What Is a Tea Strainer?

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Last Updated on January 23, 2023 by Scott

What is a tea strainer? This would be the first thing you’ll ask when steeping loose leaf tea. To help you prepare a good cup of tea, we’re going to explain what a tea strainer is, along with its types, benefits, and how to use it.

A tea strainer is a small steeping device you place over a cup to catch loose tea leaves. Like a typical strainer, a tea strainer gets all the leaves out of the pot when pouring tea into a cup. 

When brewing tea in a teapot, you won’t be using teabags to contain the leaves. Hence, the tea leaves remain freely suspended in the water. Since you won’t be needing the leaves when you drink the tea, you should use a strainer to collect and remove the leaves.

What is the History of Tea Strainers?

Tea strainers became popular as early as the 18th century, as people looked for ways to catch tea leaves before they hit the base of cups.

In those days, tea bags had not been developed yet so the only way to make tea was with loose tea leaves. Unless you wanted to chew on leaves as you sip your tea, the only option was to strain the leaves out of your tea before drinking. 

The use of tea accessories dates back to when Dutch merchants made tea more easily obtainable in the Western world. As British royals increased the drink’s popularity, even spreading it to American colonies, the demand for tea accessories also grew.

However, it was in the 19th century when stainless steel tea strainers gained widespread attention. Some companies produced sterling silver strainers for well-off families, while others mass-produced stainless steel strainers for a lower price.

A tea strainer used for fruit teas
Stainless Steel Tea Strainer

What Are the Different Types of Tea Strainers?

You can find many different types of tea strainers depending on what you are looking for. Some are great for everyday use while others are collector’s items that you may want to add to a tea set collection. 

Here are some of the different types of tea strainers you are likely to encounter: 

Everyday Tea Strainers

Nowadays, a tea strainer comes in a variety of materials and designs. The type of tea strainer you choose will depend on your preference and what is important to you when you are brewing tea. You may even decide to invest in a few different tea strainers to see how they are different.

The strainers on the market today have come a long way from traditional bamboo and linen tea strainers. They have evolved over time and can be found in a variety of different materials including gold plating, porcelain, line, stainless steel, mesh, and even silicone.

Antique or Collector’s Tea Strainers

You may also see antique sterling silver strainers for a more ornate touch, particularly if you love collecting tea sets. Some of these are almost too beautiful to use, but they work just the same.

Tea Strainers With Extra Features

Furthermore, strainers can have either long or short handles. Some tea strainers also have a nest or infuser. These features can be fun to play around with and find what you like best for brewing tea at home. 

In addition to the small holes that trap the bulk of leaves, some tea strainers include fine mesh to hold smaller particles or torn leaves. This is perfect if you don’t like getting leafy residue on your cups.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Tea Strainer?

The global tea market expects growth of $318 billion by 2025. With such growth comes a potential introduction of more tea accessories.

Although there are new tea products coming on the market every day, most people find that you can’t beat the simplicity of a tea strainer. They work well, they are inexpensive, and they are easy to store in your tea cabinet. 

A tea strainer will likely remain as one of the essential tools for brewing tea because of its several benefits.

  • Versatility: Unlike an infuser, a tea strainer enables you to steep loose leaf tea in any kind of brewing tool, whether a teapot or kettle.
  • Excellent filtration: Other tea infusers tend to have large holes, letting bits of loose leaves get into the water. The good thing is that most tea strainers have smaller holes, ensuring you don’t end up with a mouthful of loose leaves when drinking a cup of tea.
  • Easy to clean: It doesn’t take a lot of effort to clean tea strainers, especially stainless steel ones. You can even put them directly in a dishwasher. You won’t have to worry about stains or rust. Also, the simple design makes it easy to make sure the strainer is clean before storing it for the next use. 
  • Reusable: You might only use tea sticks, filters, and tea bags once or twice. On the other hand, a tea strainer saves you money by allowing you to reuse it countless times. You only have to buy it one time and it will last you many years of tea brewing. 
  • Gorgeous designs: While aesthetics should be a bonus factor, part of the brewing experience is choosing the accessories you like. The color, material, and style of various tea strainers may add to the joy of preparing a cup of tea. You can choose tea strainers that meet your personal style and try out different materials until you find one that you love. 

How to Use a Tea Strainer

Aside from water, tea is among the most widely consumed beverages in the world. In fact, you can find tea in nearly 80% of American households.

Although tea is a very popular beverage, many people are daunted by the thought of making their own loose leaf tea at home. They may feel that they need all kinds of fancy things to brew it when in reality all you need is the tea of your choice and a good quality strainer to get the job done. 

With that said, let’s go over how you can best prepare a hot or iced tea with the help of a tea strainer.

  1. Depending on your preference, put about 1 tablespoon of loose tea leaves in the strainer.
  2. Place the tea strainer over the cup. 
  3. Pour hot water directly on top of the tea strainer.
  4. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes (or per the instructions for your chosen tea), or depending on how strong you like your tea. The longer you steep, the more flavor you will get.
  5. Let the water go through the tiny holes of the strainer. The tea strainer would prevent the leaves from entering the cup.
  6. Lift the tea strainer from the cup.
  7. Optional — Add milk, citrus fruits, or maple syrup.
  8. Drink up, and pair your tea with finger sandwiches or scones.

Another way is to brew a pot of tea in a teapot. Then, put the tea strainer on top of a cup. As you pour the tea into the cup, let the strainer filter out the leaves and residue. 

A tea strainer placed on a table with a clear glass tea pot and tea cup
Tea Strainer | Tea Accesories

Frequently Asked Questions About Tea Strainers

Q. What’s the Difference Between a Tea Strainer and Tea Infuser?

Tea strainers are usually placed over a cup, whereas infusers are typically submerged in a cup or a pot when brewing. Another difference is that strainers let leaves stay freely in the water, while infusers prevent loose leaves from floating around.

Q. How Should I Choose a Tea Strainer?

Choose an easy-to-clean strainer since the leaves may get stuck in crevices. It’s also crucial that you consider the size of the holes, as smaller holes mean fewer leaves will flow. Finally, make sure a tea strainer has a deep indent so that the tea leaves won’t spill over quickly.

Q. What Steeping Accessories Can I Use Aside from a Tea Strainer?

Aside from a tea strainer, you can steep leaves using infuser balls, infusing spoons, brew baskets, and tea bags. You can also use tea eggs, paper filters, cotton filters, and stick infusers.

Q. Are Stainless Steel Tea Strainers Good? 

Stainless steel is a popular material for tea strainers because it holds up well and is easy to clean. As long as the tea strainer is made from food-grade stainless steel, you can expect it to last a long time and resist rust. 


A tea strainer aims to make your tea brewing experience simpler and much more fun than just dropping a tea bag in your cup. Many people find the experience of brewing fresh tea using a tea strainer to be a soothing and relaxing experience. 

Tea strainers are incredibly versatile because you can make many different types of tea from the same strainer in just a few minutes right at home.  Make sure to use it properly, and you can even reuse your loose tea leaves next time.

We hope this can help encourage you to add a tea strainer to your collection of tea accessories!

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