I have a tendency to lose travel mugs. This year I’ve lost two. The first one I left at a post office ? 15 minutes later I returned to see if it was there or if someone had handed it over to the staff, but no. Someone just took it. How did I lose the second one? Left it on the train. As simple as that.
But it’s awfully handy having a travel mug, so lately I’ve been checking out some of the options available out there. Turns out there is quite a bit of choice for those of us who like to take their tea on the road. In this post I’ve compiled a list of some of the factors to consider and a run-down of some of the best choices available to tea drinkers.
7 Factors to Consider when Buying a Tea Travel Mug
There are a number of factors that come into play when trying to decide between travel mugs.
What kind of material is the cup made of?
Stainless steel, glass and plastic are the most common choices, though Teavana also offer a selection of tumblers made of bone china. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like the idea of a plastic travel mug. Bone china also kind of freaks me out, because I have a tendency to be quite clumsy. Of stainless steel and glass, I find myself leaning towards glass ? the last two mugs I had were stainless steel and I found that one of them had a nasty tendency to make the tea taste metallic. Granted, my wife thinks I’m silly to go for glass because I’m so clumsy…
Is it spill-proof?
Of all the factors to consider, this one is the hardest to judge without personally trying the cup. It’s also one of the most important, in my opinion. Ideally, I should be able to stick the cup in my bag without worrying about it spilling tea over the other stuff in the bag. As I more or less expected, most of the cups I read about said they were spill-proof, but reading some of the comments and customer reviews was helpful in picking out which cups are a little more susceptible to spilling.
How long does it keep tea warm for?
Some promise to keep your tea warm for up to eight hours, while others promise less than four. Again, the customer reviews were very helpful in sorting the wheat from the chaff. One rather novel thermos comes with a power cable that plugs into your car cigarette lighter, so you can keep your tea warm for even longer.
How large is it?
The travel mugs I came across ranged from 8 oz capacity to 16 oz capacity. This is a fairly minor factor to me.
How easy is it to wash?
A couple of the cups I saw said they have to be washed by hand. One tumbler, Teavana’s Harmony Glass Tea Tumbler, said it was safe for the top shelf of a dishwasher. I don’t use a dishwasher, so this is pretty much a non-issue for me. However, I do want a cup that can be washed by hand easily, without any hard-to-reach bits.
What does it look like?
Depending on your taste, this might be an important factor or completely irrelevant. Personally, I’m in the latter category, but if you like pretty cups, check out Teavana’s range. Zojirushi also have one very slick-looking mug, which incidentally topped the list in terms of price.
And finally… what does it cost?
The cheapest cup I saw was the VR3 Stainless Steel Heated Insulated Travel Mug, which was $11.37. The most expensive one, as mentioned, was Zojirushi’s beautiful stainless steel mug, which goes for $52. On average, most mugs seem to be priced around the $20 – $25 mark.
My Top 2 Choices
After considering all the factors listed above, I’ve come up with three mugs that I feel ? based purely on research ? have the edge over the competition.
Tea Travel Mug by Teas Etc.
This double-walled travel mug with a stainless steel infuser holds 12.85 ounces of tea and is very reasonable priced at $19.95 $15.95 (this is a special offer if you click the link above). It has some very enthusiastic reviews ? though a few did offer some helpful points of criticism ? and comes from a tea company I trust. The combination of price, material and customer feedback puts this one at the top of my list.
Thermos Stainless Steel Tea Tumbler with Infuser
Again, people who own this seem very happy with it, based on the reviews on Amazon. At $22.49, it’s middle-of-the-road in terms of price, but for me the big drawcard is just how happy most people are with it. And it’s made by Thermos ? one company that really ought to know about making good travel mugs.
13 Other Travel Mugs to Consider
- Glass Tea Cup Thermos by Summit Tea Company – Glass, with a stainless steel infuser; holds 12 ounces and ticks in at $19.95.
- Glass and Stainless Steel Tea Brewing Tumbler by Summit Tea Company – This is basically the larger version of the previous one by Summit. It holds 16 ounces and costs $24.99.
- Highwave Original Joemo Tea Brew Insulated Mug – A 14 ounce, stainless steel mug that costs $17.
- VR3 Stainless Steel Heated Insulated Travel Mug Cup – This plugs into a cigarette lighter, but the fact that it’s so cheap is a bit of a concern. It also doesn’t include an infuser. Holds 14 ounces and costs $11.37.
- Zojirushi Stainless Mug with Tea Strainer – The designer’s choice. Stainless steel and beautiful, holding 11.75 ounces and costing a whopping $52.
- Trudeau Tea-riffic 16-Ounce Travel Tea Tumbler – A plastic tumbler holding 16 ounces and costing $12.95.
- Tea Thermos with Strainer by Teavana – This one looks fairly similar to the Thermos tumbler I’ve listed above as one my top choices (except that it’s brown). Why isn’t this one listed up there then? At $27.95, it looks a bit over-priced.
- Harmony Glass Tea Tumbler with Infuser by Teavana – Again, this is very similar to Teas Etc.’s Tea Travel Mug. It’s glass, holds 11 ounces and costs $19.95. So in pretty much every respect it’s the same, except that it holds a bit less than the Teas Etc. model and it’s more expensive (if you take advantage of the 20% discount on the Teas Etc. Tea Travel Mug).
- Travel Press by Art of Tea – Art of Tea offer this plastic, 16 ounce cup that uses a press instead of a regular infuser. It’s an interesting approach, though the use of plastic turns me off. This costs $15.
Another Option: The Tuffy Steeper
The Tuffy Steeper doesn’t fall into the travel mug category, but it’s an interesting alternative. Instead of lugging around a cup, why don’t you just carry this collapsible silicone tea infuser, specially designed to fit most cups? The Tuffy Steeper is $8.95 from The Tea Spot. I don’t think it’s quite what I’m after, but I see it as a useful option for those who are travelling, or those who have a travel mug that doesn’t have its own infuser.