Thursday, December 25, 2008

PG Tips Christmas Message

With no mention of the product.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review: The Guayaki Bottled Line

Mixed Case of 12 ($39.99,

Along with their line of Yerba Mate and Yerba Mate related implements, the people at Guayaki put out a line of bottled drinks designed for cold consumption. Looking conspicuously like Snapple bottles (aside from the euphoric rain forest creatures on the label) the lineup features fierce minimalist names such as Pure Endurance and Pure Heart. Toting heavy organic/fair trade/kosher/sustainable credentials each drink (save for the Unsweetened Yerba Mate and Traditional Mate) contains yerba mate blended with flavors like mint and citrus. Though I haven’t yet seen any of these drinks available in local stores, I was fortunate enough to try all but the Pure Mind Blend (a full review of which can be found here).

Generally speaking these drinks are very good. Refreshing but not overpowering, they combine light flavoring with a slow and steady yerba mate kick. Lacking the high sugar content (and corn syrup content) of most similarly shaped drinks, they are a pleasant alternative to what is typically found in the cold drink aisle. One notable standout is the Empower Mint which climaxes in a genuine mint finish without the sticky sweetness of other mint beverage competitors.

Will bottled yerba mate begin to change the face of the convenience store drink section? We will just have to wait and see.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: Guayaki Yerba Mate Pure Mind Pomegranate Clarity Blend

Case of 12 ($39.99,

Guest Reviewed by L.S. Sacks

With a deadline looming on some schoolwork I decided to give the Clarity Blend from Guayaki a try. Having never experienced any sort of yerba mate related product before, I can say that this first endeavor was delicious, but with a bit more of a caffeine punch than I expected. The gentle flavor may not betray all the energy that the Clarity Blend carries with its earthy, fresh brewed quality.

The natural type flavor combines subtle pomegranate with an aftertaste of bitter mint leaves. The balance of sweetness and tartness is nice, without anything overwhelming on either side. What I particularly liked about this drink is that it doesn’t leave you feeling thirstier like other, sweeter bottled beverages. It is a happy divergence for those seeking more flavor than water, but without all the sugar of the soft drink market.

My only side note is that if you are normally sensitive to other energy drinks this may not be a suitable alternative! I personally can drink tea but the caffeine in coffee is just too much. While I really enjoyed the flavor of the Clarity Blend I will most likely not be drinking it again, as it was a little too much for my system to handle.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Polish Take on the Mate

According to YouTube user Etheliel, "it's Polish but he's joking as a stupid".

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Please Explain: Tea

This past Friday's Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC featured a section about tea (part of their Please Explain series).

Listen to it here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Review: Archer Farms Dragon Well Green

15 tea bags (Target, sale price $2.98)

As I've said before in this blog, my experience with most Archer Farms products have been good ones. Another case in point is their Dragon Well Green Tea. Much like a mediocre first date, it neither impresses nor disappointments allowing for an acceptable, civilized time that may or may not be related to friends.

Sold in state-of-the-art, pyramid style tea bags both the smell and flavor of this tea tends towards the light side. Going down smooth and without much bitterness, the tea is mellow and slightly smokey. Not as full bodied or deep as a higher quality Dragon Well, the experience is good but not great. While it is certainly more complex than the average generic bagged green tea, it fails to really enforce some of the claims found on the packaging. As far as being "delicately tinged with sweetness" as the box suggests, I could distinguish no such subtlety. This tea is fairly straightforward from start to finish, tending to lack in any delicate tinges advertised or otherwise.

For convenience and price the Archer Farms Dragon Well tea is not a bad deal. It may not suit a true connoisseur but for those looking to go beyond generic bagged green tea it makes an excellent first choice.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Whittard of Chelsea Holiday Sale

I've been getting all kinds of wild deals on tea via e-mail. Check out this one from Whittard of Chelsea. They have a different sale every day of December.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: Ricola Natural Herb Blend

200g instant (, $7.95)

From the makers of the Swiss cough drops comes an instant dissolve herbal tea of sorts. Boasting a combination of a dozen some odd herbs (each handsomely illustrated on the package), preparation is as simple as combining the crystallized pellets and hot water. The end result is a drink akin to, for lack of any better comparison, a liquid candy cane.

