A tea strainer or infuser is one of the most essential kitchen tools involved in making a great cup of tea. To load the cup with the true flavors and a clean blend of the beverage, the strainer must be clean and rightly functional. However, the intricate mesh often makes it a hard deal to clean the strainers.
While a clogged infuser makes it impossible for the liquid to seep through, a discolored strainer can prove to be quite hazardous. The discoloration may be a result of the outer coating being stripped off, thereby leaching metals or minerals into the beverage.
If you are looking for a guide that explains how you can clean a tea strainer properly, all you need to do is to scroll below.
Why do Infusers and Tea Strainers Become Stained?
Theanine and Theophylline are two molecules contained in dried tea leaves. Also known as Polyphenols, the two molecules are very likely to stick to metal surfaces as they are electro-charged. This ends up in the development of natural debris on the tea strainer or infuser whenever you use it. The different chemical reactions eventually call for a thorough cleaning, just like in the case of most other food and drink items.
Stainless steel infusers are known to work much better than plastic. The fact that plastic infusers are inexpensive, most people choose to replace an old one with a new one at regular intervals rather than putting in too much effort to clean it. However, you can always go for cleaning plastic or stainless steel infusers with a bunch of methods.
Cleaning A Tea Strainer
If the tea strainer seems to be affected by light or mild staining, and you are determined to clean it – there are a handful of easy-to-follow options that will get it done in just a matter of few minutes. Apart from removing light staining, the below options work wonders to clean that mesh basket used within a teapot too.
White Vinegar Method
While this method may not get rid of all the staining, it will remove much of it for sure. All you need to do is soak the infuser in oxy clean or white vinegar for 3-4 hours. If the staining is thick, you can leave it overnight. Rinse the infuser thoroughly with water.
Baking Soda Cleaning
In a cup, combine a teaspoon of baking soda and some hot water. Further, soak the strainer in the solution for a few hours. Once you remove it from the solution, rinse the strainer well.
Alcohol is very effective in stain removal. Simply pour about one-fourth cup of Vodka in a cup, filling the rest with water. Place the infuser in the solution, leaving it overnight.
The Bleach Method
If none of the above methods seem to work good enough, then you can resort to the bleach method. In a large container, mix around one-fifth of bleach, while going for hot water for the remaining container. Place the infuser in the container, allowing it to sit there for about 15 minutes. Take the infuser out and it will look as shiny as a new one. Make sure you immediately rinse the infuser very thoroughly.
It’s essential to be extra careful while practicing the bleach method to make sure that it actually removes the stains, instead of simply bleaching them.
You can always assist the aforesaid methods with a nail brush to brush away any particles, especially if you are cleaning a perforated or mesh infuser. An old toothbrush can be quite handy to get to hard-to-reach spots while loosening those tiny sticking bits.
Cleaning Heavy Staining by Hard Brushing
In case, the strainer is heavily stained or seems to be plugged up with loads of tiny particles, you may need to go for some hard brushing. Usually, the method is adapted for stainless steel strainers or mesh infusers. However, it largely depends on the type and shape of the infuser, so it might not be equally effective for all
First of all, turn all the stained areas into a charcoal black mass by holding the infuser over a gas flame for 3 minutes. To prevent the handle from getting too hot and hurt you, make sure you use a towel to hold and move it.
The strainer might look very charred at this stage, but all you need to do is allow it to cool before advancing to the next step.
You can adapt any of the above solutions to clean the infuser. But as you are treating heavy staining, grab an old toothbrush and scrub across the mesh as hard as possible, dipping in the solution a few times.
Repeat step 3 until all the particles fall off from the mesh, rinsing the infuser thoroughly once you complete the process. What it will yield is a revived strainer or infuser.
What Not to Do with Tea Infusers
Bleaching agents can lead to the deformation of plastic infusers, so avoid using strong bleaching solutions on them. Harsh bleaching agents can make the plastic unstable or brittle. Additionally, it can leave a residue on the top layer of plastic which can blend into the tea when the strainer is used.
No matter what’s the cleaning technique that you follow, never forget to rinse the infuser properly before using it the next time.
Lastly, never go for the flame grill technique when cleaning a plastic strainer. Instead, go for a simple scrubbing of the same while you use the light staining cleaning methods.
Other Preventive Measures
To eliminate all the hassle associated with cleaning tea strainers, you can prefer going for a silicone-based infuser. The fact that Theanine and Theophylline aren’t attracted to silicone makes them very easy-to-clean with plain water or a dish liquid.
Whenever you use the infuser, clean it immediately to prevent the residue from drying.
Prevent small particles from accumulating inside the holes by lining the bottom of the tea strainer with a basket-type coffee filter.