Monday, June 13, 2011

Stocking Up On The Mediocre? No, I Think Not! "Sleepytime Vanilla" 6-pack Disappoints!

The Good: Nothing bad in it, Good aroma
The Bad: Environmentally irresponsible bulk, Doesn't taste at all like vanilla
The Basics: A very bland tea, there is little reason I can find to stock up on Sleepytime Vanilla.

I'm not a big fan of Celestial Seasonings' Sleepytime tea (reviewed here!). In the pantheon of chamomile teas, Sleepytime is the most flavorful, but this is about equivalent to naming a comedian the "funniest Holocaust humor joketeller;" no matter how good that person is, the jokes are still going to be in bad taste. By extension, you can spice up a chamomile tea all you want, but it's still going to be pretty bland. Sleepytime is less bland than most, but it is still a chamomile base. And Sleepytime Vanilla . . . well, that's like putting whiteface on an albino! This tea is bland and stocking up on it is utterly pointless.


Sleepytime Vanilla is an all-natural Herbal Tea from Celestial Seasonings. This Herbal tea is 100% natural and as a result is caffeine free - none of the ingredients in it had caffeine to begin with so it did not undergo any chemical process to remove them. Chamomile is a wildflower and its use as a tea is interesting, but yields a tea reminiscent of dandelion juice. Sleepytime Vanilla beefs up the usual chamomile flavor, but then the addition of vanilla flavoring seems to undermine the spicing of the traditional Sleepytime.

Sleepytime Vanilla 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 Sleepytime Vanilla tea comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.

The box of twenty tea bags is bulked together with another five, connected by an outer cellophane wrapper. In other words, there is no saving the environment by purchasing the six pack in bulk in this way. This is a simple bundle pack, six boxes wrapped together! For those considering trying this, you might want to purchase the single box instead and give it a try that way.

Ease Of Preparation

Sleepytime Vanilla is a very standard tea; it is your basic herbal tea when it comes to preparation. Like many other Celestial Seasonings teas, there are no tea leaves listed in the ingredients, so this herbal tea flower-based. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea and could be reused and make a second, rather weak cup of Sleepytime Vanilla tea. The second cup often comes out about as far weaker than the first, which is a serious detraction given how weak it is to begin with. 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 1/4 - 3/8 strength. In other words, this is a terrible tea for the teabag miser!

To prepare Sleepytime tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags, in a pot or mug. This tea takes four to six minutes to steep according to the directions and if the water is truly boiling, I've found it can use the entire six minutes. Like most chamomile-based teas, this is a tea that I can never make strong enough. After six minutes, the flavor does not seem to get any stronger so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that. Sleepytime Vanilla never gets "too strong."

For those purchasing in bulk because they are making this in quantity, I've found that two tea bags per 32 oz. of boiling water is the ideal combination for making it in bulk. Thus, with the one hundred twenty tea bags in this multipack one could either make one hundred twenty cups, sixty pots, or one giant 1920 oz. container of Sleepytime Vanilla.


Sleepytime is Celestial Seasonings flagship tea and Sleepytime Vanilla seems to be attempting to capitalize on the name association without people considering what the base tea was. I picked this up this summer with my partner because she wanted it while we were at the plant in Boulder, Colorado. it is hard to see why. Sleepytime Vanilla is like virtually every other chamomile-based tea: it smells like ricewater and it tastes like it, too. From the moment one pours boiling water on the tea bags, the scent of rice will diffuse through the kitchen/dining space. The Sleepytime tea has a surprisingly strong aroma given how weak the tea is.

The tea tastes like rice but with a dry aftertaste. Like many of the Celestial Seasonings' teas, the vanilla flavor is not at all prominent in the actual tea, but comes out in the aftertaste, a dry post-swallow sensation that envelopes the tongue. It's not a strong flavor, it's not something delicious beyond all compare, it is lightly flavored water.

To give one an idea on the lack of flavor, adding anything to Sleepytime Vanilla tea overwhelms it. Adding sugar takes any bite out of the aftertaste and sweetens the tea. Sugar tends to overwhelm the flavor of the rice and dryness of the aftertaste. The same thing happens with honey. Even milk overwhelms the chamomile flavor of the tea. This is a very subtle flavor of tea and not likely to wow those who enjoy lots of flavorful teas.

Cold, the tea is just as bland, though the aftertaste is even stronger and makes the tongue feel even dryer.


Like what one might expect from a tea that smells and tastes like rice water, this tea is pretty low on the scale of nutritional value. That's not to say it is bad for the drinker, it just does not have much to recommend it. This tea is primarily made of: Chamomile, spearmint, and West Indian lemon grass. It surprised me to read there was mint in this tea, as it does not have even a hint of that in the taste. There is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is noted as being gluten free (for whom that matters). It is also kosher.

In terms of nutrition, Chamomile is another tea in a long line of teas that contribute nothing but hydration to the body. There is no nutritional benefit or detriment to this tea. 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 and no caffeine. This is more a flavored water than a tea!


Sleepytime 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 still very light like a Chamomile, but it washes out of most fabrics easily. As well, it does not leave any residual flavor in one's teapot or mug.


Why stock up on something so bland? I've no idea, that's why I'm suggesting readers do not! This is a mediocre at best tea and in the six-pack, the cellophane is almost as tasty. And with that, at least one expects a dry aftertaste!

For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
Organic Mango Darjeeling
Marrakesh Express Vanilla Spice


For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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