The Good: Caffeinated, Good ingredients, Tastes good.
The Bad: Dry aftertaste typical to green teas, Doesn't truly energize the consumer
The Basics: A good green tea, Honey Lemon Ginseng falls a little shy of a stronger recommendation because it understates the lemon and honey flavors.
Once upon a time, I wrote my third novel. That's a stupid beginning, but the truth is, when I wrote my third novel I had a little gimmick to it; every chapter begins with a different letter of the alphabet (and unlike some "popular" authors, I didn't cheat!). The book begins with "Almond Honey Tea" and one of my former college professors I shared the chapter with thought that the title was pleasant and sounded delicious.
I mention this because when I was out picking up tea this week, I came across Celestial Seasonings' Honey Lemon Ginseng tea and my instant reaction was "that sounds delightful!" I was fairly sure, actually, that back when I was in college, I consumed quite a bit of this and when I brewed up my first pot of it, it all came back to me. This was one of the first teas that got me into Celestial Seasonings and considering how loyal of a customer I have been since, this is a pretty powerful tea, I suppose!
Honey Lemon Ginseng is a tea from Celestial Seasonings. It is a 100% natural green tea that is caffeinated and made solely of green tea leaves. This means that instead of letting the leaves dry or harvesting them after their prime, the leaves are plucked at the peak of growth. Honey Lemon Ginseng 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 Honey Lemon Ginseng comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.
Honey Lemon Ginseng is marketed as a lightly flavored green tea and it is all right, though it does fall down on the lemon front. Those accustomed to Celestial Seasonings' richness of flavor in their other teas are likely to be somewhat let down by how weak the fruit flavor is in this particular tea. Because it is a green tea, Celestial Seasonings seems quite concerned with keeping the flavor subtle, so it is less bold than some of the other teas that trade on being lemon flavored.
Ease Of Preparation
Honey Lemon Ginseng is a green tea, which means preparation is ridiculously easy! One need not even be able to boil water to make this tea. Green teas, as the directions clearly state, require water that is not quite boiling. Boiling water cooks the tea leaves and ruins the flavor, so water used for green teas like this one must be kept below a full boil. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea, though reusing the tea bags yields little more than hot water. These tea bags cannot be reused and even credibly call the result "tea." Indeed, the second pots I've tried were incredibly weak, tasting like colored water as opposed to tea. These bags are one-use only. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though it is impossible to get a decent second pot out of the bags.
To prepare Honey Lemon Ginseng, simply heat up some water, and pour it over the tea bags in a cup, mug or steeping pot. This tea is recommended to take three to five minutes to steep and based on my extensive experience with this particular tea, I've found that with almost boiling water, the tea is ready at the five minute mark and letting it steep longer does not truly 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.
Honey Lemon Ginseng tastes great. There is a subtle flavor to it that balances the actual taste (but not the sweetness) of honey with the tea leaf flavor. The lemon is almost entirely absent, but this also means that the tea is not at all tart. Instead, there is a somewhat generic, ginseng tea flavor to this that is not in any way overpowering. Sadly, that makes it very difficult to describe as well.
The only taste note worth griping about - outside the lack of actual lemon flavor in a tea where that is part of the billing - is the aftertaste. Green teas are notorious for a dry aftertaste. Honey Lemon Ginseng is no exception in this regard; the tea leaves the mouth feeling and tasting dry, though this is one of the least strong aftertastes in a green tea I have yet experienced from Celestial Seasonings. It is not distinct or carrying any other flavor, it is simply the essence and taste of dry.
With sugar, Honey Lemon Ginseng becomes sweet and it supplements the taste of honey. Also of note, it is with a teaspoon of sugar that the faint taste of lemon comes through as well. Somehow the sugar releases the flavor of citrus - without any sour taste or aftertaste, making it ideal with sweetener. Sugar also cuts the aftertaste. Milk, however, overwhelms all of the flavor of Honey Lemon Ginseng tea.
Iced, Honey Lemon Ginseng is not bad, though it tastes more distinctly green tea than Honey Lemon Ginseng in its cooled form. . The green tea flavor dominates and when sugar is added to the tea cold, it only slightly accents the lemon flavor. It is good, but definitely a tea that is better hot.
It is somewhat surprising that the lemon flavor is submissive in Honey Lemon Ginseng, based on the ingredients. The primary ingredients are Green Tea, Eleuthero, and Lemon Verbena. That the tea bears the taste of honey better than lemon with lemon verbena so high on the list is surprising. Honey Lemon Ginseng tea is all natural, gluten free, and does contain caffeine. The brand new packaging does not include a caffeine meter to define clearly how much caffeine is in this, but it does not energize one in the morning, I have discovered. It is all right for an afternoon pick me up, though.
Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of Honey Lemon Ginseng, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein.
Honey Lemon Ginseng is a green tea, so it comes out much lighter than other teas. As a result, cleanup is rather simple. The mugs and steeping pot easily rinse out. This tea will stain fabrics if left on them, like most teas, but it is hardly the most extreme in this regard. This cleans up easily and lighter fabrics stained with Honey Lemon Ginseng ought to rinse out well.
Honey Lemon Ginseng 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. One of the nice things about this tea - like most - is that so long as it is kept cool and dry, it can last for a long time and it is easy to clean up.
Coming back to Honey Lemon Ginseng left me feeling a surprising amount of nostalgia for my college days, from the first whiff of the ginseng and ginger steam coming off my mug. However, as an objective reviewer, I find that I am a bit disappointed in the lack of real flavor - especially the advertised lemon flavor - in the tea, leaving it a somewhat more generic green tea flavor. In truth, though, I appreciate the attempt at spicing up green tea as opposed to bland, straight green tea; I'd take this over virtually any other green tea any day of the week!
But, being a green tea does not exempt it from having to live up to its advertised flavor. While it comes close with sugar, without it, the tea is a little too generic.
For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Herb Tea Sampler
For other beverage reviews, please visit my specialized index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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