then toss the leaves when necessary. French Presses, however, need a little bit more attention. Like a teapot, you’ll get more than one cup out of French Press, but the mesh that holds down the steeped leaves at the bottom of the press can sometimes oversteep the leaves, adding a slightly astringent flavor.
Like single-serve, re-usable infusers, teapots, tumblers, and French Presses are economically and environmentally efficient. They also have their own unique challenges in cleaning them. Not only do you have more pieces to clean, but some pieces (like the French Press) can be trickier to fully rid of leaves.
Disposable and Biodegradable
For simple, easy-to-clean infusing, biodegradable filter bags are an awesome option. The bags are perfect for single cups of tea, but are large enough to fit a few spoonfuls of tea for a teapot. You’d think that bags you toss after every use would be environmentally wasteful, but biodegradable filter bags are totally fine for the environment. In fact, you can even bury used tea bags in your garden like compost. Each box of filter bags comes with 100 bags, so you will have to make more purchases in the long run. However, those extra purchases are completely worth it if it means never having to pick tea leaves out of tiny mesh holes again!
Some teas don’t need an infusing tool at all! Blooming teas are best enjoyed tossed into a cup or teapot as is. The leaves are tightly bound and blossom when hit with hot water.
What do you use to steep your tea?