And this is how it's done...
This is the pattern we are aiming for. It consists of a total of 18 circles - 9 white, 3 yellow, 3 orange and 3 red (you might have to adjust the overall circle number depending on your mug size):
Crochet 9 white circles:
- start with a magic ring, 3 ch, 11 dc into ring, join with sl 
- 3 ch, 1 dc into same stitch, 2 dc into each of the following stitches 
- join the second row using Sarah London's seamless join method.
The orange and red cirles are basically made in the same way. BUT while working the second row of those you will join all the circles.
The second row of each circle consists of 24 stitches, that means joining happens at dc 6, 12 and 18. To do so, dc 6, 12 and 18 have to be hooked as follows:
Now cut 4x2 50cm threads from the white yarn, join them as shown in the following picture and braid them.
Happy hookin' :)