Both smelling and tasting strongly of peppermint, none of the other herbs involved can really be distinguished. While I trust that Ricola has not forgotten to say, add the hysop or thyme, if your intentions were tasting them you should take your business elsewhere. For all intents and purposes, this is a peppermint flavored drink.

Along with this simplicity is a fair amount of sugar. With a content of 9.6 grams per serving of the stuff, this drink is very, very sweet. Though the instant dissolve formula is convenient, it prevents the removal of any of those grams, confining your options to either take the sugar or leave the drink entirely. That being said, if you don't mind sugar and peppermint, the taste is not all that bad.

I will admit that while going through a mild cold recently I found myself drinking this stuff on a regular basis. It does not contain the kind of potent strength to dissuade a truly treacherous sickness but the candy-like feel is soothing, particularly on a cold day. Depending on how sugar and peppermint factor into your personal belief system, Ricola Natural Herb Blend can either be a handy cold season friend or a menacing toothache disguised as an instant dissolve formula.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Russian Tea HOWTO

Zima is upon us. Consult this Russian Tea HOWTO for appropriate instructions.

Afterward check out this Russian rap song which appears to be about winter, or is the blond girl the one who is truly cold?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Japanese Tea Commercial

We don't often think about what happens in the field.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Review: Archer Farms Organic Blueberry White

39g loose (Target, $6.99)

Through Archer Farms (a Target exclusive food brand) Target now carries a small selection of loose leaf teas. Regardless of the Starbucks-ification / White Noise-ification of America that Target encourages, for the most part Archer Farms products tend to be pretty good (and many are organic if that's what gets your goat). Coinciding with this trend, their Blueberry White tea is just that: pretty good.

Billed by the people at Archer Farms as “a refreshing combination of sweet, juicy blueberries and wholesome white tea” the initial of the tin lives up to the description. Any fan of blueberries could happily burn a few minutes just smelling this stuff.

The purplish liquor that follows keeps much of the enticement. Unfortunately when it comes down to the flavor this excitement is somewhat diminished. Extremely light, with a slight trace of hibiscus, the flavor is pleasant though it lacks much force or complexity. Granted white tea is supposed to be delicate but this tea lacks a certain fullness you would expect after such a seductive introduction. What happened to that cascade of juicy blueberries? Were they deemed too much for the masses?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Town of Tea

Unrelated to the beverage of the same name, the town of Tea, South Dakota is arguably just as interesting.

Read about their history here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Aya Matsuura Iced Tea Commercial

The star behind those insane Pretz commercials also pitches iced tea. Enticing, though equally confusing.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Review: PG Tips

40 Tea Bags (, $3.25)

Crisp, not too pungent, widely available, and with a dash of nutty advertising PG Tips are easily one of the top mass produced teas on the market. Simple yes, but pleasing to anyone just looking for a decent cup.

Why their advertising has centered around monkeys for decades I do not know. Check out a whole smattering of their old ads here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Korean Tea Ceremony

Watching this is strangely relaxing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

How to Drink Yerba Mate

What this video lacks in production value it makes up for in information.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Review: Whittard of Chelsea English Rose

125g loose (, $8.99)

For those seeking strength as well as whimsy, English Rose from Whittard of Chelsea is a good place to begin. Strong enough for a man, yet floral enough for a sissy man this is a complex combination of black tea and fruit.

Known by fans as 'dream flavored', English Rose combines Keemum and Assam black tea with touches of mango, papaya, and rose petal. The resulting product is an enticing mixture that pleases the senses from the get go. Lacking the overbearing perfume like quality that tends to plague more haphazard blends, all the ingredients in this medley make themselves accounted for in their own way.

The initial smell can certainly be described as dream like, assuming of course that your dreams tend to be gentle frolics through private gardens of spring time delight and earthly pleasure. From this frolic though comes a liquid that is somewhat more serious. Its deep, malty appearance is more like the result from a standard English Breakfast or no nonsense Earl Grey. We are playing with Keemum and Assam after all, not just flowers and love.

The resulting flavor is a neat combination of all the forces at work. The black teas work to make a strong undercurrent for the dotting of mango and rose. Overall this is a fine cup and easily one of the best black tea blends I have ever tried.