Types of Travel Mugs
Double-walled stainless-steel travel mugs have many advantages. For starters, they're by far the best at keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Professional tests find that some stainless-steel travel mugs can keep coffee or tea at a drinkable temperature as long as eight hours after brewing. Most tests don't measure a mug's performance with cold drinks, but any mug that can keep your cup of Joe hot during a long commute should also have the insulating power to keep your orange juice frosty. Stainless-steel mugs are also the most durable type, typically surviving falls from counter height and even from the roof of a moving car. However, stainless steel travel mugs have a couple of drawbacks: They are not microwave safe, and they tend to be pricey.
If you want a mug that's microwave safe, your main options are plastic or ceramic, and each has pluses and minuses of its own. Plastic travel mugs are usually significantly less expensive than stainless steel – so if you accidentally leave your mug behind on the subway, you're only out $10 or so. Plastic mugs are also lighter in weight than many stainless-steel mugs, usually weighing no more than 8 ounces for a mug with a 16-ounce capacity. Ceramic mugs are heavier, but for true coffee snobs, they're the only acceptable material for drinking coffee from; plastic and even stainless steel can subtly alter the flavor. However, professional tests show that plastic mugs can keep drinks hot or cold for an hour or two at most, and ceramic mugs even less than that -- about 30 minutes. Plastic and ceramic mugs also break more easily than stainless-steel mugs. Finally, ceramic travel mugs are not as leak-resistant as other travel mugs.
What about travel mugs for tea?
Tea travel mugs are a niche
product for hard-core tea drinkers. These are typically made of either stainless
steel or ceramic, though there are a couple of glass and plastic options. What
sets these mugs apart are the extra features they add specifically for brewing
tea in the cup. Some have a removable or retractable metal basket to hold
loose-leaf tea while it steeps; with others, you put the tea leaves directly
into the mug and a strainer in the lid filters them out as you drink. Some
models also include a hook or notch to attach the string of a tea bag, keeping
the label securely out of your brewing tea.
Finding The Best Travel Mugs
Editors of YourBestDigs.com, Updated Mar. 13, 2017
Seamus Bellamy, Oct. 6, 2016
Seth Porges, Sep. 1, 2015
Tests of travel mugs appear
in cooking magazines like Cook's Illustrated, home-oriented websites like YourBestDigs.com,
and general consumer review sites like TheSweethome.com. Nearly all these
sources put travel mugs through the same basic tests: they leave hot liquids in
them for several hours to see how well they hold heat, drop them to test their
durability, and shake them in various ways to check for leaks and spills.
After consulting these and
other professional tests to find the top performers, we turned to user reviews
at sites like Amazon.com and BedBathandBeyond.com to see how these travel mugs
stand up to real-world use. Based on all these sources, we've identified our
picks for the best stainless-steel, microwave-safe, and tea travel mugs for
your daily commute.