Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tea Review 16 - Stash Mango Passionfruit

Mango Passionfruit Herbal Tea
Stash Tea

I probably wouldn't know a passionfruit if one fell on my head. I've had a little more experience with mango, but not much.

The odd thing about Stash's Mango Passionfruit is that "natural mango and natural passionfruit flavors" are at the bottom of the ingredients list. I found that odd, anyway. Maybe you won't.

Comprising the rest of the mix are pretty much the usual suspects - orange peel, safflower, lemongrass, citric acid and licorice powder. Oh, and did I mention that it contains rosehips and hibiscus? But you knew that. After all, it's the law. I don’t know exactly what either of these substances are, but I'd guess that somewhere in this great big world they make a pretty good living growing rosehips and hibiscus for the herbal tea crowd.

Anyway, this one's not bad. I steeped it for the full five minutes and proceeded to taste. A bit on the bland and undistinguished side, but maybe that's what passionfruit tastes like. I have no idea.

This is another variety that would probably work best blended into an iced tea with something that has a little more flavor. Recommended, with that caveat.

Contents: 20 bag per box
I paid: $2.99

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Up In Smoke

An Indian paper reported today that more than two and a half tons of tea was incinerated in southern India last week. Now, before you get yourself up in arms about the destruction of perfectly good tea, the truth is, according to the article, that the tea was not so good after all. It was destroyed because it was substandard and was blamed for reducing the overall quality of tea offered at auction.

A tea expert admitted that torching a few tons of crap tea wasn't going to impact the market much, but said the object was to send a message to growers and sellers that the cheap stuff is a blight on India's reputation.

For the full story, go here.

More Tea Bargains

Shrewd tea shoppers may want to take a look at Culinary Teas' Clearance page.

Here, for your bargain tea shopping convenience, are the closeout and clearance pages I listed previously.

For bargains on tea and related accessories, be sure to keep an eye on Stash Tea's Discounts and Closeouts page here. Some of the sections are a little sparse at times, but it ebbs and flows.

You might also navigate in the direciton of The Liquid Leaf's Clearance page here.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Better Instant Tea?

Not a development that's going to affect my life much, but if you're into instant tea you might be interested to know that Indian scientists have devised a way to improve it.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, in West Bengal, have come up with a process that uses green tea to make instant, a change from the current process, which uses black tea. This new method is said to improve aroma and flavor and cut processing time considerably. Of course, it will still be instant tea, no matter what you do to it, but there's obviously a market for that sort of thing.

For more details, look here.

Tea Review 15 - Adagio White Monkey

White Monkey
Adagio Teas

White Monkey is, of course, a green tea. Nothing confusing about that, now is there? It's grown in the Taimu Mountains in the Fujian Province of China and is processed exclusively by hand. The leaves are small to medium-sized with a coating of fine white down that presumably gives this one it's name.

Now, I might actually go so far as to say that a cup of White Monkey makes me want to jump around, twittering and screeching like...well, like a big white monkey, but I would never stoop to such undignified shenanigans. However, this is a very nice tea all around, from the time you open the little tin and catch a whiff of that pleasing aroma, to watching the leaves unfold in the hot water - the agony of the leaves - to the pale golden color and the light, but very pleasing, green tea taste.

Like most of Adagio's teas, White Monkey is available in four different sizes, from a ten-cup sample tin up to a half-pounder that goes for $19. A relatively rarefied pleasure, compared to some teas, but if you've got the hots for the good stuff, it's worth it.

Contents: Sample tin
I paid: na

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Tea Review 14 - Kikkoman Green Tea Soymilk

Kikkoman Pearl Green Tea Soymilk

Okay, now I've seen everything. I was in the health food section of our local food emporium the other day, looking for soymilk, when what should I run across? That's right - green tea soymilk. Who would have guessed?

Most of us probably know Kikkoman by their most famous product - soy sauce. But they also make several types of soymilk, including - obviously - a green tea variety.

I have to admit that I wasn't really bowled over by this idea. It smacked of bandwagon-jumping of the loopiest sort and frankly, I really didn't see the point. Then I tried it.

The first and most important quality of a good soymilk is that it be thick and creamy. I've tasted some that were more like colored water than anything and they're definitely something to steer clear of. I recently tried another Kikkoman variety, besides green tea, and found both to be very creamy and thick.

