Steel tea ball strainers
Not in a long time. I don’t like them because no matter what I do they always leak leaves. I tend to make only one cup at a time so size has never been an issue (mine was pretty large) but I prefer to use a large built in infuser or T-Sac if I can. I’m too lazy to strain the leaves, I really appreciate some convenience. :)
I hate them. As soon as i discovered brew baskets i never looked back.
I agree about the baskets. Tea balls and spoons are indeed like “prisons.” I use the basket for my go-to tumbler more frequently than the other infusers, which I save for teas with small/ctc leaves.
YES! But you have to use the larger ones, meant for commercial use.
Definitely the smaller ones we see everywhere for sale are simply not big enough for the expanding tea leaves. But I found this one (see link below) years ago, and it works very well when making an individual cup of tea. It is much bigger than the others. It is like 4″×2″. It has enough room for tea leaves to expand fully, with a bit of room left over:
When I bought it (and we are talking 7+ years ago probably), it was marketed for use in commercial kitchens, for using the cheaper quality tea & making several gallons of iced tea at a time. But I found it works really well with whole leaves for just an individual cup or two. The oblong shape allows it to fit into your cup very easily.
Nowadays they seem to be marketed as herb/spice balls/infusers. Just do a search for any combination of those search terms and it will open up a whole new selection of choices.
I only use a tea ball for steeping spices for soup. It works well for that purpose, but I’ve never had a tea ball that didn’t leak leaves.
I don’t even know what happened to my tea ball. I use my press for most everything. And a Finum for herbals or very finely cut black tea. I personally don’t think a CTC black would suffer terribly from a tea ball. If you enjoy the convenience who cares what others think? I still enjoy plain old tea bags on occasion. So your mileage may vary.