This Is the Gear You Need to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea Every Time

We combed through our reviews to find the best tested and recommended gear to brew the perfect pot of tea.

A closeup look at the Breville tea kettle pouring water into a light blue mug
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Brewing tea might seem simple: Just plop a tea bag into a mug, fill it with hot water, and ta-da—there’s a steaming cuppa. But if you’re really into tea (or—gasp—just bought a tin of looseleaf tea by accident and are panicking a little), investing in a few pieces of gear can elevate your tea game from good to great. Plus, a lot of tea gear can pinch-hit in the coffee arena, too (like our favorite leakproof thermos and milk frother). Double the brews, double the fun, right? 

Some of Our Favorite Tea Gear, at a Glance

A Little Background on Brewing Tea

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Precision tea preparation is about more than simply adding boiling water to a mug; depending on the type of tea and what kind of drink you're making, some teas require a stew in boiling water, while others need a mellow steep in slightly less hot temps. “Most teas can simply be prepared by steeping in hot water," says Michelle Cheng, owner of Ceremony, a cafe and tea house in Providence, RI. “But if you want the best tea experience, different roasts and categories of teas will require different brewing temperatures and different types of brewing vessels.” Steep time is another important factor, and most teas will include the information on the box or tin, but if not, here are some general guidelines:

The brewing process differs greatly when making matcha, which is sifted and whisked into hot water rather than steeped. “Using water that's too hot or not hot enough can ruin matcha upon contact,” Cheng says. It’s also important to whisk vigorously, so the powder integrates into the hot water; that said, Cheng warns against over-whisking, which can cause “giant bubbles instead of microfoam.”

Our Favorite Gear for Brewing and Drinking Tea

This stovetop tea kettle from Fellow won our tests because of its comfortable, heat-proof handle (coated in sturdy silicone). Unlike some kettles, which feature spout covers you have to toggle to open, the Fellow's automatically opens when pouring, leading to a smooth, consistent stream of water (and no fussing). We also love the simple, attractive form and the harmonic whistle it makes when it hits the boiling point. 

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel, silicone
  • Stated Capacity: 1.8 quarts
  • Max Capacity: 1.95 quarts to actual max fill line (58 ounces)
  • Weight (when empty): 1 pound, 13.4 ounces
  • Weight (when at capacity): 5 pounds, 12 ounces
  • Diameter of the kettle's opening: 4 3/8 inches
  • Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 8 inches
  • Compatible cooktops: Gas, electric
The Fellow Clyde Kettle on a kitchen oven burner
Serious Eats / Eric King

Variable kettles allow the user to set a specific water temperature, so if you want a perfectly bloomed cup of oolong, this style can get your water to exactly 195°F. During testing, the Fellow Corvo quickly reached each assigned temperature, and it was super easy to use: just push the dial, then turn it to your desired temperature. We also like that this vessel can hold water at a temperature for up to an hour after heating (we even tested its accuracy in this realm, and found it was within a degree the whole time).

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel; plastic
  • Stated capacity: 0.9 liters
  • Good to know: Variable temperature range of 135°F-212°F
A hand turning the temperature control knob on the Fellow Corvo kettle
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Non-variable kettles have a simple job: bring water to a boil. In our tests, we liked this option from Breville, which heated water quickly and was super easy to use: just toggle the switch and wait to hear the ding when the water is ready.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Glass; stainless steel; plastic
  • Stated capacity: 1.7 liters
  • Good to know: Has dual-sided “water windows” with measurement markings
A closeup look at the Breville tea kettle pouring water into a light blue mug
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

If you're into looseleaf tea, a tea infuser is a handy little doodad to have in your drawer. There are two types of infusers: baskets and ball-style infusers. A ball-style infuser is separated into two halves that you fill with looseleaf tea and then lower into your cup or teapot. Our favorite ball tea infuser is from Norpro; it's easy to open, fill, close, and remove, thanks to its attached chain (and the cute mini ceramic teapot at the end).  