The other thing that surprised me was how much tea was actually in this product. I was expecting the green tea to be a token component, but what I got instead was a dark green beverage thick with bits of powdered green tea. Okay, so the color is nothing to write home about, but the taste actually is.

This is pretty much a standard base of soymilk ingredients. The "active" ingredient is simply described as "organic green tea powder," which is good enough for me. As a matter of fact, the whole kit and caboodle are organic and the price isn't half bad either.

I bought this one mainly for the novelty value, but the funny thing is, I would probably buy it again. Recommended.

Contents: 32 ounce box
I paid: $1.79

Tea On Delta

According to Delta's inflight magazine, Lipton tea is complimentary on all domestic flights. International travelers are upgraded to Tazo. At least, I think that's considered an upgrade. I would say so. No word on whether you get a better grade of peanuts or pretzels if you're going abroad.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Four New Teas From Teaology

Teaology, based in Aliso Viejo, California, announced Tuesday that they are introducing four new flavored teas. They will be available in bags, twenty to a box. Some serious flavor combining going on here, friends.

Jumpstart - with lemon myrtle kiwi green tea
Whip It - with grapefruit ginger yerba mate
Stop the Clock - with pomegranate peach blueberry leaf green tea
Urban Defense - with goldenseal zinc echinacea peppermint

Top Tea Sellers

Courtesty of Packaged Facts, the publishing division of, here are the top purveyors of loose and bagged tea in the United States:

Lipton Tea
Celestial Seasonings
Private Label Tea
Twinings Tea
Red Rose/Salada
Luzianne Tea
Tetley Tea
Stash Tea
Good Earth Tea
Tazo Tea
Traditional Medicinals

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tea Magazines

Not getting enough tea stuff from the Tea Guy? Try these:

Tea Experience Digest

Fresh Cup

Tea, A Magazine

Tea Review 13 - Adagio Mambo

Adagio Teas

My dancing style has been described as something along the lines of "drunken fat man with wooden leg and a bucket stuck on his head falling down the stairs." And yet I've been doing the Mambo like a sonofabitch lately. The Mambo, in this case, is not a dance - fortunately - but rather a black tea that makes me want to get up and do a jig.

To paraphrase the old saw about art, "I don't know about Mambo, but I know what I like." Which is kind of an awkward way of saying that since I'm not a tea expert, I may lack the impressively hoity-toity vocabulary to express what is wonderful about this blend. But I like it.

Adagio describes Mambo as having "smoky highlights and flavorfully rich body." A big amen to the latter and, in the case of the former, there's just a hint of smoke, at least to my taste buds. That's a huge plus in my book since the Lapsang Souchongs and other smoky teas are among the few types I most definitely don't like. Lapsang Souchong, to me, tastes kind of like a liquid version of Lebanon bologna, which is a reference that may leave you saying "huh?," unless you hail from the same region of central Pennsylvania that I came from.

Anyway, Mambo is a mix of Yunnan and Wuyi Chinese black and is well worth your while. It's offered in four sizes, ranging from a nifty little sample size tin that makes about ten cups and goes for two bucks all the way up to the full one-pounder, for nineteen dollars.

Contents: sample tin
I paid: na

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Tea Review 12 - Fuze White Tea

Fuze Orange Blossom White Tea
Fuze Beverage, LLC

Rather than take the risk of offending millions of Southerners, not to mention a host of tea drinkers abroad, I'll refrain from stating that sweetened tea is an abomination. But that doesn't mean I won't be thinking it.

The first thing you notice about Fuze teas - they also make a green variety - is the nifty keeno bottle and the not so shabby packaging. The second thing you notice is that they're really going after the "tea as health tonic" demographic. The majority of the packaging is devoted to touting the praises of the many polyphenols and vitamins contained therein. By golly, one eighteen ounce bottle of this stuff contains as many antioxidants as three whole servings of vegetables! Whee!

But I think I'd rather go with the vegetables - unless there are lima beans involved. Because the third thing I noticed about Fuze white is that the neato packaging was a lot more appealing than what was inside. Though, if you're a fan of sweet tea, your mileage is likely to vary.

In addition to filtered water, Fuze white's main ingredients are crystalline fructose, honey, natural orange ginger flavor with other natural flavors, white tea solids and white tea extract.

Which all adds up to a rather bland flavor that's kind of like weak lemonade made with oranges instead of lemons. Oh, and a slightly bitter aftertaste.

