Isn’t it crazy how irritating some little things in life can be?
Because I love food and cooking, a lot of those little things happen in the kitchen.
Like a dull knife that dents a tomato instead of cutting it. Or a can opener that only opens half the can and then quits.
Or a tea ball that suddenly pops open and drops loose hibiscus tea leaves all over my kitchen floor.
When The Ball Breaks
Oh man, those tea balls. (Also known as tea infusers.)
When they work correctly, they are just great. They let you steep loose tea without any of the mess of loose leaves floating around in your teapot.
If you haven’t used them before, here’s how it works: you put the tea in the tea ball, make the tea, and take out the ball when the tea has steeped long enough.
This way you avoid over-brewing the tea. Then you open the tea ball over the trash can and dump out the used leaves without creating a mess in your sink. A quick rinse under the tap and you’re done.
The basic, stainless steel mesh tea ball I used to buy worked just fine…for about a month, or maybe two.
Then the cheaply soldered clasp would break, and I’d have another useless little ball of steel mesh to throw out. And buy a new one. Sure, they only cost a couple bucks, but who wants to buy a new tea infuser every other month? That’s like buying new teacups every month because the old ones keep breaking when you look at them wrong.
A Tea Infuser That Won’t Break
Luckily, one day I found a steel mesh tea infuser that I won’t have to throw out. Because it doesn’t break!
There’s no cheap soldered-on clasp and hinge, just a twist lock that is part of the infuser itself.
I got mine a year and a half ago, and I’ve bought three more in different sizes for friends and family. All are still working perfectly. This is the Twist-Lock Tea Infuser, and I recommend it highly.
The Twist-Lock Tea Infuser tea ball comes in three sizes, and none of them are small: they run from Large to Extra Large to Jumbo.
I love this, because a lot of the tea balls you can buy are too small. They’re maybe an inch in diameter, and that means there is no room for the tea to expand inside.
Why Size Matters
Tea needs room! Many people don’t realize that you’re not supposed to fill a tea ball to the brim. The more room there is left inside, the better. That’s why large tea balls are so useful. You never need to fill them more than halfway.
When your tea infuser is half full, the full flavor and fragrance releases because the tea leaves have room to expand.
This doesn’t happen when they’re trapped and compacted in a tiny ball. And with tea that has large leaves, or herbal teas, this is especially important. For hibiscus tea made from hibiscus flowers, you absolutely need a large tea infuser.
A handy rule here is: get the largest size tea infuser that will still fit inside your teapot.
To figure out which size to get, look at the diameter of the tea infuser, then measure the diameter of your teapot opening.
The diameter of the teapot’s opening should be at least half an inch larger than the diameter of the tea infuser! That way it can’t get stuck, and you can easily drop the infuser into the pot.
Large Twist-Lock Tea Infuser
Diameter: 3 inches
Height: 2.5 inches
Length of the chain: 8 inches
Extra Large Twist-Lock Tea Infuser
Diameter: 4.25 inches
Height: 3.5 inches
Length of the chain: 7 inches
Jumbo Size Twist-Lock Tea Infuser
Diameter: 5 inches
Height: 4 inches
Length of the chain: 7 inches
5 Reasons Why I Love These Tea Infusers
- simple, effective twist-lock closure that won’t break or snap off
- doesn’t come open inside the teapot
- larger size means more room for tea to expand
- durable steel and steel mesh construction
- extremely easy to clean
Creative Ways to Use a Tea Ball
You can use these large tea balls for other things than making tea.
I haven’t tried it myself, but some people use them to make soup. Really!
Put herbs and spices like laurel leaves, parsley and peppercorns in the tea ball, then drop it into the pan. As the soup simmers, the herbs and spices infuse it with flavor, and it’s easy to take out the tea ball when the soup is ready to eat. Much better than fishing around for soggy leaves with a fork.
You can also use the infuser to steep fragrant herbs or flowers in your bath without creating a mess in your bathtub. And I have heard you can even use them to brew beer.
Where to Buy Twist-Lock Tea Infusers
You can buy these twist-lock tea infusers at Amazon, where they have great reviews: