While glass gaiwans have been available from several online vendors for some time, beaker-shaped tea infusers like this one from Grand Tea are gaining in popularity.
The simple aesthetic gives the feel of a beautiful experiment. The glass infuser places the dancing agony of the leaves on full display, and the pouring style that uses the side knobs can be done with a graceful air.
So is this glass infuser for you?
The 150 ml (5 oz) Grand Tea Tea Infuser is currently listed for $12 USD and has 3 parts. The outer beaker has a spout for easy pouring. Tea leaves are placed in the inner beaker that has paper-thin slots in the bottom where the beaker’s wall meets the base. The lid doubles as a rest for the inner beaker between steeps. The product description does not explicitly state the glass is borosilicate, but tests indicate it does have a degree of heat-resistance.
Besides its basic elegance, the Tea Infuser has a few things going for it. It does allow for a controlled pour with few or no drips. Because it is glass, the transparency lets you see how the steep is progressing, and the ease of removing the inner beaker means you can easily control steep time.
I have seen other beaker-type infusers where the inner beaker is made of ceramic and the outer beaker is glass. Glass on glass would seem preferable, as contact friction between the two beakers is bound to happen when inserting and removing the inner beaker. In many cases, I actually ended up lifting the inner beaker, tilting it, and resting its bottom on the top rim of the outer beaker to let remaining drops of liquor drain.
Size will be a factor for some tea drinkers. Tea placed within the inner beaker can occupy a significant amount of real estate, leaving less room for tea liquor. Expansion space is a consideration also if wulongs will be steeped in the infuser. Rolled wulongs can expand upward, but the weight of leaves above may keep lower leaves compacted in the column.
Be careful also about cleanup. If the glass accumulates a stain, you may need a narrow sponge or bottle scrubber for thorough cleaning. Keep a toothbrush handy for cleaning out the drainage slots on the inner beaker. Sometimes a leaf particle can get lodged there.
While the knobs on the outer beaker allow pouring without touching the hot glass, some may find the method awkward. Wet, slippery knobs or fingers may reduce the chances of a smooth pour.
Overall, Grand Tea’s Tea Infuser may be worthwhile for frequent sips where minimal space and a touch of simplicity are in order.
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