Tea Stick Infusers

Published November 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.

When you want a single-cup of freshly brewed tea, a tea stick infuser may be your best option.

Overview:

Update July 2012:

Our winner, the Copco Twisting Stick Infuser with Lily Pad has been discontinued. Our runner-up model is our new test kitchen pick.

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Many tea lovers in search of the perfect single cup turn to tea balls and mini basket-style infusers, brewing choices that allow loose tea leaves full exposure to hot water. Now they have new options for getting the same full-flavored cup: a spate of space-efficient tea “sticks” designed to brew single servings up to 12 ounces. We got the kettle going and brewed black, green, and herbal teas in six models priced $8 to $18. Tea sticks with large holding chambers made for deep flavor and easy cleanup. The best of those models were easy to fill and empty, and came equipped with trays to collect drips. Our favorite stands upright on a silicone base and has a mesh window that twists open and shut for mess-free brewing.

Update July 2012:

Our winner, the Copco Twisting Stick Infuser with Lily Pad has been discontinued. Our runner-up model is our new test kitchen pick.

___________________________________________________________

Many tea lovers in search of the perfect single cup turn to tea balls and mini basket-style infusers, brewing choices that allow loose tea leaves full exposure to hot water. Now they have new options for getting the same full-flavored cup: a spate of space-efficient tea “sticks” designed to brew single servings up to 12 ounces. We got the kettle going and brewed black, green, and herbal teas in six models priced $8 to $18. Tea sticks with large holding chambers made for deep flavor and easy cleanup. The best of those models were easy to fill and empty, and came equipped with trays to collect drips. Our favorite stands upright on a silicone base and has a mesh window that twists open and shut for mess-free brewing.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Highly Recommended

    Copco Twisting Stick Infuser with Lily Pad

    Very intuitively designed and easy to fill and clean. The wet infuser rests on a silicone “lily pad” base, and its twist-to-close feature avoided messy puddles. The large chamber had plenty of space for the tea leaves to expand for robust flavor, and the soft plastic that covered most of the infuser stayed relatively cool—a feature we greatly appreciated after being burned by other models. Dishwasher-safe on the top rack, but a quick rinse in the sink also got the job done.

    • Design ★★★
    • Function ★★★

    DISCONTINUED

  • Recommended - Winner

    Gamila The Teastick

    Simple and straightforward in design, this model’s mesh screen slid back to reveal the tea chamber, which doubled as a scoop. Large openings in the screen allowed the tea plenty of exposure to the hot water, and the screen at the top of the chamber let air escape, which meant that the leaves were completely submerged. Our only complaint: The elongated cylindrical chamber held a small amount of tea, resulting in a less flavorful brew and packed leaves that were difficult to scrape out after steeping. Dishwasher-safe.

    • Design ★★
    • Function ★★★

    $18.00

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  • Recommended with Reservations

    Tovolo Polycarbonate Tea Infuser

    An angled base resembling an egg cup conveniently held the used infuser and collected any drips. Despite the model’s winning looks, it had two problems, both caused by the top half of the tea chamber’s tendency to trap air: It occasionally displaced and forced hot water out of the cup, and instead of staying submerged, it floated, meaning that the leaves were not immersed in hot water. Dishwasher-safe.

    • Design ★★
    • Function ★★

    $9.99

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Tovolo Teago Portable Tea Press

    This syringelike model boasts an airtight chamber that holds tea for traveling and doubles as the plunger. Its fine mesh corralled smaller leaves better than any other model, and the spacious chamber allowed the leaves to fully unfurl. But figuring out how to load and discard the leaves was a challenge, and the instructions weren’t much help. Pressing water out of the tea with the plunger left us with a tightly packed mass of leaves that were difficult to clean out. After multiple uses, cracks began to appear in the plastic parts. Dishwasher-safe.

    • Design ★★★
    • Function

    $11.99

  • Not Recommended

    OGGI Tea Infuser Stick

    Sleek like a wide-barreled cigarette holder, but flawed from end to end. The long, narrow tube prevented the leaves from fully expanding, resulting in a weak cup of tea; we had to use a chopstick to dislodge the leaves once they had been steeped. The unit is not dishwasher-safe, and after brewing herbal tea, notes of cinnamon lingered after several hand washes.

    • Design
    • Function ★★

    $7.99

  • Not Recommended

    Norpro T-Stix with Tray

    Before we even got to brewing, this infuser had us scratching our heads and injuring our fingers trying to get the chamber open. Once we were able to jimmy it open, the long, narrow chamber jammed the leaves together; the resulting brew was weak, with a slightly metallic flavor. Reopening the chamber to clean it was a scary proposition, since the already difficult metal latch was now wet and searing hot. When we finally managed to spring it open, wet tea leaves exploded all over the counter. Not dishwasher-safe.

    • Design
    • Function

    $8.95

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