As for the white tea component, I going to assume it's in there, since it says so on the label. I didn't taste it, but maybe that's just me.

Provisionally recommended, to fans of pre-sweetened ready to drink beverages. A relatively good value, I might add, if you're into this sort of thing.

Contents: 18 ounce bottle
I paid: $1.39

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Record Price For Kundaly White

Earlier this week, several Indian papers reported that a Kundaly white tea from the Kannan Devan Hills Plantation sold for Rs 1601 per kg. The auction was held in Kochi and the sale represents a record-setting price for this region.

For you American readers, unused to dealing with either rupees or kilograms, this translates to $16.70 per pound or just a bit over $1 per ounce. Which doesn't really sound all that impressive to me, so it may just be that my conversion is off. Hmmm.

Tea Readings

Some interesting reading, tea fans:

A History of the World in Six Glasses, by Tom Standage - One of the "six glasses" discussed in Standage's latest book is tea.

History of Iced Tea & Sweet Tea, by Linda Stradley - I'm certainly no fan of the latter, but it's an interesting article, all the same. Check it out here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Tetley For The Sitar Man

In an interview in today's Financial Times, we find that sitar player Ravi Shankar prefers plain old everyday Tetley Tea, in bags. Read the full interview here.

Tea Review 11 - Stash Lemon Ginger

Stash Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea
The Stash Tea Company

I don't know how it came about, but over the years I've developed a marked fondness for raw ginger. I've taken to keeping a sliver in my mouth and nibbling off a tiny piece now and then and chewing it. If freshens the breath and, if reports are to be believed, it's pretty good for you. Whether or not a quarter of a pound a week or so is good I don't know, but I guess time will tell.

I also like lemons. I'm one of those people who will sometimes take their lemon out of the tea or water glass in a restaurant and dig in. So it stands to reason that Stash's lemon ginger infusion would be pretty high on my list.

I wish I could say it was, but the fact is that I haven't really run across many ginger infusions or teas or whatever that are worth much. In fact, I've only run across one that's worth mentioning and that's Ginger Aid, by Traditional Medicinals, but more about that one at a later date.

As much as I love ginger, I have to admit that it's not good for much as a tea, at least not as far as the taste goes. It almost has to be combined with another ingredient and few manufacturers have demonstrated thus far that they have much of a knack for this.

Stash makes a good stab at it and this one isn't all that bad, but the lemon needs to be kicked up a notch or two - or three or four.

The ingredients list, by the way, is ginger root, lemongrass, the ever-present hibiscus, safflower, citric acid and natural lemon and ginger flavors.

Not particularly recommended as a standalone or a hot tea, but not so bad when mixed in an iced tea with something that packs a little more punch.

Contents: 20 bags per box.
I paid: na

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Technology of Tea

For most of us, tea technology has not advanced much since 1904, when Tom Sullivan came up with the tea bag. A dubious accomplishment to be sure - and apparently an accidental one on his part - but that's not really the point of this particular piece.

In addition to offering a great line of gourmet tea, Adagio Teas are also taking steps to bring tea technology into the 21st century. Take their gourmet tea bag, for example. Kind of a compromise between a "regular" tea bag and loose tea, it permits the leaves to expand more than in the standard issue tea bag, thereby allowing the use of a bigger leaf than you normally find in bagged tea.

Other innovations include the ingenuiTEA, a teapot that simplifies the process of brewing gourmet tea. Then there's the utiliTEA, an electric kettle with a variable temperature control to facilitate brewing at different temperatures. Last, but not least, is the triniTEA, a tea maker that not only boils the water, infuses the leaves and filters the tea into a carafe, but also keeps it warm. And no, it doesn't do windows.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tea Review 10 - Lipton Green Tea to Go

Green Tea to Go
Lipton Tea

Some ideas are pretty lousy in theory, but turn out to be okay in practice. Other ideas are just lousy all around.

I've never worked for a giant food conglomerate, so I can't say for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that the new products division is constantly under the gun to come up with nifty new gimmicks that will sell by the boatload. Which may go a long way toward explaining a product like Lipton's Green Tea to Go - or maybe not.

The gimmick here is a single serving foil pack of tea mix that you drop in a 16.9 ounce bottle of water, shake and drink. What could be more convenient? And, of course, it's green tea, so you know it'll make you live to about two hundred years old, cure your leprosy and - for the guys - enlarge your you know what until you have to wheel it around in a cart.

