Your Guide to Different Types of Tea Makers
Whether you’re new to drinking tea or are looking for a better way to brew it, you’re in the right place. While tea bags make things efficient, they often come packaged in questionable materials. With loose tea, you can brew it without fear.
But without the right tea-making tools, you’re bound to get a mouthful or two of tea debris. By knowing more about the types of tea makers out there, you can always brew the perfect cup of your favorite tea!
Types of Tea Makers
Of course, if you want to, you can simply put a bag of tea in boiling water and call it a day. However, these different types of tea makers will give you a far better experience. There are a variety of styles to choose from and depending on your tea choices, one may be a better fit for you over others.
First, let’s discuss the most classic choice of all, the teapot!
During the Yuan Dynasty which ruled from 1271 AD to 1368 AD, teapots rose to stardom in China. Historians believe they were modeled after the wine pots and ceramic kettles that were already being used at the time. The teapot continued to be the vessel of choice for teas, particularly when China started its exportation of the stuff to England.
But that’s when things really took off for Europe soon began to produce porcelain teapots in Germany’s Meissen Factory in the early 1700s. In Boston, silver tea settings were crafted and considered an elite possession.
Today, you can find a humble teapot with a handle and a spot, just like your child might sing in that old familiar preschool song, pretty much anywhere. However, the ones crafted from the olden days are treasured collector’s items. They make an exceptional wedding gift and look beautiful on display.
Naturally, if you’re looking to have tea every day, you may want to select something on the more affordable side.
For an authentic approach, you can try a Chinese gaiwan. This teaware features a bowl with a lid and saucer. Usually, it’s made from porcelain and is ideal for those loose teas. You’ll want to try it with fragrant teas because it allows you to fully appreciate the aroma.
The gaiwan dates back to the West Han Dynasty which ruled from 206 BC to 220 AD. It really wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty though that this simple tea brewing method was perfected. It’s still used today because it retains heat so well and the lid helps decant loose leaves. It also looks lovely when displayed in your home.
Teapot with Infusers
Teapots with infusers are a great way to make tea. It’s a teapot that comes with a special section to enclose loose leaf teas. Think of it like a reusable bag that you can use forever. You simply heat up the water and then add the infuser filled with tea until it steeps.
Using a teapot with an infuser gives you a smoother flavor because the water in the pot flows more easily around the leaves. While it looks similar to a strainer, it’s a bit different in that you put the leaves into the infuser and the infuser is placed into the water.
Since a basket infuser is larger, this might be a better choice for you. It’s very easy to use and clean. The bigger it is, the more it allows your tea leaves to expand in size when they soak up the water. This also allows for better circulation of water too to get that perfect tea brew.
Basket infusers for tea offers the best of both worlds for a roomier tea brewing experience. Whether you’re making some for just yourself or serving a room full of guests, the basket infuser won’t let you down. They also have no clips or clasps so it’s easier to deal with and they feature tightly woven mesh which ensures you won’t get any bits of loose tea in your teeth.
Much as the name implies, a ball infuser is made of two semi-circular halves that secure together. Some look like an egg but the idea is the same. It has a steel body with punctures in it to allow for the flow of water to penetrate the tea within. They usually clasp together after you fill them and drop them into your cup. It’s a very simple design that anyone can use.
Tea strainers work in a slightly different way. It’s more of the size of a small spoon. You’ll use it after steeping tea in a pot. You place it on top of your cup to capture the leaves as you pour the tea from the teapot. While it does a fine job of catching those little tidbits of tea, a tea strainer can be difficult to clean.
Teapots – with or without strainers and infusers – are an easy way to make tea. But there are more tea maker options out there that can turn your tea-making game into an epicurean delight. If you love tea and want an easier way to make it or you want to take it, full-on gourmet, the tea makers listed below can help you make tea in an artful form.
Using a teapot, gaiwan, or teapot with an infuser or strainer is one of the simplest ways to make tea. They’re not the only way though! Just as coffee has many ways to brew it, so too does tea. You may find that with the right tea maker, you appreciate tea more than ever before!