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Dimensions: 3 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches
  • Care instructions: Hand wash only
a mug of tea with a tea strainer in it set on a blue countertop
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

A basket is another classic type of tea infuser that rests on the lip of a tea cup or pot. The Fenshine is our top pick since it's easy to fill and clean, and it did a fabulous job keeping even the tiniest specks of tea leaves contained. Plus, we like that it has two arms that extend over the lip of the mug so the infuser stays super steady.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel and rubber
  • Includes: Infuser and lid
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe
a look at a tea strainer set on a mug of tea
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

A sturdy thermos, like this one from Zojirushi, lets us bring our (piping! hot!) tea with us wherever we’re going. And this thing can keep tea HOT: in our tests, it held hot water above 175°F for six hours—that's almost an entire workday. Plus, it's petite and leakproof, so you can toss it into your bag and don't have to worry about the lid popping open and spilling hot tea everywhere. It also comes with a lid that doubles as a cup—cute!

Key Specs

  • Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Materials: Stainless steel, plastic
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 3.5 inches
  • Stated capacity: 1 liter
  • Lid type: Cup lid
  • Care instructions: Hand wash only
A gooseneck kettle pouring hot water into a thermos
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

We love a good matcha latte: the combination of the slightly bitter matcha and the warm embrace of milk is a match[a] made in heaven (hehe). But to make a matcha (or tea or coffee) latte, you need silky microfoam that won't dissolve when it hits the hot water. Enter the frother. Our favorite is from Instant and has multiple heat and froth level settings and an easy-to-navigate interface; it also whips up smooth, luscious foam that holds its structure when poured over tea.

Key Specs

  • Capacity: 17 ounces
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.2 x 6 inches
  • Temperature settings: Cold, warm, hot
  • Foam settings: Stir only, latte, cappuccino
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe milk pitcher, wipe base clean with a damp cloth
The Instant milk frother beside a glass pitcher holding frothed milk.
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

No one likes clumpy matcha (or, at least, no one we know), and an important part of making a silky cup is vigorously whisking the powder with hot water. “If you are looking to elevate your matcha latte at home,” says Cheng, “then investing in a good whisk is crucial.”

Key Specs

  • Material: Bamboo
  • Dimensions: 4 x 2.3 inches
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

“My go-to vessel to brew tea is a porcelain Gaiwan,” says Cheng. “Gaiwans are very versatile; they can be used to brew an unroasted oolong or an aged pu-erh.” This Chinese vessel consists of a bowl with a lid and a saucer, a kind of hybrid tea cup/pot. To use it, the bowl is warmed with hot water before rinsed tea leaves are added; then, hot water is poured inside and the lid is set on top as the tea steeps, You can pour tea into separate cups to serve, using the lid to catch the tea leaves, or simply drink it straight from the Gaiwan itself.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Glazed ceramic
  • Dimensions: 3.75 x 3.25 inches
  • Stated capacity: 4 ounces

While you can sip tea from your favorite mug (you know, the one with a sassy saying on it), sometimes it's nice to kick it up a notch with an elegant cup and saucer. This set from Pilivuyt has a classic look and, since it's made of ceramic, has great heat retention.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Porcelain
  • Saucer diameter: 6.25 inches
  • Stated cup capacity: 10 ounces

FAQs

Do different teas require different water temperatures?

The short answer is yes; different teas require different water temperatures for optimal flavor. Herbal teas, for example, require boiling water to express their subtleties, while green tea sings with temperatures between 150°F to 180°F.

How long should you steep tea?

Tea steeping times vary according to tea type. Generally, steeping ranges from two to eight minutes. Green tea requires the least amount of time–two to four minutes–while oolong requires the commitment of five to eight minutes. Black teas, white teas, and herbal teas range from four to six minutes.

Is an electric kettle or stovetop kettle better?

Neither is better. Electric kettles are plugged in and, if they’re a variable temperature kettle, can be set to a specific water temperature. They often turn off after a set period of time, so you can set it and forget it (though your water might go cold). Stovetop kettles, as their name implies, are heated on a stovetop, making them a simpler (though often longer) way of brewing hot water.  

Why We’re the Experts 

  • Abigail Clarkin is a contributing writer for Serious Eats. 
  • She is an avid tea drinker and has quite a collection of teas and tea gear. She’s also tested tea infusers for Serious Eats. 
  • For this story, Abigail interviewed Michelle Cheng, owner of Ceremony, a tea shop in Providence, Rhode Island.
  • We've written extensively about tea and tea-adjacent products over the years, including kettles of all kinds.
  • Grace Kelly is a commerce editor for Serious Eats.
  • She's tested a ton of gear, including grilling tongs, Deba knives, and tamagoyaki pans.