Actually, the primary health claim Lipton makes for the product is that it contains eighty milligrams of "protective flavonoid antioxidants," which help guard your body against free radicals - molecules that can damage your precious little cells. Well, gee whiz, I'd better get me some of them and, by the way, that's more flavonoids than broccoli or cranberry juice and twice as much as orange juice, so flavonoid fans rejoice.

The ingredients are instant green tea, maltodextrin (yum), citric acid, sucralose (double yum), natural flavors and - what tea would be complete without it - silicon dioxide.

To say that I wasn't expecting much from this health-giving elixir, would be putting it mildly, but I grabbed a bottle of water and plunged boldly ahead.

The verdict? Well, my mother always told me that if I couldn't say anything nice, I shouldn't say anything at all. But since I never listened to my mother too well, I'll say that if you're looking for a cough medicine/Kool Aid type flavor that's heavy on the artificial sweeteners, you're gonna flip for this one. As for me? Straight down the drain.

Contents: Ten packets per box.
I paid: NA

Mr. Quixote, I Presume

The Associated Press recently reported about a man who goes simply by the name Winter (not his given name). He is closing in on his goal of getting a caffeinated beverage at every corporate-owned Starbucks on the planet. A lawyer named Bill Tangeman, whose name is oddly similar to my own, is making a documentary film of the quest. It will be called Starbucking.

Now, I know Starbucks is associated primarily with coffee, but they do sell tea and they do own the Tazo brand, so that makes this news relevant enough to include on my tea page.

Anyway, Winter, who must be really bored, is closing in on five thousand Starbucks, with about eight hundred more to go. The 33 year old, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, began his quest in 1997. On his best day thus far, he visited 29 Starbucks. This would be a pretty impressive feat, if it weren't sort of meaningless.

If you feel some perverse need to keep informed regarding this adventure, you'll want to bookmark Winter's Web site.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tea Review 9 - Celestial Peach Apricot Honeybush

Peach Apricot Honeybush
Celestial Seasonings

Celestial Seasonings is the second largest tea seller in the United States, after Lipton. They are probably best known for their line of herbal "teas," but over the years they have branched out into traditional varieties as well. Based in Boulder, Colorado and now a part of the Hain Celestial Group, the company has been doing their thing since 1968.

You can probably find Celestial Seasonings in just about any grocery store in the nation, though you may not necessarily run across Peach Apricot Honeybush. Honeybush, for the unitiated, is derived from a plant of the Cyclopea species. Like rooibos, also know as red bush, it is only grown in one specific region of South Africa, where its leaves, stems and yellow flowers are harvested to make tea.

Peach Apricot Honeybush contains honeybush - of course - peach and apricot flavor, with other natural flavors, dried honey, linden and vanilla bean. It contains no artificial colors or preservatives and is packaged in 100% recycled boxes.

Recommended preparation time is 4-6 minutes in boiling water. I steeped a bag closer to the high end of that range, but with water that wasn't quite boiling. The end result was a clear reddish-brown brew with a very pleasing look.

As for the taste, I have to admit that I didn't pick up much of the peach flavor, or the apricot or vanilla, for that matter. I caught a bit of the honey early on, but there was no hint of sweetness in the after taste. Ultimately, I felt like I was drinking a straight rooibos, with perhaps just the faintest touch of peach or apricot - not that that's a bad thing.

I also used this one to make iced tea. It works great, mixed with three parts to one part of lemon ginger or wild raspberry.

Contents: 20 tea bags per box.
I paid: $3.29

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tea - More Sample Sizes

A little while back, I applauded tea makers and distributors who offer the good stuff in sample packages. For tea fans who want to try a wide variety without breaking the bank or getting stuck with duds, this is an eminently sensible idea.

So add Adagio Teas to the list of eminently sensible companies. They offer a great line of top notch teas, including some unusual varieties, many of which can be had in sample sizes.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Tea Review 8 - Kalahari Red

Kalahari Red Tea
Kalahari Limited

As far as I can tell, rooibos tea is pretty much rooibos tea, no matter who makes it. At least that's been my experience so far, just going on the evidence provided to me by my taste buds. Perhaps, upon further investigation, I'll find that there are high grades of rooibos and crappier grades. That research will have to wait for now.

