Yet infusers and tea balls still have a prominent place at the table. The terms infuser and tea ball are often used interchangeably, but the infuser encompasses a broader set of designs and technologies. Acting as a filter, today’s infuser can float atop the hot water or be immersed deeply in the cup or pot. With spring-action handles or built-in scoops, modern infusers have made steeping almost effortless. The durable and colorful silicone infusers on the market today were preceded—and are still accompanied by—the metal and mesh tea-ball infusers.
Regardless of the design, some general rules apply to using either an infuser or a tea ball. Fill the device only halfway with tea leaves to allow for movement and expansion. This will release optimal flavor. Base your choice of infuser on the size of the tea leaves—the smaller the leaves, or pieces of leaves, the smaller the holes in the infuser.
High-tech or low-tech, silicone or sterling silver, the types of infusers are as varied as the cups of tea they create. Fanciful tea balls, fine strainers, and contemporary infusers illustrate the evolution of steeping, as well as the range of devices that have made infusing a way to customize the beverage and maximize the experience.
From Teatime Favorites 2013
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