The Best Zero-Waste Tea Accessories of 2022

Ditch single-use waste with these infusers, steepers, and more.

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steeping tea in a clear cup with an infuser

Yagi Studio / Getty

Whether you enjoy black, green, white, oolong or even herbal, making tea is a comforting ritual. However, the convenience of tea bags has made one of the world's most popular beverages considerably worse for the environment. Originally made from silk, today's tea bags are too often made from plastic materials and sealed with a plastic glue. These non-biodegradable bags can shed billions of plastic micro and nanoparticles into your tea.

A better option is to explore loose-leaf teas and the accompanying tools to prepare the perfect, clean, and zero-waste cup of chai. Ahead, our pick of accessories to brew a proverbial storm in your cup, with minimal waste.

Best Infuser: David's Tea Gold Perfect Infuser

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David's Tea Gold Perfect Infuser

David's Tea

David's Tea is building a community of tea lovers and is working towards a sustainable tea industry as a part of the Ethical Tea Partnership. We love the brand's stylish tea accessories, especially this blingy, gold-coated stainless steel tea infuser that’s just right for one cup (or large mug) of tea.

Our testers found its design keeps the small tea leaves from floating into your cup, while letting the larger leaves swim in the expansive space, resulting in a lushly flavored cup of tea. To clean, just scoop out the leaves and pop it in the dishwasher. However, steer clear of sticking the infuser in the microwave.

"I own two infusers from David's Tea, and use them nearly every day. I find this style of infuser much easier to clean than the ball-and-clasp kind, because you can just turn it over and knock the leaves right into your compost bucket, without fiddling with a lid." ~ Margaret Badore, Treehugger Associate Editorial Director

Best Kettle: Cuisinart PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle

4.8
Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp 1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle
Amazon.

This slick and versatile 1.7-liter electric kettle from Cuisinart comes with six preset heat settings so that you can prepare a cup of relaxing Oolong, a mug of stimulating French press coffee, or even a carafe full of bitter black brew at their ideal temperatures.

Selected the Best Tea Kettle by Treehugger, it is BPA-free and made from stainless steel. It also has a convenient backlit water window, so that you don’t end up burning the kettle. What’s more, this 1500 watts cordless kettle can be powered up quickly to boil water in just a few minutes. If you’re a slow tea drinker like me who savors every sip, the ‘Keep Warm’ button maintains the set temperature for 30-minutes, so that your second cup of tea is as sublime as the first. Our editors find it's well worth the price tag.

Best Tea Cup: West Elm Plano Teacup

West Elm Plano Teacup

West Elm

There’s nothing better than a cup and saucer to slurp a cup of chai. Our pick is the rustic Plano Teacup from West Elm. It is made from surplus clay by the innovative, sustainable stoneware brand, Costa Nova, in Portugal.

The stoneware is safe to pop into the dishwasher and is microwaveable. The minimal 6 ounce cup is made from a single-fired production that saves energy and reduces emissions, manufactured following socially conscious and ethical business practices. It’s a classic companion that elevates the tea experience.  

Best Travel Mug: Stanley Adventure Shortstack Travel Mug

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Stanley Short-Stack Mug

Stanley

Over-a-century old, Stanley Adventure is committed to creating simple, sustainable, and stylish long-lasting containers for on-the-go. If you’re constantly dashing to work with a scalding cup of tea spilling about, you need to get the nifty 8-ounce lightweight shortstack travel mug.

Rated as the Best Travel Mug by Treehugger staffers, it’s available in two shades of Hammertone Ice and Matte Black. Affixed with clever two-piece screw-on leakproof lids, it has a drink-thru system. With a double-wall vacuum insulation, whether you want your tea hot, cold, or iced, the BPA-free mug delivers for hours at a stretch. The durable mug is rust-proof thanks to the heavy-duty stainless steel.

Best Ball-Style Infuser: Oxo Brew Twisting Tea Ball Infuser

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OXO Brew Twisting Tea Ball Infuser

OXO

Oxo’s kitchen tools are innovatively designed to navigate pain points. If you’ve struggled with crudely made hinges and clasps of other ball infusers, you’ll appreciate their twisting tea ball infuser. It is ideal to portion the right amount of leaf, and can be twisted by turning the end of the handle to close tightly. The twisting tea ball’s long, graceful neck makes it possible to use in a variety of mugs and cups. What’s more, thanks to the design, the BPA-free, stainless steel tea ball is dishwasher safe and easy to clean.

Best Over-the-Cup Strainer: Mark T. Wendell Tea Company Extra Fine Stainless Steel Tea Strainer

Mark T. Wendell Tea Company Extra Fine Stainless Steel Tea Strainer

Package Free Shop

Prepare your tea fuss-free with this practical, over-the-cup stainless steel strainer. It is 7.5 inches long with a 2.25 inch diameter conical shaped, mesh straining basket. It rests comfortably in most cups, without any messy spillage or overflow. You can use it to brew herbs, spices, and tea (as well as to strain tea prepared in a pot), replacing the need for filters or teabags. However, the manufacturer recommends you don’t keep it soaked for too long. The strainer comes package free.

