The Good: Tastes wonderfully like apples and cranberries, With sugar, it tastes amazing
The Bad: Caffeine Free
The Basics: With two distinct fruit flavors that are well represented and have a real punch, Cranberry Apple Zinger is a real winner from Celestial Seasonings.
Fruit teas are a real tough call for me. I love to drink them and I've been averaging two and a half pots of tea a day since I started reviewing teas. As I continue through my massive tea collection, I've found that I have a genuinely tough time recommending most of the teas I might actually enjoy because of my own sense of standards. I want my fruit teas to taste like what they claim to be. If you are proudly declaring your fruit, you'd better taste like it! As a fan of Celestial Seasonings teas, I've been finding that I'm often critiquing teas from a brand I love and it's possible some might think I do not actually love the company or it product, but nothing could be further from the truth.
With "Cranberry Apple Zinger," there will be no doubt how much I love Celestial Seasonings! "Cranberry Apple Zinger" is one of Celestial Seasonings' herb teas that gets the flavor perfectly right for what it claims to be: cranberries and apple. It's strange because the only other Celestial Seasonings tea that so knocked me over with the authenticity of its fruit flavor was the Cinnamon Apple Spice (reviewed here!). I suppose apple is a flavor that is easy to translate into a tea, but if it's not, then Celestial Seasonings does amazing work with apples and "Cranberry Apple Zinger" is further proof of that!
Cranberry Apple Zinger is a tea from Celestial Seasonings. It is an herb tea that has no caffeine because all of the all natural herbs in it are naturally devoid of caffeine. Cranberry Apple Zinger 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 Cranberry Apple Zinger comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.
Cranberry Apple Zinger is marketed as a primarily Cranberry flavored tea and it truthfully is the archetype of cranberries, sour and mean, when one first sips it. Straight the 100% natural tea hits the consumer with a blast of sour taste before melting from the cranberry taste into the essence of apple.
Ease Of Preparation
Cranberry Apple Zinger is a tea, which means preparation ridiculously easy. There is little science to the preparation of teas like this and anyone intimidated by making tea ought to be very worried; you don't get much easier tasks in the kitchen than making a pot of tea! A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea, though reusing the tea bags yields a rather weak brew. A second use of the bag yields a tea that is about 5/8 strong and is dominated by the cranberry flavoring. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though it is difficult to get a satisfying second pot out of the bags.
To prepare Cranberry Apple Zinger, simply boil some water, and pour it over the tea bags in a cup, mug or steeping pot. This tea is recommended to take four to six minutes to steep and after a couple cups and pots, I've found that with truly boiling water, the tea is ready at the four minute mark and letting it steep longer strangely does not change the results. Letting the tea steep more than six minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.
When visiting the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder, Colorado and taking the free tour there, I remember distinctly the tour guide warning us all that with the Zinger teas milk cannot be added. If you add milk to a Zinger tea, the tea curdles the milk, I'm fairly sure it was because of the citric acid in the tea. The problem is, I'm not positive that's the reason (I am sure of the warning and the result of adding milk to Zinger teas), but I seem to recall that citric acid was to blame. As a result of a good faith belief that the people who produce this product know what they are talking about, none of my sampling of Cranberry Apple Zinger involved adding milk to it.
Cranberry Apple Zinger impressed me before the first sip. The aroma to the Cranberry Apple Zinger is that of an apple and cinnamon (which makes sense given the ingredients). The cranberry does not come through by the vapors, but the apple does and it is strong and inviting and opens the drinker up to a steaming cup of apple.
And a surprise. The first taste is cranberry and unless one has added sugar to it, it's not a kind, pacified "Ocean Spray" type cranberry flavor that greets the consumer. Instead, this is the punk of the cranberry bog that comes in to stomp on the taste buds with attitude. Cranberry Apple Zinger tastes just like bog-ripened cranberries and the flavor is sour and distinct and undeniably cranberry in flavor. The nice thing is, it doesn't stay mean and cranberry for long.
The bold flavor of the cranberries fades almost immediately from the tongue into a safe, pedestrian and delicious apple taste, just like the smell had previewed for the consumer. The apple flavor is kinder to the taste buds and after the shock of the cranberries, it is a delicious combination. It is also evidence of how cagey the food scientists at Celestial Seasonings truly are; the apple flavor cuts the cranberry and dissipates any potential aftertaste! Anyone who has had real cranberries knows that they leave a distinct aftertaste in the mouth for a while after consumption of the berries. The apple flavor dominates instead of any aftertaste and it is a welcome change for the person drinking this tea!
With a teaspoon of sugar, this tea tastes sweet in the way that cranberry juice tastes. Okay, in all honestly, I add a heaping tablespoon to this tea and it is like a cranberry juice cocktail chased by apple cider. And damn, is it delicious! The respectable flavor of cranberries that most Americans are conditioned to believe is what cranberries taste like is exactly what the Cranberry Apple Zinger tea tastes like with sugar added. It is a delightful taste and the sugar effectively cuts the sour right out.
Cranberry Apple Zinger is sour and the apple taste is muted when it is served cold. Iced, without sugar, this tea is strangely accented by the tea flavor as opposed to either of the fruits that define the flavor when hot. Iced with sugar or the honey that the directions recommend, it is pleasant enough with an accent on the apple over the cranberries. But it is not the preferred way to drink this otherwise wonderful tea.
It's not surprising that the dominant aroma of Cranberry Apple Zinger is cinnamon, considering that the primary ingredients are: hibiscus, cinnamon and roasted chicory. Ironically, cranberries and apples round out the bottom of the ingredient list, yet the flavor works so it is very hard to complain! Cranberry Apple Zinger tea is naturally caffeine-free.
Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of Cranberry Apple Zinger, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein. Fortunately it has taste, even if it lacks caffeine!
Cranberry Apple Zinger is 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 is fairly dark and it will stain, if one left it on fabric, but mugs that hold the tea rinse clean. Spills ought to be cleaned up quickly to prevent this tea from staining fabrics, though that's a pretty good general rule not just limited to the Cranberry Apple Zinger tea.
Cranberry Apple Zinger lives up to its name and it wows the consumer with flavor and genuine fruit taste. It is best hot and with a little less sugar than I put in it, but anyone who wants a strong fruit tea that actually tastes like the fruit it is supposed to would do well to pick this one up!
For other Celestial Seasonings teas, please check out my reviews of:
Organic Mango Darjeeling
For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.