Tea Travel Mugs: A Buyer’s Overview of the Options

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.

Travel Tea Mugs

From left to right: The Zojirushi Stainless Steel Tumbler with Infuser; Teas Etc. Tea Travel Mug; Teavana Dragon Double-walled Travel Tumbler.

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.

Teas Etc. Tea Travel Mug

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

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

Another Option: The Tuffy Steeper

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.

Discussion

  • 1

    Terrific post – I have been intrigued by travel tea mugs but not realy sure what to go for… Will definitely investigate the ones you mention…

    Perhaps the next innovation in travel mugs should be a self-propelling homing device to ensure the safe return of those which have been inadvertently left behind somewhere?

  • 2

    I’m surprised the Timolino Travel Mug was not included in this review, as we’ve found it to be the best travel mug with infusor. Sleek design, easy to use, and keeps tea hot for hours…and a good price too – $22 for a 12 oz. size.

    See: http://www.inpursuitoftea.com/Timolino_Travel_Mug_with_Infuser_p/xc021_par.htm&Click=8979

  • 3

    Seconding the Timolino suggestion. I bought one from REI a few years back and was surprised by the quality. The lid never leaked even when shoved upside-down into my backpack. And it keeps tea hot for an incredibly long time. I’ve emptied it the following day and found the dredges of tea inside to still be hot.

  • 4

    I like the tuffy steeper. It looks very interesting.

  • 5

    I’ve wanted to see some different materials used for these travel mugs, like cast iron for instance. Would that be too heavy? I’d also want to buy a sterling silver one because that’s my favorite to drink tea out of. I doubt I’d ever find anything like that, but if I did I’d take care of it for many years. –Teaternity

  • 6

    What a great travel tea mugs. Specially I love big plastic tea mug in my travel. This post is really interesting.

  • 7

    The problem with all of these mugs is that none of them have handles. I know there is a certain subset of tea drinker that has to have handles on their mugs, myself included. There’s a great handled travel mug at http://www.starbucksstore.com/products/shprodde.asp?SKU=254413. While I normally would never endorse Starbucks, I’ll make an exception here. I bought this mug several years ago, and it’s amazing. Never leaks, keeps tea warm for 4-5 hours, and has a handle! Even after two years of tough treatment, the only damage is to the outer color coating.

  • 8

    [...] while) the tea was still warm. (I love using my Contigo for tea, but if you’re looking for a tea specific travel mug check out Eric’s post.) It wasn?t piping hot, but warm enough to comfortably [...]

  • 9

    Check out the travel mugs on tea-mugs.com, a new site I just found. I have the Silver Dragon Top mug and LOVE IT! Yes a bit more expensive than the others you have listed here, but stainless steel and very durable.

  • 10

    Neat post.
    I would like to add my own points:

    * Having the chance to brew it for the desired amount of time easily, and even with more than one brew if the tea leaves allows it. The aladdin is the only one so far I found that boast this feature.
    * Microwaveable. That way you just fill the device with water, put it in the microwave, and you’re ready to go.
    * Unbreakable. So plastic or steel. But steel isn’t microwaveable. So for me plastic is the only option :-|

    Ciao :)

    un-breakability. This would

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