The Good: Decent ingredients, Good taste
The Bad: Caffeine free, Additional tea bag garbage
The Basics: With twenty tea bags, Mint Medley is surprisingly good herbal tea from Bigelow and one of the few that it is easy to enjoy!
Those who follow my many reviews of teas know that I have been searching, for quite some time, for a truly wonderful caffeinated mint tea. This seems to put me in a real bind; mint teas are naturally not caffeinated and most tea companies that make tea do not attempt to blend the herbal mint leaves with tea leaves to try to create a perfect combination of mint and tea. To date, the closest I have come in seeing my quest to a successful resolution has been in Celestial Seasonings' Mint Magic (reviewed here!). That is unlikely to surprise many of my readers, as I am quite loyal to that brand. What might surprise some of those readers is that I decided to step outside my favorite brand to see what the minty competition is elsewhere.
That led me to Bigelow, largely because I was given a box of the tea bags around the holidays. Their tea flavor I found was Mint Medley. Mint Medley, like Mint Magic, is naturally caffeine free and set side by side, I find I still prefer the Mint Magic between the taste and the less waste (environmental responsibility is a huge thing for me!). That said, Mint Magic holds its own on the merits, making for a decent tea and I am not hating savoring the rest of this box of tea.
Mint Medley is an herbal tea from Bigelow. It is a tea that is naturally caffeine free and it is one of the stronger herbal teas Bigelow makes, that I have tried. Mint Medley comes in Bigelow's standard individually-wrapped tea bags, means that each tea bag has a wax papery envelope it is sealed in for freshness. Each tea bag has a five-inch string with a little paper tab at the end, which is quite a bit more waste than I like from a tea bag. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and making a steeping pot of Mint Medley reminds me of why I like the easy environmentalism of Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags. A box of Mint Medley comes with 20 individually-wrapped tea bags.
Mint Medley is marketed as a mint-flavored tea and in that regard it lives up quite well. If one wants something that is flavored like mint this will satisfy.
Ease Of Preparation
Mint Medley is an herbal tea, which means preparation is as easy as boiling a pot of water! A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea, though reusing the tea bags yields a barely minty beverage. These tea bags can be reused and the resulting beverage is about 5/8 strength and has a more potent menthol aftertaste than the original brewing. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, even for a second pot.
To prepare Mint Medley, simply boil 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 after a couple cups and pots, I've found that with boiling water, the tea is ready at the three minute mark and letting it steep longer does not truly change the results. Letting the tea steep more than five minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.
Mint Medley is a potent blend of peppermint and spearmint and the initial scent is beautifully, richly of both of those herbs. The scent permeates the room where the pot of tea is brewing and it fills air with a strong, cool minty scent. The blend of peppermint and spearmint seems to be about equal and the aroma is a rich combination of both scents without either dominating.
This is precisely how it tastes as well. The mint flavoring is a mix and both the peppermint and spearmint are present and full. The mint's menthol is enough to open up the sinuses and widen one's eyes. This is a good, minty tea that lives up to its name quite adequately: it is the perfect mixing of spearmint and peppermint and despite the act that there are other ingredients in the tea, the flavor of the two primary mints overwhelms everything else in this!
With a teaspoon of sugar, the tea takes on a greater sense of body in the taste. The taste - in all defiance of logic - seems to become more woody and slightly less minty, but the aftertaste kicks up. It is an odd thing; one might think that it might taste more like a peppermint candy with sugar, but that is not the case. Instead, it comes out tasting more like mint and tea than a hot mint beverage.
Milk is overwhelmed by the mint flavor and cold, Mint Medley just tastes like cold menthol. This is definitely a tea meant to be served and drunk hot!
It is utterly unsurprising that the dominant flavor in Mint Medley is tea as the main ingredients are peppermint leaves, spearmint leaves and rose hips. Mint Medley tea is all natural, kosher and does not contain caffeine. Still, the taste is forceful enough to wake a drinker right up!
Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of Mint Medley, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein.
Mint Medley is a fairly light tea. As a result, cleanup is rather simple, save on fabrics. The mugs and steeping pot easily rinse out, but the steeping pot ought to be rinsed fully after the tea is gone as the mint flavor will linger in a steeping pot to corrupt the next pot, if it is unrinsed. This tea will stain if it is left on fabrics, so simply do not let the tea cups or mugs linger on light colored materials that might stain!
Mint Medley 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. However, like all Bigelow teas, there is extra waste from the strings, paper tabs and individual wrappings around each bag.
Mint Medley is a pretty wonderful mint tea and one of the few Bigelow teas I will drink again if it is offered to me, even with its lack of caffeine and extra waste!
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© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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