Tea strainers come in all shapes and sizes but the question first would be why would you need one? Put simply, tea leaves don’t taste great so if you like to make your tea in this traditional manner rather than from a tea bag, you need to cut them off before they hit the cup. There are various ways to do this but they all use one form or another of a tea strainer. Here are some ideas about the different types to see which ones matches up with your tea.
The traditional manner of brewing tea was in a teapot, long before tea bags were invented. This meant putting the tea bags into the water in the pot and leaving them there to brew the tea but anyone who has inadvertently tasted them can confirm, they aren’t pleasant. Usually, a small sieve that is the size of a cup is held over the cup with a small handle and the tea is poured through it. This cuts off the tea leaves from making it into the cup and they can then be disposed of.
Some strainers are actually deep enough that they can be used to put the tea leaves in and insert into the cup of water. This means a teapot isn’t needed as the leaves can steep in the water for however long you choose and then be simply lifted out, never leaving the strainer. This also means that the leaves can be reused on more than one occasion. This type of tea strainer is often referred to as a brewing basket.
Tea strainers are often made traditionally in sterling silver, stainless steel or even china. They came in a set that included a small saucer to place to strainer on between uses and became elaborate and beautiful. These little works of art are now highly collectible.
Another type of tea strainer comes in the form of a small metal ball with holes in or partially made from mesh. These work in the same way as brewing baskets – the leaves are put in the strainer, this is then put into the cup of water or the teapot and left for the desired amount of time. It is then removed and either reused or the leaves put in the trash.
When deciding which strainer might be the one for you, there are a few things to think about. Obviously the first thing is do you want the traditional strainer type or the infuser type that allows tea to be made anywhere, without a tea pot.
The type of tea leaves you use may also have an impact on this decision. For example, if you are a fan of teas like Fukamushi sencha, these have very small particles that an extra fine strainer will be needed to capture. It will also need a wider area to strain as too small a space and the leave will clog up, meaning the water doesn’t get through.
Some tea fans say that basket style infusers are the easiest to clean, as there are no little nooks and crannies for the tea leaves to hide in. Because they tend to be bigger than the ball style infuser is, these are also said to allow the tea leaves to expand more and therefore give a better flavour.
|FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Extra-Fine Tea Infuser with Lid||Mug Infuser||Stainless Steel & Silicone||4.7 / 5||***|
|OXO Good Grips 3-Inch Mini Strainer||Strainer||Stainless Steel||4.6 / 5||**|
|Stainless Steel Italian Espress Tea Mesh Strainer w/ Drip Cup||Strainer||Stainless Steel||4.3 / 5||**|
|Grip-EZ Tea Infuser with Cup||Ball Infuser||Stainless Steel||3.9 / 5||*|
|Progressive Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Ball||Ball Infuser||Stainless Steel||3.4 / 5||*|
You may already have a favourite tea leaf that you will use your infuser or strainer with but if you are still in the deciding phase, here are a few pointers from the tea experts.
Take the leaves in your hand and press them gently. If they crumble away and leave you with a pile of mess, these are old leaves not fresh ones. Fresh leaves have a little spring in them so when you squeeze them a little, they spring back when you release. New leaves have a better taste and bring the best health benefits.
When you drink tea, enjoy it don’t just consume it. Taste it like you would a glass of wine as each different type of tea has different flavours involved. It seems to a shame to go to all the effort of making the drink to then knock it straight back and not get the most from it!