Teapot with a Plunger
Plunger teapots are much like a French press. The plunger portion operates as a strainer and helps steep loose leaf teas. Since they’re made from glass, you can see what’s going on which gives it a classy appeal. However, with finer-ground loose teas, you may wind up with some bits and pieces which will give your tea a rustic texture.
Suction can be a problem with these too, making it harder to push your plunger. It takes practice to get just the right touch. The process of cleaning a teapot with a plunger may result in you not using it as much as you’d hoped. That’s why if you’re unsure, try using your French press if you have one to see if it might be something you’re keen on doing.
How do you use this thing anyway? It’s mostly straightforward. You add the loose tea into the body of the teapot. About a teaspoon of loose tea leaves should be used for every 6 ounces and 1 teaspoon of water. Then you’ll heat the water to the correct temperature for your tea type. For black tea, you want the water to steam with large bubbles but not quite at a full boil (190 to 200F). Green tea should be heated to 150 to 170F and herbals at 180 to 200F.
You’ll then pour the water into where the tea is and add the plunger lid. Don’t push the plunger until your steeping time is done, which varies by tea type. Once it steeps properly, push that plunger down firmly and then pour out your tea to enjoy as you like.
Bottom Dispensing Teapots
Have you seen a bottom dispensing teapot? This is a cool invention for sure! You’ll find them in stainless steel and plastic. As long as the plastic is BPA-free, it is safe to use. You’ll put your loose tea leaves and hot water inside this type of teapot. After it brews, you simply put the bottom dispensing teapot on top of a mug of your choosing.
When you do this, a valve releases and your tea pours right into your mug. It’s a great way to enjoy the flavors and aromas of loose teas. Plus, the mesh filter at the bottom inside this device keeps the leaves from going into your cup. You get plenty of flavor and ease of cleanup, making it a nice option for your tea brewing.
Electric Tea Makers
Thinking of an electric tea maker? There are so many different styles to choose from. The simplest is an electric tea kettle. Unlike those stovetop ones, they heat up more quickly and are quieter too. Plus, they have an auto shut-off that keeps things safe so you won’t have to worry about it while you go about your morning or evening routine.
An electric tea kettle can also keep the water hotter for longer than a standard stovetop kettle. They have ones you can program too, making life even easier for the tea aficionado.
But you can go one step further on electric tea makers and get ones that operate much like a coffee machine. You may want to review all the options available to you, but in short, if you want to use your electric tea maker for other things like instant coffee, making pasta, or boiling water for other quick-use things, an electric tea kettle is the way to go.
If you want to use it just for making the best tea, you’ll find one-touch tea makers that feature brew baskets to fill with loose leaves of tea. It automatically lowers the basket into the water when it heats to the right temperature and keeps the leaves from seeping into your tea. And yes, you can customize the temperature so any type of tea is brewed to absolute perfection.
Some electric tea makers can even be programmed the night before so you can wake up to a perfect cup of tea. What a time to be alive!
If you’re a fan of iced tea, you may want to consider an electric tea maker that creates your iced tea in one easy step. Iced tea makers also work in the same way, eliminating the multiple steps it would usually take to make it the old-fashioned way.
With an iced tea maker, you add the loose tea to your basket and let the hot water dispense over it. It then brews into a vessel that you have filled with ice. With an iced tea maker, you can make any kind of iced tea you’d like. Some are more rustic in that they won’t pour over the ice (you’ll do that part). If you often host summer gatherings in the backyard, you may find going for the high-functioning iced tea models is the best investment in making tea your way.
Portable Tea Makers
Portable tea makers are ideal when it’s just you and your tea. Some are rather basic in that they’ll keep your tea hot or cold but you’ll have to make the tea beforehand. These tumblers are ideal if you have an electric tea maker and want to take your tea with you for your morning commute.
Others come with an infuser inside so you can throw your tea in and go. These allow for proper straining as well. You simply add the tea to the infuser at the bottom and pour in hot water. Some even have dry storage compartments so you can bring more tea along for later.
Each kind of portable tea maker has its own features but in general, you’ll want to look for food-safe materials like BPA-free plastics and stainless steel. It also helps to have double-wall insulation which will keep your tea hot or cold as you like it for hours to come.
And they even make them for boba tea if you like that, though those can also be used for any other kind of tea or drink.