The last rooibos I reviewed was from Twinings. Kalahari, which calls itself a "premium South African rooibos herb tea," does not taste noticeably different, though ideally, I should have done a side by side taste test. Kalahari also bills itself as "the original pure rooibos." The box offers no explanation for this claim, though it does point out that the "tea" is made using only the tips of the plants. So maybe there's something to the company's claim that it's a premium variety.

Founded by a Californian and a South African, Kalahari is distributed on these shores from a base in Atlanta, Georgia. I brewed a cup using almost boiling water and steeped it for about five minutes. Color and taste were about the same as any other rooibos I've sampled, but again, a side by side taste test might provide more accurate results.

Recommended, as are any of the rooibos brands I've tried thus far.

Contents: 20 tea bags in a box.
I paid: $2.79

Tea - Top UK Tea Makers & Brands

Here are the UK's top tea makers and brands. The source is the Mintel market research group, by way of Brand Republic.

Top Manufacturers
Tetley Group
Unilever Bestfoods
Premier Foods
Associated British Foods
Bettys & Taylors

Top Brands
PG Tips
Twinings Speciality

Friday, August 12, 2005

Tea Review 7 - Steaz Key Lime

Steaz Key Lime Green Tea Soda
The Healthy Beverage Company

Thus far I've had the opportunity to taste four of Steaz's eight flavors of green tea soda (lemon, orange, root beer and now lime) and thus far I've been relatively unimpressed. Key Lime, my latest Steaz experience, is the only one I'd really give the thumbs up to, though to be fair, I have yet to sample cola, ginger ale, grape and raspberry.

Steaz sodas all use pretty much the same basic mix of ingredients - sparkling filtered water, organic evaporated cane juice, organic Ceylon tea and an assortment of "bottom of the label" ingredients. The unique ingredient in this case, of course, is natural key lime flavor and this time around Steaz has finally come close to hitting the nail on the head. Key Lime has a nice taste, with just the right mix of fizz, sweetness and tang.

Unlike other Steaz products that I've sampled, this is one that I would come back to again.

Contents: 12 ounce bottle
I Paid: $.51 (clearance price)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Tea News - Tetley Introduces Elaichi Flavor

Next time you're in India - or if you're there now - be sure to check out Tetley Tea's new elaichi flavor, which was recently added to a lineup that also contains masala, ginger, lemon and Earl Grey. In case you didn't know, Tetley's Indian varieties are custom made for Indian tea drinkers, who prefer their tea with milk.

Now, if you're like me, you have no clue what elaichi is. After about six seconds of research, I discovered that elaichi is simply another word for (drum roll please) cardamom.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Tea Review 6 - Steaz Root Beer

Root Beer Green Tea Soda
The Healthy Beverage Company

I liked root beer well enough when I was growing up, but I was never a huge fan. I was much more enamored of the charms of birch beer. Remember that one?

Healthy Beverage Company makes eight flavors of green tea soda, which it markets under the Steaz brand. Five of these are fruit flavors (see the review of orange here), which makes sense, and one is ginger ale, which doesn't sound half bad.

The other two flavors, though, just don't sound like winning ideas, at least not on paper. I haven't had a chance to sample Steaz's cola variety yet, though I have to admit that their root beer was nowhere near as gruesome as I expected.

I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but the notion of root beer mixed with green tea just didn't ring any bells for me. Of course, if the truth be must be told, my crude palate couldn't detect any tea flavor at all. As for the root beer, it was passably good, if a little bland.

All of Steaz's sodas are organic micro-brews, with no preservatives. The root beer mix is sparkling filtered water, organic evaporated cane juice, natural root beer flavor and caramel color. The green tea component, as with all Steaz varieties, is organic Ceylon green tea. There are also a few other minor ingredients listed.

It's been a long time since I've had a proper root beer, so perhaps I'm not the best person to judge this one. But I'd be willing to bet that root beer lovers could do better. As for green tea fans, well, unless you buy into that "green tea as miracle health tonic" song and dance, you could do better too.

Contents: 12 ounce bottle
I paid: $.51 (clearance price)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Tea News - New From Choice and Celestial Seasonings

Choice Organic Teas is rolling out a new variety. Dragon Well Green Tea is scheduled to be released in mid March as part of the Choice Organic Teas Fair Trade Certified® line. Choice also announced, earlier this year, that all of their Rooibos offerings will be certified organic and Fair Trade Certified™ as of August 2005.

