Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t read tea leaves. Not real ones anyway. Indeed, I’d prefer the leaves to stay mostly out of my tea. But I recently had folks over for dinner and, as is often the case, it wasn’t until I started to steep cups of post-dinner herbal tea that it occurred to me how clumsy our tea infusing set up is. Suffice to say, had a real tea leaf reader been in the room, there would have been plenty of material to work with at the bottoms of our cups.
I’ve been on the hunt for a more perfect tea strainer ever since—and, thanks to some of you, I’ve also been reminded of what I can use that’s already right under my nose.
An ideal strainer for me, is one without too many parts and that doesn’t require fussing. Faye and Silas love making chamomile tea, but trying to stuff chamomile flowers into one of our two teaspoon infusers is tricky for small fingers (and larger ones) and more often than not we end up straining the tea through our teeth. So, my first priority is a wide-mouthed strainer for easy filling. Second priority—of equal value to the first—is a strainer that fits securely on top of wider-than-average tea cups, and that goes deep enough that the water gets easily infused. We currently have a variation of the mesh strainer with bamboo handle shown above, and while it’s terrific for a small-necked mug, it sinks directly to the bottom of all of ours. My third priority is a tea strainer that’s large enough that it can be used to brew either a single cup or a small pot full of tea. We might one day be in the market for a proper tea pot again, and I’d love to be able to put the same strainer to use for a crowd or all by my lonesome.
What I already have:
+ For big pots of tea, I should have remembered to look no further than my French press. Of course. We use it daily for coffee, and I used to fill it up with tea regularly, too. When I was given a glass tea pot with a strainer of its own a few years ago, I fell out of the habit and by the time the glass strainer met its early, toddler-precipitated end, I’d forgotten all about using the French press for tea instead. Forgotten no more. When I’ve got guests, or a hankering for a big pot of tea, I’ll be putting our French press to good use.
What I’ve been admiring:
+ Earthenware Tea Strainer: This matte, unglazed earthenware strainer is slipcast & finished by Sue Pryke for Herriot Grace. The long handles would fit over even my large tea cups and it would be amply wide enough for easy filling. Perhaps too delicate for my personal assistants (read: children), but so lovely to look at, it deserves an ogle.
+ Wheel-Thrown Tea Strainer: I love the look of this tea strainer from Sarah Van Raden of Notary Ceramics. The circular top would be wide enough to fit over my mugs and the large basket looks like it could be used for one cup or several.
+ Vintage Brass Basket Tea Strainer: Briar Winters of Marble and Milkweed often finds and re-stocks these vintage brass basket tea strainers in her shop. The long handle makes them perfect for wide tea cups and they’re sturdier and easier to fill than their mesh counterparts.
+ Schefs Premium Stainless Steel Tea Strainer: One of my sisters swears by this simple stainless strainer. It’s wide enough to fit over a variety of mugs, easy to fill, and, best of all, the handles fold down to make for simple storage. (Those are some moving parts I can get behind.)
+ Mesh Tea Strainer: I get asked so many questions about this strainer (mentioned above), that I thought I would add it here for those curious. It’s really great for mugs or pots with a small opening, but there’s not a huge amount of room for error if what you have isn’t the perfect diameter.
+ For Life Stainless Steel Tea Strainer: A favorite local café uses these strainers for their teas and I’ve often enjoyed using them there. Since so many of you reached out to say they’re your favorites, I wanted to make sure to add them to the list. The small cover is a nice addition for brewing medicinal teas and stronger infusions, but of course a small plate or bowl works in a pinch, too.
What else? Other favorites? What are you drinking lately?
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