Drip Coffee Maker
If you already have loads of kitchen appliances in your home, you may want to simply use your drip coffee maker to get the tea brewing job done. However, you will want to ensure that you keep it clean because no one wants tea that tastes like coffee (and vice versa!). In fact, that’s the biggest drawback to using a drip coffee maker for brewing tea. It may not express all the flavors you hope to enjoy because of any lingering oils from your coffee beans.
Still, a drip coffee maker is helpful for brewing tea for a crowd, especially if you don’t often have tea. When someone brings you a gift of tea from China or other places in the East, one of the easiest ways to make it is to pull out your drip coffee maker. You can use it for making hot or iced tea too!
How do you make tea in a drip coffee maker? Easy! You will put a coffee filter in the basket just like you would for making coffee but you’ll fill it with the loose tea leaves. Add in your desired amount of water and then start the coffee maker. That’s it!
If you want to turn that brew into iced tea, you’ll need to let it cool down a bit first and then add it to your pitcher full of ice. Adding in slices of lemon or orange can lighten up an iced tea for summer. A sprig of fresh mint works wonders too.
For those that are into having the best teas though, using the drip coffee maker won’t be your best option. You’ll certainly want to splurge on something that allows you to get the full flavor and aroma from the loose leaf teas you have. But if it’s convenience you want for the occasional tea, a drip coffee maker will do a fine job.
How to Choose the Perfect Tea Maker for You
Since electric tea makers are more expensive than buying a teapot with an infuser or the other types of strainers, it makes sense that you’d want to put some thought into it before you buy it. It’s easy to grab a strainer or infuser for your teapot, or even buy a new teapot that includes an infuser.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with these items and the decision to buy them requires less rumination. For electric tea makers though, you’ll need to think of a few more things before making a decision that works for you.
Consider ease of use
Like coffee machines, some tea makers today can be incredibly complex. Not all of them are of course, but it helps to see if you can understand all the features it offers. And will you use all of those features? You may find that it’s well worth the investment to buy a tea maker that heats the water to the precise temperature for each type of tea you want to brew.
How to clean it
With some tea makers, you can throw the removable parts into your dishwasher. Others may not have this option and you’ll have to clean it by hand. But even with those infusers and strainers, they can be tricky to clean. Perhaps for you, the best selling point will be an easy cleanup after your tea brewing.
Types of tea you’ll use
If you like trying a variety of teas, you’ll want to select a tea maker that can make them all equally well. The plunger-style or even your own French press is great for black teas or herbal teas. But when it comes to other types of teas that are more delicate such as white or green tea, you will want to use something else to make your tea.
How often do you plan to make tea? Are you drinking it for your health or as a connoisseur? Many tea makers can handle all your needs especially if you want to drink more tea. But if you’re looking for a simple preparation that allows you to enjoy the experience of tea, you may find using a gaiwan or a simple teapot works best for you.
Tea makers come in a variety of materials. Your best options are stainless steel or glass. Plastic is fine too as long as it is BPA-free. Glass has the advantage of allowing more visibility and making it easier to clean.
Automatic or Manual
Do you need your tea maker to be automatic? If you want to take tea seriously and enjoy it to the proper temperature, you may want to invest in one that can perfectly set the right temperature for any type of tea. Throwing hot water willy-nilly at tea can result in ruining the flavors the tea leaves should bring.
Some people love the idea of not having to really lift a finger to make their tea much in the way they push a button for their coffee. If that sounds like you, go automatic. But if you like making tea the manual way, there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting a teapot with an infuser or simply picking up a ball infuser or strainer to make your teas. Just be sure you’re heating the water to the proper temperature so you can fully enjoy the teas you brew.
With so many types of tea makers, it can make for a big decision. If you’re not sure you’ll like tea, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a simple teapot and an infuser. A nice one will look good among your décor when not in use.
But if you do love tea and want to enjoy it more readily on a regular basis, why not invest in a tea maker? You’ll cut down on prep time and easily be able to brew a variety of amazing teas at the right temperature every time for your ultimate enjoyment.
About the Author
Twigs cafe staff is comprised of editors, writers, food & drink experts, nutritionists, and researchers to create informative and helpful content for health-conscious people.
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