One of the reasons so many people opt for tea infusers, strainers, and mesh balls to brew their loose leaf tea is the convenience. Who wants to spend ages washing out a teapot every day? No one. But unfortunately, those metal tea infusers have a big downfall. Tea stains.
It only takes a few uses before they stain!
The tea stains look unappealing, even though they don’t impact the flavour of your tea when you wash out the mesh properly. So, here are three ways to lift those stains for shiny new teaware!
Baking Soda Method
First, don’t just do a soak. That won’t work – I know from personal experience.
Second, by baking soda I’m talking about bicarbonate of soda. Baking soda is the American name for it. Baking powder (the British stuff) isn’t the same. It’s made of bicarb with added components, like cornflower. It’s not as effective, so just stick to bicarb.
Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of bicarb with water until you have a paste consistency. You might need more if you have a large tea strainer or many infusers to clean.
Next, use a brush to scrub this paste into the tea strainers. A vegetable cleaner or stiff scrubbing brush will be perfect. Make sure you really activate the paste and get it scrubbed in.
This should lift the majority of the tea stains. You can also do a soak after this, with more bicarb and boiling hot water. Keep it submerged until the water is cold again.
Also, make sure you rinse the strainers thoroughly. Bicarb isn’t a great flavour to find in your next cuppa!
Lemon Juice Method
This method also works with vinegar, but I’d recommend starting with lemon juice instead. It just smells nicer and any lingering lemony notes will go great with your tea anyway. If lemon juice fails you, do a vinegar soak instead.
With lemon, go all in. Don’t just juice the lemon – finely chop or even grate the zest and pith as well. And the seeds!
Put this all in a bowl, add your tea strainers, then cover with boiling water. Depending on how durable your tea strainers are, you could even boil this lemony mix on the stove with the strainers in it.
If your tea strainers are too weak to go through the dishwasher, they won’t be strong enough for the stovetop boiling method.
Lemon juice is acidic but I tend to find it’s weaker than the bicarb method for removing stains. So, leave the soak for as long as possible.
Alcohol Tea Stains Cleaner
Use either an alcohol-based cleaner that’s designed especially for this sort of thing, or just vodka. Don’t waste money on the expensive stuff, just buy the supermarket own-brand one. There’s a reason it’s called “paint stripper”.
Use the same method as above, minus the boiling water. Just submerge your tea strainers in the alcohol overnight, then give them a scrub in the morning.
This is the method I sometimes use on my Whittard of Chelsea Pao Mug Infuser.
There are several websites online recommending that you use bleach as a hail Mary pass when every other method fails. I do NOT recommend that. I wouldn’t put bleach anywhere near my teaware. You are better off just living with the tea stains or buying new tea infusers.
If you feel like you need to take it to the next level just to shift the tea stains, I recommend you just do the three methods above one after the other. That should lift even the toughest stain!