Whether you’re new to the world of tea and didn’t know that you needed an infuser or you simply forgot to pick one up along with your latest loose tea haul, you might find yourself in a bind.
How will you be able to enjoy your delicious tea without the proper tools? It’s a dilemma that nearly every tea lover has found themselves in.
Before you collapse into a mental breakdown, rest assured that there are still ways to drink your tea. All it takes is a little creativity and a few household items you likely already have laying around.
1 – Try it the Old-Fashioned Way
In ancient China, tea was always brewed without an infuser. Instead of filtering their tea, the ancient Chinese brewed their tea in what is known as a “Gaiwan.” A Gaiwan is essentially a large ceramic teapot with a wide top.
In order to strain your tea leaves, all you need to do is place a saucer or plate over the pot, and pour. The top serves as a makeshift filter and is just as effective as using an infuser.
An authentic Gaiwan would be ideal in this case but these days, it’s likely that you don’t have one of these nifty pots lying around. Don’t fret; you can always improvise.
A regular teapot without the lid would be your best bet but a regular coffee or tea mug works too. You can even give it a try with a small bowl!
The steps are easy to follow: add your tea leaves (bigger tea leaves work better) and add hot water. Once you’ve steeped the tea leaves to your liking, grab a plate with a similar width as the top of the pot and use it to strain the leaves.
You may want to practice this method a few times using cold water in order to master it before trying it with boiling-hot water. Otherwise, you may burn yourself, which would make enjoying your tea very difficult.
2 – Use a French Press
If you’re just as much a fan of coffee as you are of tea, perhaps you already own a French press. Although these little devices are typically used for brewing coffee, they work just as well with tea leaves.
Just as you would with regular coffee grounds, add the tea leaves to the bottom of the French press. Next up, add your boiling water. Let the tea leaves steep for a bit before pushing the press down to strain them. Next, pour into your mug.
This method works well for people who prefer cold tea as you can simply leave the press in the fridge for a few hours and voila! Instant iced tea, not to mention that the extra time steeping will make your tea that much more flavorful.
3 – Coffee Filters Work for Tea Too!
While on the topic of coffee, let’s talk about coffee filters. Usually reserved for your coffee pot, coffee filters are just as useful when making tea. Although you can brew your tea in a coffee pot, you’re less likely to get coffee grounds in your tea if you use the coffee filter on its own.
For this method, you’re going to want to grab your trusty tea mug and your favorite loose-leaf tea. Grab your paper coffee filter and place it inside the mug.
Next, add the tea leaves. Follow it up by pouring over hot water and letting it steep. See? Just the same as coffee!
After enough time, your tea should be ready to go. Take the filter out, leaves and all, and enjoy! Bonus points if you use a spoon to press down on the tea-filled coffee filter to extract as much water from it as possible.
4 – Double Cup it up!
This method is very similar to the Gaiwan method. Instead of using a teapot and saucer, however, all you will need are two mugs.
Put the tea leaves into one mug, then fill it with hot water. Once it has steeped long enough, start pouring into the empty mug. Use the edge of the mug to filter out any of the leaves.
Be warned that this method tends to get a little messy. We recommend doing this over your sink just in case you get a lot of spillage.
5 – Invest in Your Own Tea Bags
If you’re more on the DIY side of things, you may be interested in bagging your own tea. You can purchase tea filter bags that come ready for you to fill them with your favorite loose-leaf teas.
Keep in mind that going with this method can be tedious and time-consuming. However, if you’ve got the time and the patience (or enough helpers), you can make yourself enough homemade tea bags that you’ll never have to worry about finding an infuser again!
6 – Dig Through Your Kitchen Drawers for a Suitable Replacement
Anyone with a well-stocked kitchen is sure to have a strainer somewhere. It’s a cooking essential that you or someone you know is bound to have.
While it might not be meant for straining loose-leaf teas, it does a perfectly good job of it.
You’ll also need a tea pot or two mugs for this to be a success. Once you have everything you need, place the tea leaves in the mug or tea pot and let it steep.
Follow up by pouring over the strainer and into a clean mug. If you don’t have a strainer, you can follow this same method by using a cheesecloth, which works just as well.
7 – Dig up a Spork!
A spork, a fork’s cooler older cousin, also makes a great alternative to a tea infuser. What’s better is that you can stop by most fast-food chains and pick one up if you don’t already have one in your junk drawer.
Sporks are more useful thank forks because they have not onlyteeth but also a scoop that will catch any of the bigger tea leaves.
8 – Flour Sifters Aren’t Just for Baking
Bakers and tea lovers alike, listen up! Your flour sifter isn’t just for baking! That’s right — you read this right. If you’re short a tea infuser but absolutely need to have tea right this very moment, now’s your time to put that flour sifter to use.
This works similarly to a strainer, in which you simply use the flour sifter to strain your tea leaves. Be wary when using this method, though, as some tea leaves may be too small to be strained and might still end up in your mug.
9 – Paper Towels Can Do More Than Just Clean up Your Messes
Paper towels are something that nearly everyone has handy. They’re ideal for cleaning up messes, wiping down surfaces, and making tea!
Similar to a cheesecloth, paper towels can filter your loose-leaf tea to give you that perfect cup of tea that you’ve been craving.
Even if you don’t have paper towels, a napkin will get the job done just as well. You can use a paper towel or napkin as you would a coffee filter. Place it in a mug, add the tea leaves, then pour over the hot water. Let steep.
Once it’s sat long enough, take out the paper towel. Be careful not to leave it in too long as the paper towel could start to disintegrate right into your mug.
10 – Water Bottle Tea Infusers Are Your Best Friend
If you’re looking for a way to make your loose-leaf tea on the go but don’t want to deal with anything that involves strainers, paper towels, or too many mugs, you can always invest in a water bottle tea infuser.
These are another way to make delicious iced tea and work by filling up the infuser in the middle of the water bottle with tea leaves.
Add water, and let sit. You can drink it hot or cold; just make sure that your water bottle isn’t made of plastic if you’re adding hot water.
With a water bottle infuser, you can easily take your favorite beverage around with you anywhere you go.
11 – Aluminum Foil: Not Just for Saving Leftovers
Aluminum foil is one of those materials that is easy to manipulate. You can mold it into just about any shape that you can imagine.
The good news is that you can also mold it into a tea infuser when you’re lacking one. All you need to do is roll your loose-leaf tea into an aluminum foil ball and then poke holes in it.
Once you’ve done that, you can pour water over it and let it steep.
12 – The Last Resort
If you’ve reached your wits’ end and simply don’t have any of the aforementioned items in your possession, you can always just suck it up and drink your tea unfiltered. It might not be ideal but your tea will taste just the same, if not better.
The worst that could happen is you get a few tea leaves stuck in your teeth! Plus, once you’re done, you can read your tea leaves and find out what the future has in store for you (hopefully, a new tea leaf infuser!).
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.