Although the best way to make tea is to allow leaves to steep loose in the pot and then strain with a fine-meshed strainer and although there are other infuser aids, brew baskets are so convenient to use and easy to clean that every tea drinker should own at least one good one. This list is to acquaint you with some of the various basket infusers available and covers Chatsford, SwissGold, & Teeli/Finum baskets, glass infusers, the People's Brew Basket by The Republic of Tea, and others.
a. Chatsford mug strainer basket
(only) at Upton, #AS11:
Chatsford mug strainer basket with lid at Upton, #AS31:
or the Chatsford mug strainer basket kit at Upton, #AS91: http://preview.tinyurl.com/4lrfe
or the basket that comes with a Chatsford teapot.
b. SwissGold TF300:
the larger TF500: http://www.swissgold.com/e/t_produkt05.php
1. They're the next best to steeping leaves loose in the pot or cup allowing both good circulation and convenient removal of the leaves.
2. They make multiple infusions neat and easy. Determining the best brew time for a new tea is simple when one has only to pull out the basket to stop infusion, taste, and reinsert the basket to continue steeping if a stronger brew is desired.
3. Their extremely fine meshes retain rooibos and other small leaf particles producing clean beverages.
4. They're easy to clean, just rinse with warm water.
5. They're made of durable plastics and metals.
6. The lids of the SwissGold and Teeli/Finum baskets help retain heat while steeping and double as a drip tray after.
1. While the basket for the Chatsford mug is also available alone or in a kit to use with non-Chatsford mugs, the teapot baskets fit only Chatsford teapots except for the basket for the 2-cup teapot which may also be used in cups.
1. When used in a glass teapot, a glass infuser allows unrestricted viewing of the agony of the leaves.
2. Easy to clean - tea stains aren't an issue and odors don't linger.
1. Glass infusers get hot, may be uncomfortable to remove easily with bare fingers.
2. With only small slits typically down around the bottom, water doesn't circulate through the leaves as well as with mesh baskets and rooibos tends to get stuck in the slits inhibiting circulation even more.
3. The slits aren't small enough to prevent leaf pieces from passing through. Not recommended for those who prefer a clean beverage.
4. While rooibos and small leaf particles may be dislodged from other brew baskets easily, a small brush such as a toothbrush, is required to remove rooibos stuck in the slits of glass infusers.
5. Glass is breakable - duh!
1. The extremely fine mesh retains rooibos and other small leaves producing a clean beverage.
2. Ideal size for certain travel mugs and tumblers if you want to make your own tea traveler.
1. The narrow ridge and lack of tab(s) permit the basket to slip to the bottom of teapots and regular mugs making it unsuitable for all but regular cups or certain travel mugs or tumblers. Even in cups, it's awkward to retrieve and a spoon or other utensil is required to fish it out. Not recommended except maybe with a traveler because it's such a PITB and overall waste of money. Get a Chatsford, SwissGold, or Teeli/Finum basket instead.
2. Rooibos and other fine leaves tend to get stuck in the seams. Why bother when you can get something better and more versatile?
1. Likely to fit the teapots they come with better than any others.
1. Perforations in ceramic baskets, the coarser mesh of wire baskets, and the weave of wooden baskets allow rooibos and other fine leaf particles to escape. Not recommended for those who like a clean brew.
2. Many don't have the depth of a Chatsford, Finum/Teeli, or SwissGold basket so leaves don't have enough room to perform their ballet and water can't circulate as thoroughly.
3. These other brew baskets don't usually have a tab or other easy means to grasp and retrieve the basket from the pot, cup, or mug, but must be carefully fished out.
Those with sensitive noses may notice a wooden smell imparted to teas
steeped in wooden baskets.
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