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Gadgets: Tea Infuser Mug by Aladdin

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[Photograph: shopaladdin-pmi.com]

The world of specialty tumblers seems to be growing exponentially, so how do you discern between the junk and the golden nuggets? We've already identified a great coffee option in the form of a portable press tumbler, but this tea infuser version by Aladdin ($18.99 at shopaladdin-pmi.com) offers a more gently caffeinated morning jolt.

Interestingly enough, the tea infuser's steeping cage is made of fine enough mesh to hold thick-ground coffee—probably not too intriguing an option if you take your coffee seriously. But it's meant to be a mug for tea drinkers after all, and in this vein the tumbler is a real winner. Unlike other similar products that feature steeping chambers for either bagged or loose leaf teas, the mesh ball in Aladdin's version flips up and down with the flick of a little lever on the lid's side, allowing for much more precise control of brewing intensity. The mechanism itself seems a little weak at first glance, but in my experience it has held up over repeat usage just fine.

The body is double walled and made of plastic; the inner layer, at the very least, is BPA-free. Though I can see some users pining for a stainless steel body, I rather like that the clear plastic allows you to see through, gauging how intensely your tea has steeped based on its color. And for what it's worth, the tumbler insulates very well, keeping tea warm for at least two hours.

As far as portability goes, the tea infuser mug holds up well: Though the usage pamphlet claims it's not leak-free, I've shaken mine upside down and had no messes come of it. It's also nice that, with the exception of the lid, the mug is also microwaveable, eliminating an extra step in the morning.

A somewhat funny annoyance is in the lid's design: The flip top, which seals surprisingly tightly to hold in heat, doesn't rest against anything when it folds back. As a result, reaching for those last sips often earns you a gentle, but surprising, whack on the nose—a small price for the rewarding final tastes of a good cup of tea.

About the author: Nikki Goldstein is a freelance food and nutrition writer living in New York City. Aside from her Gadgets and Brunch columns here at Serious Eats, you can find her writing in SELF and the New York Post's new iPad edition, The Daily. Even in her 500-square-foot studio, she devotes an entire walk-in-closet to all things gadget-related.

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