The Good: Good taste hot, Nothing bad in it, With sugar does taste vanilla-esque, Caffeinated!
The Bad: Doesn't quite taste like vanilla, Aftertaste
The Basics: A good tea, despite not quite tasting like vanilla until one adds sugar, Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice is an energizing black tea!
I'm a pretty strict grader, which is how I illustrate some semblance of discrimination in what I review. In that regard, I like "adjective teas," teas with funny names that do not quite tell the person drinking them exactly what they are, like "Earl Grey" and "Darjeeling" because there is not a precise flavor the tea is declaring itself as. If a tea is a fruit tea, it better taste like the fruit it claims to be. Adjective teas require nothing so discriminating, they can be a purely subjective experience.
So, when Celestial Seasonings takes its "Hi-Energy" Marrakesh Express tea and tacked on "Vanilla Spice" to the title, I felt cheated. Especially when I began drinking it. This tea would have been wonderful had only the makers left it as the unspecific "Marrakesh Express" as opposed to insisting that this tea was supposed to taste like vanilla. As a result, this tea suffers some.
Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice is a 100% Natural Black Tea from Celestial Seasonings. This black tea is 100% natural and as a result it contains caffeine. This is a rather strong tea and has a mild tea aroma, nothing so distinct as the spices that might well be in here.
Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice comes in Celestial Seasoning'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 Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.
Ease Of Preparation
Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice is your standard black tea, requiring truly boiling water to release its true potential. It is prepared like a normal black tea. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea and could be reused and make a second cup of Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice with very little loss of flavor. This is a great tea for a miser who reuses tea bags. The second cup often comes out as strong as the first, provided the first steeping was not more than the recommended upper recommended steeping time of five minutes. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though a second pot with the same bags will come out about 3/4 strength.
To prepare Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. It ought to go without saying that the tea bags ought to be in a mug or steeping pot at the time one pours the boiling water over the tea bags. This tea takes three to five minutes to steep according to the directions and if the water is truly boiling, I've found it comes out strong at the three 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. As mentioned before, this tea has a similar flavor on a second brewing, lending extra value to the tea bags.
Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice might best be described as "Earl Gray Lite." This tea has a very heady tea flavor to it. The scent is that of black tea leaves, not the cinnamon or licorice that are contained within tea. Actually, the licorice flavor is the first sub-tea flavor in this beverage. The Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice tea is tea, then liquid licorice, with only the most mild hint of vanilla in its pure tea form.
Also in its natural state, this tea has a pretty dry aftertaste. After about three minutes, my mouth tasted chalky. It was a bit unpleasant and disappointing given the prominent flavoring to discover that one has to chase this tea or else get a mildly unpleasant taste in one's mouth.
But hot with sugar, that's where the vanilla flavor comes out. With a teaspoon of sugar, the Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice actually tastes like a vanilla ice cream. It is not bad, though the tea flavor still dominates. As a result, the licorice flavor gets sublimated, but the vanilla still does not dominate. But it is a fair vanilla, the kind that we are conditioned to believe is what vanilla tastes like. With sugar and a splash of milk, this effect is accented and it is like one put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a mug of Earl Grey tea!
Cold, the tea is pretty nasty with the bitterness of the aftertaste coming through more prominently and as the primary flavor of the tea. So, to get the most out of this tea, I found that one ought to add at least sugar to it.
The ingredients to this tea are some of the stranger ones for a Celestial Seasonings all natural tea. The top three are black tea, natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavors, and cinnamon. There is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is 100% natural, though, strangely the final ingredient is "caffeine," so one wonders how that got in there and why it was necessary. For those concerned, hidden away on the bottom is the statement that this is gluten free.
In terms of nutrition, this tea completely lacks it. One 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, or protein. In addition to getting an energized feeling form the ginseng in the tea, this does have caffeine. It rates a 60 on the Caffeine meter, which is well above cola and about 2/3 the coffee of "drip coffee!"
Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice 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 rather dark tea and might stain delicate fabrics, so if it spills, it ought to be cleaned right off things like tablecloths or albino mice.
Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice is a good tea and it lives up to its claim to energize, but it requires a bit of work to get the vanilla flavor out of it! The problem is, it just doesn't taste like what it's supposed to. It has a wonderful tea and licorice flavor to it, but it only lives up to its "Vanilla" name with sugar. It should be noted, I'm on the fence about that and if one is content with a tea that just tastes like good tea, then this might be sufficient for you. But for those wanting a light vanilla flavor, they are bound to find this taste a bit rich and heavy.
But for those looking for a pick-me-up in the evening or morning when taste might not matter so much, this tea works great. It does get one going!
For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
Honey Vanilla White Tea Chai
Decaf Mint Green Tea
For other food and drink reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.