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Tea Infusers

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 | Tags: ,

For a cookbook review of Best British Dishes, we set up the A & K Test Lab in Yorkshire's Swinton Park Castle, which is also a member of the British Tea Guild. While tea bags are practical, die-hard tea drinkers go for loose leaf teas, and for that, you need an infuser. We put some to the test to see if any perform above the rest.

The Basics

  • Tea bags are convenient, but they don’t allow the water to mix with the leaves very well. Some say this causes a significant loss in flavour, and possibly even health benefits.

  • Tea infusers are made in two main sizes: large enough for an entire pot of tea, or small enough for a single cup.

  • They are anything but standard, coming in a variety of meshy shapes, made out of materials from metal, glass, plastic, and a variety of other materials.

  • Tea infusers are a great tool if you like to buy your own tea leaves and mix up your own blends of herbs and tea leaves.

  • Remember to match the size of the opening of your cup or tea pot with the size of the infuser or strainer.

Infuser Tips

  • Regular teas should be infused for no less than 3 minutes to allow the taste to come through, and no more than 5 minutes to keep bitter tannins at bay.

  • Herbal teas generally have different brewing and infusion requirements, so be sure to read up on them in order to enjoy your herbal teas at their best.

  • Fill the infuser only up to half capacity to allow the leaves to expand and easily release their essential oils.

  • Large leaf teas may require larger infusers, while small leaf teas and broken tea leaves, such as decaffeinated teas, are best brewed with infusers that have small holes or openings.

  • For hotter tea, rinse the cup or tea pot with hot water before use.

  • If you like milk in your tea, add it to the cup first to warm it up, and so that it won’t cool your tea too much.

  • Be aware that tea leaves left in water in your cup or tea pot will otherwise continue to increase the tannin content, creating an undesirable, bitter taste.

TEST CRITERIA

We invited the Baron and Baroness of Masham, also the owners of Swinton Park Castle where we were staying on our trip to the UK, to have tea with us and help us test infusers.

  • Bodum Yo Yo Stainless Steel Tea Infuser with Lid : $19.95
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Fox Run Stainless Steel 2” Mesh Tea Ball: $5.50
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Tovolo Tea Infuser: $9.95
. . Well.ca Amazon.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Infusion Test

  • The Bodum sieve-style infuser kept all the leaves in place. None leaked into our cups.

  • The Fox Run made a mess in our cups. The idea of the tighter mesh on the bottom and the larger slant holes on the top just didn’t quite work, and our small leaves escaped easily.

  • The Tovolo took a long time to infuse. Swishing it around helped. We liked the little stand for keeping your leaves at the ready for a second brewing.

OUR TOP PICK

We all agreed that the Bodum Yo Yo Stainless Steel Tea Infuser with Lid, a sieve-style infuser, made the cleanest cup of classic British tea.

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