The Good: Highly caffeinated, Tastes good, Generally responsible bulk
The Bad: No longer available in (most) stores!
The Basics: Tasteful, this cinnamon-flavored tea is designed to inject energy into the consumer and it does that amazingly well. Worth getting in bulk, if you can find it at all.
Back when I was in college, I was a workaholic who produced a lot and slept very little. So, for example, each semester I was in college, I had at least three jobs (including selling my notes to other students) in addition to attending school full time. How did I accomplish this? I had help. Unlike others I saw who were doping up and checking out, I allowed myself the best possible artificial means of staying awake and on top of my workload: caffeine. My preferred method was Celestial Seasonings Fast Lane tea.
Fast Lane tea popped up during the ginseng craze of the late 1990s and is a highly-caffeinated tea that is now only available directly through Celestial Seasonings. So, now each year when I visit the Celestial Seasonings store in Boulder, Colorado, I am sure to get my fill for the year! When I buy it, I buy it by the case of six boxes.
Fast Lane is a Black Tea from Celestial Seasonings. This black tea is 100% natural and has caffeine because the base is black tea. It is a very simple tea in every way, though it is more flavorful than standard black teas where the only ingredient is the tea leaves.
Fast Lane comes in Celestial Seasonings's standard stringless tea bags, which are paired together with easy to separate perforations that allow one to separate the tea bags. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and leave them connected. A box of Fast Lane comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags. The half-case includes six boxes cellophane together and while I am not wild about the environmental impact of all the plastic, I live with it because the tea is so good and worth stocking up on!
Ease Of Preparation
Fast Lane is like a standard black tea as far as the preparation goes. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea. The tea bag could be reused and make a second cup of Fast Lane and this is a fairly good flavor for that. The second cup or pot, comes out about three-quarters as strong as the first, but provided the first steeping was not more than the recommended upper recommended steeping time of five minutes, this is pretty good. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping teapot and that works well for both a first and second steeping.
To prepare Fast Lane tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. This tea takes three to five minutes to steep and when the water is actually boiling, it comes out strong by the four minute point without needing any additional time. After five minutes, though, the flavor does not concentrate any more so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that.
Fast Lane Tea is a strong black tea and when it is brewed it smells like cinnamon. Here is an important point of differentiation: this smells like actual cinnamon, not the “cinnamon apple” light and sugary scent we have been conditioned to believe is the smell of cinnamon. This smells like cinnamon, nutmeg and tea.
Hot, Fast Lane is bold and has a somewhat dry taste (not quite as dry as Earl Grey). Instead, it tastes like brewed bark and it is a very masculine scent which is rich and dominated by the straightforward taste of black tea leaves. This is a tea that is intended to perk one up, so it is not trading on a fancy flavor. The dominant spice, though, is cinnamon.
As the tea begins to cool, it takes on an increasingly dry aftertaste, but it never gets to the point where the taste is unpleasant. With sugar Fast Lane becomes sweeter and the cinnamon flavor becomes more what most consumers are used to when they think of cinnamon. With milk, the tea holds its own and just becomes a slightly creamier beverage, though the aftertaste gets cut completely.
This tea is all-natural like most of Celestial Seasonings's teas and this is one of the most specific teas on the market. It is designed to energize and it does that very well. The ingredients are primarily black tea, cinnamon and eleuthero, which is probably why it tastes so much like cinnamon tea! There is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is 100% natural. It is noted that this tea is gluten-free and is Kosher as well.
In terms of nutrition, like most teas, Fast Lane is not something you want to try to live on. An 8 oz. mug of this tea provides nothing of nutritional value to the drinker; there are no calories (save what one adds from sugar or milk), no fat, sodium, nor protein. This tea also has a ton of caffeine, approximately 110 mg, which is a little more than drip coffee and a little less than a double espresso.
Fast Lane tea is very easy to clean up after - the tea bags may be disposed in the garbage, or composted if you have a good garden and/or compost pile. The tea itself is a very dark tea and will stain light fabrics if left on them. Fast Lane tea does not stain mugs or tea pots or leave any offensive odors that might make one want to wash it away quickly.
I’ve been drinking this tea for a long time and it does exactly what it promises. This tea is intended to energize and invigorate and it does that exceptionally well. In fact, if one is looking for a more tasteful alternative to coffee without having to use sweeteners, Fast Lane is the ideal tea and it is well worth stocking up on!
For other teas by Celestial Seasonings, please check out my reviews of:
India Spice Chai
Vanilla Strawberry Rose
For other food and beverage reviews, please be sure to check out my index page for all the foods I’ve reviewed!
© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.