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A mesh tea infuser ball
Open infuser ball filled with Genmaicha tea
A stainless tea infuser ball

A tea infuser is a device in which loose, dried tea leaves are placed for steeping or brewing, in a mug or a teapot full of hot water; it is often called a teaball or tea maker, and sometimes a tea egg.[1] The tea infuser gained popularity in the first half of the 19th century. Tea infusers enable one to easily steep tea from fannings and broken leaf teas.[2]

Some infusers are removed along with the tea leaves from the pot, while so called shut-off infusers[3] are left in the pot after the brewing process is complete.


A tea infuser performs a similar function as a tea bag, a later American invention. The infuser is generally a small mesh or perforated metal container or covered spoon that holds tea leaves, in varying sizes to steep single or multiple servings at once. Common shapes for infusers include spherical, conical and cylindrical. One style of infuser is a split sphere with tong-like handles to open its mesh container.[4]

Two other types of spoon-shaped tea infusers, with handles

The infuser is placed in a cup or pot of hot or boiling water, allowing the tea to brew without loose tea leaves spilling into the pot or cup. A rod or chain is commonly attached to the container of the infuser to simplify retrieval from the pot or cup. Infusers with large holes may not catch all the leaves, requiring the use of a tea strainer to remove the remaining pieces.[5]

French press[edit]

While not common, a French press may be used as a tea infuser. However, most teas are infused only for a limited time and then removed from the water so that the drink does not become bitter.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Perry, Sarah; Miksch, Alison (2001). The New Tea Book: A Guide to Black, Green, Herbal, and Chai Teas. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. p. 63. ISBN 0-8118-3053-5.
  2. ^ Cooper, Felix (19 February 1943). "Tea Balls for Conservation". The New York Times. p. 18. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Patented terminology". BonJour Products/Meyer Manufacturing. Archived from the original on 25 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  4. ^ Johnson, Dorothea; James Norwood Pratt (2002). Tea and Etiquette: Taking Tea for Business and Pleasure. Sterling, VA: Capital Books. pp. 70–71. ISBN 1-931868-00-X.
  5. ^ a b Zijderveld, Annelies. "How to Brew a Cup of Tea". Coffee/Tea. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2009.