Published March 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
We tested small teapots with unusual strainers and dispensing mechanisms that promised to make dealing with loose tea mess-free.
We tested four small teapots with unusual strainers and dispensing mechanisms that promised to make dealing with loose tea mess-free. In each case, we used the same tea and a four-minute steeping time. The glass model we tested, which makes two cups per pot, presses tea like a French coffee press—but it traps the strongest tea inside the solid, closed bottom of the press insert, producing weaker tea than the other pots. Another model was fussy; if the lid of this one-cup brewer didn’t click perfectly into place, tea leaked out the bottom valve. The lowest rated pot couldn’t brew even one full cup and didn’t contain loose leaves well. Our favorite met all criteria. It brewed good, strong tea and kept loose leaves in check with its ultra-fine-mesh strainer. To use, add tea leaves and water, let steep, and then place the pot over a cup to automatically open a bottom valve—brewed tea will flow into the cup below.