I’m celebrating the advent of winter with a snuffly nose this year, so in light of my decreased capacity for sensing aromas, I’ve decided to forego the tea review and write instead about Teas Etc’s new tea travel mug.
Last year, when I put together my article about tea travel mugs, Teas Etc’s travel mug came out as one of my top two picks. With the release of their new BPA-free Tea Traveler, Teas Etc generously sent me two Travelers for review — one for me, one for Bec.
How it works
The Tea Traveler is composed of three parts: the mug, a stainless steel screw-on strainer and a lid.
To make tea, you place the tea leaves in the bottom of the mug, screw on the strainer, pour in the water and finally screw on the lid. It’s a simple process, but one word of warning: don’t pour the water in before you screw on the strainer, because you’ll find it impossible to screw the strainer on after you’ve added water — the mug expands a bit due to the heat. I learned that the hard way.
Of course, this means that the leaves sit in the water the whole time*, which means you could oversteep the tea. To get around this, decrease the amount of tea leaves you use, or use cooler water. I’ve found that covering the base of the mug with tea leaves generally yields a very good cup of tea, with the last bits of the tea being stronger but still palatable.
If you really want to be able to control how you long you steep the tea, I’d suggest Copco’s thermal mug, which has a twist-to-stop steeping device. But the problem with Copco’s thermal mug is that you can’t use it for any teas that have larger leaves — you’re limited to small-leaf black and green teas.
With Teas Etc’s travel mug, that’s not an issue. I love the fact that you can use it to make oolong tea, green tea, or any other kind of tea, because the leaves have plenty of room to unfurl. It’s a beautiful thing to watch oolong tea leaves uncoil slowly in the water, eventually revealing their full size.
For a demonstration of how the Tea Traveler Mug works, check out this video on Teas Etc.
* Unless you pour the tea into something else after infusing it. You could use the Tea Traveler as a makeshift teapot/infuser instead.
Easy to clean
One benefit of this design is that it’s really easy to clean. You just pull the mug apart, wash each individual part with water (don’t use soap on it), and you’re done.
Warm to touch (not too cool, not too hot)
It also stays warm to touch, without being too hot — even straight after adding boiling water. I’ve actually used the Tea Traveler around the house when I’m taking care of Benny (my one-year son), simply because I know he can touch it without burning himself. Granted, I still don’t really let him touch it in case he unscrews it — but at least it’s safer than a regular cup.
At the same time, it still insulates the heat well enough to keep the tea warm for at least an hour.
A better tea drinking experience
The number one thing I like about the Tea Traveler Mug is that it makes for a much nicer tea drinking experience than any other travel mug I’ve used.
You can actually smell the tea when you unscrew the lid, so it allows you to enjoy the tea’s aroma. I also appreciate that it’s warm to touch — the act of holding a warm mug is for me a key part of the sensory experience of having a cup of tea.
But most importantly, it has remarkably little effect on the tea’s flavour, which is a very good thing indeed. I find that most plastic mugs have a way of making tea taste washed out, while stainless steel mugs also change the flavour somewhat. With the Tea Traveler Mug, you’re getting a pretty accurate idea of what the tea should taste like.
Who should get this?
If you want control over how long you steep your tea leaves, don’t get the Tea Traveler Mug — try the Copco thermal mug instead.
On the other hand, if you want to be able to make any kind of tea – not just small-leaf green teas and black teas – the Tea Traveler Mug is the best mug I’ve used. It’s easy to clean, keeps the tea hot but won’t burn your fingers, doesn’t leak and most importantly, it makes for a great tea drinking experience. And at $19.95, the Tea Traveler Mug is very well priced.
The Tea Traveler Mug is available from Teas Etc.