Best Reusable Tea Bags: Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Reusable Nut Milk, Coffee, & Tea Straining Bags

Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Reusable Nut Milk, Coffee, & Tea Straining Bags

Amazon

If you like a tea bag dangling in your cup to brew a flavorsome decoction, consider Simple Ecology’s GOTS certified organic cotton muslin tea bags. These little tea bags (3.5 x 5.5 inches) can be filled with a blend of tea, herbs, and masalas to create your perfect mix.

The durable pouches come with a super strong exterior overlock stitching, so that any tea leaves or debris don’t get pried in the seams. The rounded corners also prevent debris from settling in crevices. The tea bags are shipped in reusable envelopes made from sustainable kraft paper, while the receipts are printed on tree-free repurposed sugar cane pulp paper, which can be composted. So, you can dip and sip guilt-free.

Best for Iced Tea: Hario Cold Brew Tea Portable Bottle

Hario Cold Brew Tea Portable Bottle

Amazon

With over a century-old history of creating heat proof glass glassware, Japanese company Hario also offers a wide range of tea and coffee products to satiate every need. If you enjoy cold tea, then Hario’s cold brew tea portable bottle comes with a brewing basket tea strainer is for you. Simple to use, just add tea leaves in the brewing basket strainer, add water, and pop the pot into the fridge overnight for a refreshing brew you can take on the go.

Final Verdict

We love the stylish tea accessories from David's Tea, especially the blingy, gold-colored stainless steel tea infuser that’s just right for one-cup of tea. The Cuisinart Tea Kettles PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle is a slick and versatile 1.7-liter electric kettle that comes with six preset heat settings.

What to Look for in Zero-Waste Tea Accessories

Keep your tea ritual simple while keeping your selection of teas incredible. Whether you’re exploring the world of black, white, green, oolong or herbal teas, these need to be in your scullery:

A tea kettle

Pick a stove top kettle or an electric kettle depending on convenience and efficiency. Else, you can make do with a simple saucepan also.

An infuser/reusable tea bag or a teapot

If you enjoy the entire tea ceremony and drink copious amounts of tea, a tea pot with an infuser gives you several cups at one go. (Though remove the infuser after five minutes or so, depending on your taste, otherwise the tea can taste bitter.) Another option is to dunk an infuser/reusable tea bag in your cup and you’re good to sip.

A tea cup or a mug

Depending on your preference, pick what suits your style. For milk tea I prefer a tea cup and saucer, but for herbal tea, I am partial to a mug or a porcelain cup.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are tea bags wasteful?

    After water, the second most consumed beverage in the world is tea.

    In 2020, a staggering 3.8 billion gallons of tea, amounting to over 84 billion servings, were consumed by Americans. Bagged tea is quite popular, and in 2017, around 87% of the tea launched in the North American market was in the teabag format. Despite its convenience, a teabag can contribute to the pollution caused by single-use plastic.

    For a more eco-friendly cup of tea, minimize your waste by choosing loose leaf, savoring the flavor (most can be brewed more than once) and chucking the remnants in your compost bin.  

  • What is the best way to steep herbal teas like rooibos?

    If you love flavors of the earth, namely fruits, herbs, flowers, and spices, then you’ll love them in your tea. Whether you enjoy sipping on ginger or lemongrass infusions, or on rooibos or chamomile teas, there is no set brewing time or temperature for herbal teas. What’s best is to refer to the instructions given with the tea (or follow your own palate if you’re steeping fresh herbs) and adjust the taste to your preference.

    That said, some experts suggest brewing herbal teas for five to seven minutes. A study points out that steep time directly influences the total polyphenol content (antioxidants such as catechins, theaflavins, tannins, and flavonoids) in a tea, and recommends that tea should be steeped for at least five minutes.

Why Trust Treehugger?

For this piece, we researched the market to find the best tools for you to brew loose leaf tea and avoid single-use items. Our team also tests top products, and shares our first-hand experiences.

Author Neeti Mehra is a sustainability consultant who is committed to reducing her environmental footprint.

View Article Sources
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  2. Tea Fact Sheet 2021.” Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.

  3. Krischke, Udo. “The Hidden Plastic in Teabags.SGS Société Générale De Surveillance SA, SGS SA.

  4. Yan, Zhaoming, et al. “Antioxidant Mechanism of Tea Polyphenols and Its Impact on Health Benefits.Animal Nutrition, vol. 6, no. 2, 2020, pp. 115–123., doi: 10.1016/j.aninu.2020.01.001

  5. McAlpine, Michael, and Wendy Ward. “Influence of Steep Time on Polyphenol Content and Antioxidant Capacity of Black, Green, Rooibos, and Herbal Teas.Beverages, vol. 2, no. 3, 2016, p. 17., doi: 10.3390/beverages2030017