Also on the new release front, according to a blip in the Rocky Mountain News, Celestial Seasonings is releasing three new ones - Sweet Apple Chamomile Herb Tea, African Orange Mango Rooibos Tea and Blueberry Ice Cool Brew Iced Tea.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Tea - Best Restaurant Iced Tea

When I'm at home, I like to supplement my hot tea intake with a little bit of iced tea, especially during the warmer months. Makes sense. Since I make my own, I know exactly what goes into it and I can make it to taste. This is a good thing.

In a restaurant, it's a whole 'nuther ballgame. Restaurant iced tea is something of a crap shoot and a lot of times I just don't bother. The so-called tea one is served in these situations ranges from merely acceptable to barely palatable to some kind of liquid dreck "brewed" from a powdered mix of ingredients that barely resembles tea to something that tastes like it's been siphoned from a dead dog's bladder after said canine has had a chance to lie in the sun and ferment for a few days.

Which is why I'm pleased to named my personal pick for Best Restaurant Iced Tea. Yeah, I know. You've been waiting on the edge of your seat.

Pita Jungle has several locations in the Phoenix area. It's a casual place with a sort of hip Mediterranean feel and cuisine - and some killer iced tea. Actually they serve two types of iced tea, but if you're like me you wouldn't dream of wasting your time with berry. Go straight for what is commonly known as "regular," though last time around I heard someone describe it as passionfruit.

Passionfruit it may be. I can't quite place the flavor and I wouldn't know a passionfruit if it came up and bit me on the ankle. All I know is that this is a quite tasty mix of black tea with some faint fruit flavor and nary a trace of bitterness. An iced tea so fine, I'd venture to say, that I sometimes leave this establishment feeling distinctly waterlogged.

So, if you ever have reason to be in the Phoenix area and, more specifically, in Pita Jungle, you know what beverage to order. Just hope that they haven't run out. It's been known to happen.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tea News - Republic of Tea Pomegranate

Pomegranate Green Tea
Republic of Tea

If you've ever been in the market for decent quality tea and didn't want to have to resort to mail order, then you may have run across Republic of Tea's products. The Novato, CA-based company has been doing their thing since 1992 and, while you may not find them in the average grocery store, you stand a pretty good chance of stumbling across their wares in more upscale groceries, specialty stores and the like.

One of the company's latest ventures is a Pomegranate Green Tea, which recently hit the market. It's a blend of Chinese green tea with pomegranate juice produced by the POM Wonderful company. The latter are said to be "largest grower and marketer of the Wonderful variety of fresh pomegranates." To which I say - why not, somebody's gotta be.

Suggested retail price is $9 for a 2.8 ounce tin containing 50 of Republic's nifty round tea bags. I don't recall if I've ever eaten a pomegranate (I seem to vaguely recall eating a pomeranian once, but that's another story), but it all sounds fine and dandy by me.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tea Review 5 - Stash Wild Raspberry

Wild Raspberry Herbal Tea
The Stash Tea Company

Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a consumer of berry-flavored herbal tea, but the fact remains that I find most of them too tart. Stash's Wild Raspberry, one of it's so-called premium varieties, is no exception.

Stash, an Oregon-based tea company, has been doing their thing since 1972. They offer an extensive line of loose and bagged teas in green, black and other formulations, along with some flavored varieties and a wide assortment of herbal tea. Stash also offers gift packs and tea-related accessories, if you're into that sort of thing. This whole kit and caboodle is collected into a catalog that appears a few times a year and whose arrival is eagerly anticipated in my neck of the woods.

Wild Raspberry uses what seems to be a more or less standard mix of ingredients for many herbal teas - hibiscus flowers, orange peel, lemongrass, rosehips, licorice powder and citric acid. And, of course, there are the natural raspberry flavors.

The recommended prep time is three to five minutes in "hot" water. I brewed mine for about four minutes in water that was probably 10-15 degrees shy of boiling. The tea brews up with a nice dark red color and reminds me why I like to drink tea from a clear glass rather than a mug.

Perhaps my taste buds are not refined enough, but all I got out of this one was a very tart berry flavor. Your results may vary.

I do find a tea like this useful for brewing iced tea, though I prefer to mix it with something more low-key, like a rooibos or even a black tea, though my delicate constitution doesn't always allow for the latter. In a mix of two parts rooibos (or black) to one part raspberry, the tartness is considerably diluted and there's just the right touch of berry flavor.

Contents: 20 tea bags to a box.
I Paid: $1.50 (sale price)