Best purchase – January 2011

I debated making this a monthly feature, but honestly I don’t buy things that often for my kitchen. We’ll see if the short month of February brings any more gems my way…

This little beauty has been by my side nonstop in 2011 — even when not outside of the house. It’s Thermos’ Stainless Steel Tumbler with Tea Infuser, available on Amazon now for $18.99.

If you know me, you know I love the taste of coffee but make sure not to drink it daily as I don’t want a caffeine habit. I originally found this tumbler because it comes in a smaller 12 oz size, a petite cousin to the 16 oz tumblers that rampantly populate America. I suppose we are the land of the 2 liter, the BigGulp, and the Super Size. 🙂 With the smaller size I can fill it up and occasionally drink my coffee without overdosing on the buzz-inducing stuff, while the built-in tea strainer allows me to easily enjoy my looseleaf green.

I actually love this travel mug so much I brought it with me on my recent jaunt up to NYC, and it allowed me to bring hot water, tea, and coffee around as I ran all over that lovely island called Manhattan. It wasn’t just a cost-savings measure (although as a grad student, that always is an angle), but really more because the tumbler was leakproof, and I knew this way I’d always have something warm to drink no matter where the subway led me.

I use this at home, as well. It lets me sip on my tea without the constant trips to the microwave to reheat my mug. I’m an absent-minded professor in training, and I will often get caught up reading/in an idea, just to find my once piping hot cuppa has turned into a sad little room-temperature mug.

I looked at Thermos Nissan brand as my parents owned a fantastic large Nissan thermos when I was growing up. I remember how impressed I was at it’s temperature retention abilities when we went on trips — and this tumbler provides the same great experience. 🙂

Pros

  • Perfect size for me (12 oz)
  • Deeply recessed sipping lid, makes for minimal spillage when open, even if you’re being jostled around
  • Totally tight seal — after filling it up I perform a quick upside-down test to make sure I’ve closed everything properly. Then I feel perfectly confident sticking it in my schoolbag with my laptop and important papers
  • Easy to clean — So many of the travel mugs on the market have tricky components or trap gunk in odd crevices — not this guy. Great for those of us who will use it for more than one type of beverage
  • Keeps things really hot — so hot that I often have to let things “air out” after I put it in there. If you have something in there at boiling, it will stay pretty close to that temperature when closed up. Check out the reviews for one (very nerdy) guy who measured the temperature at regular intervals post-filling. Now that’s some dedication!
  • Sleek and easy style
  • Very rugged — ever the klutz, I’ve dropped this on concrete several times. No dings in the stainless, some scratches on the plastic. No worries, things are meant to be used. What matters is it has never broken!
  • Pretty easy to open — even with my weak hands, I can still screw/unscrew the lids. Always a pro — I’ve had mugs that are like little mines waiting to explode burning liquid all over my face. This one is easy to deal with

Cons

  • No handle, if you’re used to that. But I actually like it better — slips in my handbag or school bag without taking much space, can be used ambidextrously
  • Three of four pieces in use at all time, and the sipping component is not usable when you are using the tea infuser. This is the part that worried me the most when I bought it, but I’ve found it isn’t a problem at all. What I usually will do in the morning is set the infuser in a few minutes before leaving (when dashing around the house), then switch it out for the sipping component right before leaving. My tea doesn’t oversteep (3-5 minutes, people!) and I haven’t lost any component yet! And to avoid potentially losing the lid, I just stick it in my bag or pocket while I drink.
  • The wire mesh of the tea strainer is not fine enough for chopped up tea (such as my beloved looseleaf Boh from Malaysia), so it’s better for whole-leaf teas, etc.

Final recommendation — I recommend it wholeheartedly! A 😀

I need to thank my dear friend Margot for this, actually. I had been complaining for some time that I didn’t have a travel mug (the two I owned didn’t want to leave San Diego and so jumped ship somewhere over there), and she graciously picked me up an awesome pinkish purple one from Target, with a gift receipt in case I didn’t like it. Unfortunately, the reviews online were unanimous that it was leak-proof but not heat-retaining, so I returned it and that’s what led me to find this one. So thank you, Margot!

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