The Good: Tastes fine, Nothing bad in it
The Bad: Decaffeinated, Too subtle to actually recommend, Tea bag garbage
The Basics: A cointoss led me to rate this "meh" tea as below average and I stand by that coin! A dull, tea-flavored tea that didn't light my fire.
Every now and then, I try to shake up my reviews by trying something new. Perhaps the pride and joy of those attempts would be my tongue-in-cheek, "Pitch Review" that formed my review of the forthcoming Star Trek film (that's here!). As those who follow my reviews know, I am a pretty loyal customer to Celestial Seasonings. I love their teas and it takes a lot to pry me away from them. So, when a friend who knew how much I love tea picked me up a few boxes of Tazo tea, I put off sampling them for as long as possible. But to shake things up a bit, I'm doing first cup reviews of the Tazo teas! While usually I have several pots of a tea before I write about it, for my review of Tazo Lotus Decaffeinated Green Tea, I have decided to review based on the first cup.
Actually, in the interest of honesty, this will actually be based on the first two cups because I am doing my usual trying to brew a second cup from the single bag and we'll see how that goes.
Tazo sells itself as "The Reincarnation Of Tea," a new age type tea company that is trying to appeal to those who drink tea for health, wellness and balance as opposed to just someone looking for a hot drink. Despite anything else that might follow in this review, I find that corporate philosophy to be wonderfully reassuring.
Tazo Lotus is a decaffeinated green tea from Tazo, a tea company in Portland, Oregon. The tea comes individually wrapped in the box of twenty bags, each tea bag with its own string and paper tab, much like the classic Lipton look. For a company selling itself on responsibility to mind and body, one might find this ironic; why they did not mimic Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags in tribute to the environment is something of a mystery. The twenty bag box is generally found in the same price range as Celestial Seasonings tea and the stark contrast in boxes makes for an easy visual distinction.
Lotus is a green tea designed to give the drinker the sense of a Chinese green tea with a sense of subtlety and flavor. The press on this product is confusing as it tries to sell itself on the idea that it is both subtle and full of power. Perhaps I'm missing something as those are usually mutually exclusive. Actually, when it comes to the taste, perhaps they have found a way to overcome those two contradictory elements.
Ease Of Preparation
Lotus is a remarkably easy tea to prepare. Well, it's not as easy as a Celestial Seasonings tea; those you open a single wrapper and drop the tea bag into a teapot! Lotus requires one to open the box, remove the paper-wrapped tea bag, unwrap that, unwind the string from around the tea bag and then set it into the teapot. Yes, it's still easy, but it's fun to be dramatic about it from time to time.
In all seriousness, Lotus is very easy to prepare. One need only place the tea bag in a mug or a steeping pot and pour near-boiling water over it. Let steep for three to five minutes and the tea is ready. For my first cup, I let it steep the full five minutes to get the full flavor from it. This yielded a fairly dark cup of tea, especially for a green tea.
For those who are tea bag misers, a second cup made by reusing the same tea bag resulted in a mug of tea that was 3/4 strong as the first cup. The tea was about the right coloring for a green tea after five minutes of steeping, but more than five minutes did not reconstitute it more. Actually, this makes for an increased value to the tea bags as it seems like the second steeping still yields a fair beverage!
I like adjective teas because they do not require me to hold them to a standard by which I compare them to the thing that they claim to taste like. I like unconformity and adjective teas - teas where the name does not tell one anything about the flavor - are the culinary embodiment of that. Unfortunately, it also leaves one without a strong, universal basis for comparison when it comes to reviewing the item. What does "Lotus" green tea taste like?
Here's the problem: Lotus tastes like tea. As someone who has reviewed a lot of teas - many from Celestial Seasonings which are hot fruit drinks more than tea - the best way one might describe Lotus truthfully is that hot and straight, it tastes like tea. To be clear, the mystery here is this: Lotus tastes like a straightforward black tea, like three times as strong as Lipton's standard, with the aftertaste of a green tea. Tea connoisseurs will note there is a slightly sour, dry aftertaste that comes with green teas more often than not. When one tries a green tea, they tend to expect that. I was surprised on my first mug that the tea looked darker than a usual green tea, did not have much of an aroma (a surprise for a tea as dark and steaming as mine was) and it tasted more like a black tea.
Adulterated by sugar, Lotus tastes a little sweeter and the sour aftertaste is cut in half. I did not have any milk on hand to test that.
As for the second cup experiment, without sugar it, the tea tasted bland and like about two Lipton bags, still very much a tea flavor. There was no aftertaste, though. Any hint of the green tea elements is eliminated from the second steeping. When sugar was added to it, the sugar overwhelmed the tea flavor.
There is nothing wrong with the taste of this tea, but there is also nothing to recommend it. It's bland, ultimately best described as "tea" and offers nothing exciting as far as taste or refreshment for the drinker.
The ingredients to Lotus tea are rather simple: Naturally decaffeinated green tea, natural lotus flower flavor and other natural flavors. I wonder if the secret natural flavors are what make this tea taste like tea! One assumes, though, there is nothing sinister hiding in this tea and that is refreshing for tea drinkers like me.
In terms of nutrition, this tea is devoid of 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, which I recommend), no fat, sodium, or protein and no caffeine. One should not attempt to live on Tazo Lotus alone! Lotus is Kosher for those who keep Kosher.
Because of the various layers of packaging, Lotus appears to stay fresh for quite some time. So long as it is kept dry, this tea has a decent shelf life. As far as cleaning up, one need only rinse out the steeping pot or mug to prevent it from staining. The tea bags may be tossed easily enough. For those - like me - who compost their old tea bags, it is important to remove the staple and string with the little paper tab before composting this. That's an annoying extra step, especially after a year of Celestial Seasonings teas!
As for the tea itself, this is a surprisingly dark tea for a green tea and I would recommend cleaning up any spills on lighter fabrics as soon after they happen as possible. This does look like it might stain doilies!
"Meh." I went into this with no expectations and all I found was a tea flavored tea that did nothing to perk me up or relax me, either on the first cup or the fairly-strong second cup. I don't know who would like this, people who like strong, but indistinct tea? The black tea flavor is strong, but this lacks the subtlety most people like from a green tea; that flavor is sublimated in the first cup. Those going in looking for a green tea experience are likely to find this too bold, those looking for flavor are likely to be disappointed by the generic quality of this tea.
There are better teas out there; believe me, I've tried a slew!
For other tea reviews, please check out:
Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer
Twinings Earl Grey
Bigelow Vanilla Chai
For other food or drink reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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