Yes, the tumbler has to be completely filled with water in order to cover the leaves in infuser. Also, I'd recommend putting loose leaves in a tea pouch first. The holes in the mesh are just a tad too big. Small leaf pieces get into the tea. Otherwise, great tumbler. Keeps the tea hot for 5+ hours
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I have it and it's okay for some loose leaf tea like Early grey but if the tea has many small particles (as many from places like Teavana do) it would be best to bag it up.
I also have had mine leak some, so it's not one that I would just toss in to my bag without making sure it won't leak.