Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Black Cherry Berry" Celestial Seasonings's Truly Cherry Fruit Tea Is A Taste Event!

The Good: Tastes just like what it is supposed to, Nothing bad or unpronouncable in it
The Bad: No Caffeine! Sour berry undertaste
The Basics: A good tea that actually tastes like black cherries, Black Cherry Berry is prevented from being truly delicious by the blackberries in it.

Tea is something I take real solace in both enjoying for the taste and reviewing. There is something relaxing about ruminating on a pot of tea, stimulating about describing it and invigorating about arguing the merits and detractions of it. When I first encountered Celestial Seasonings Black Cherry Berry Herb Tea, I was working a hellish job and to be able to brew up a pot, sit and savor it and then review the tea was a real comfort to me. I'm glad to not be working twelve hour days at something I loathe anymore.

Writing and sipping on tea . . . that's my cup of tea. And today, that tea is Black Cherry Berry.


Black Cherry Berry is an herb tea from Celestial Seasonings. The dominant flavor is intended to be black cherries and while the painting on the box insinuates that the "berry" is supposed to be raspberries, only blackberries appear in the ingredients. This tea is an herb tea and thus is naturally caffeine free as none of the ingredients naturally occurs with caffeine in them.

Black Cherry Berry comes in Celestial Seasonings standard stringless tea bags, which are attached in pairs. There are twenty tea bags to a box of tea and they come in the usual box with a a painting and clever slogans on it.

Ease of Preparation
Preparation of Black Cherry Berry is, as they say, not rocket science. Most people prepare their tea by the cup or in a steeping pot. I use a 32 oz. steeping pot which is easily one of the best investments I have ever made, especially since I was inundated with thirty-five boxes of tea this past August! Preparation is as simple as boiling a pot of water and pouring it over the tea bag(s) while they are in the vessel of your choice. I use two tea bags in the steeping pot and that makes for a full, rich brewing of Black Cherry Berry.

Once the boiling water is poured on the tea bags, wait four to six minutes and the tea is ready! I've discovered that with actually boiling water, the Black Cherry Berry is ready in four minutes and additional steeping time does not make it any stronger. I've also discovered that once the bags have been in the boiling water for six minutes, they are pretty much done with; they cannot be reused to make another pot of tea. At four minutes, if the bags are extracted, another pot of tea may be made that is about 3/4 strong, but this tea seems to burn out with the duration of brewing.


Well, Celestial Seasonings created a winner with this one . . . sort of. Celestial Seasonings has a way of undermining itself and Black Cherry Berry is a wonderful example of that. The black cherry half of the tea is wonderful and had the company stuck with that, this would have been a clear, high rated tea with a strong recommend. The problem is the berry component.

The aroma is very strong when the tea is steaming hot and it smells like a black cherry tart fresh out of the oven! This sets the person drinking the tea up for a very realistic impression of what is coming when they begin sipping the tea.

Without sugar, Black Cherry Berry rolls over the tongue with the vaguely sweet, dry taste that cherry lovers will recognize as the flavor of black cherries. It is distinctive, true to flavor and delicious. Anyone who is looking for a hot cherry beverage will be impressed with this tea. It lives up to its flavor and the cherry is true to being black cherry, which is what I look for whenever I review a fruit tea.

The problem is, as the flavor lingers on the tongue, it becomes corrupted by the berry nature of the beverage. The blackberries provide a sour kick that is true to (strangely) the worst elements of raspberries. Yes, the blackberries provide a sour raspberry aftertaste to the tea and it becomes quite vile, the longer one lets it linger. And the undertaste of the berries is just awful in a way that I am at a loss to describe but that "awful" is surprisingly precise for!

There is a solution, which is sugar. The box recommends honey, but given that my bee population took the day off, I'm relying on sugar to sweeten and this does two things. First, even half a teaspoon of sugar in a mug full of Black Cherry Berry effectively cuts the sour right out. No sour undertaste, no sour aftertaste. Sugar does the trick perfectly here! But sugar also enhances the black cherry flavor, making drink seem more like a dessert at a fancy restaurant which involves black cherries and a liquor. Or some sort of black cherry glaze being drizzled over cheesecake. It is that type of sweetness and richness of black cherry flavor that the tea embodies with even just a little bit of sugar.

I highly recommend avoiding this tea when cold as it is another in a long line of fruit teas that becomes quite sour when unsweetened and chilled. The result when cold is the antithesis of adding sugar; it becomes all sour berry and no delightful black cherry.

Having not had luck with fruit teas and milk of late, I did not try adding any milk to this tea. I think it is something regarding either citrus or berries, but it was enough to make me avoid trying this with milk.


There is nothing nutritious about this tea. Fortunately, there is nothing unhealthy about Black Cherry Berry either. Tea, despite what we hoity toity tea drinkers might like to believe, is essentially flavored water. Very little of nutritional value carries through with that and as a result, this tea has no calories, no fat, no sodium, no carbohydrates, no protein and no caffeine. It is not recommended that one attempt to live off of Black Cherry Berry or any other tea.

Strangely, and this is the first time I think I'm addressing this in my many tea reviews, this lack of nutrition is limited to the brewed tea. One assumes that if one were to eat the contents of a tea bag there would be some nutritional value, but what that is is unknown to me. And please, do not eat the contents of tea bags.


Storage is simple: keep the tea bags in their box with the wax paper bag that surrounds them folded close. Store them in a cool dry place and they will last quite a while with a wonderful ability to release the Black Cherry Berry flavor when needed. Clean-up is equally simple: toss the tea bags (or compost them!) and rinse out your mug and/or steeping pot.

Black Cherry Berry is not a very dark tea (not as red as one might anticipate, either!) and as a result, it does not seem like it stains fabrics all that much and as a result, cleaning it up is a matter of wiping off a surface if the tea spills on it.


Black Cherry Berry is a good tea, undermined by the berries, which keep it from greatness. This tea ought not to be drunk by anyone not prepared to sweeten it and if you're too British for that, avoid it! But for American tea drinkers who add sugar to everything - honestly, I just finished making corn muffins and I topped them with sugar because the batter tasted kind of sour! - this is a good tea that lives up to its promise of being a black cherry tea that will make for a delightful dessert, if not a pick-me-up.

For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
Lemon Zinger
Candy Cane Lane
Tropic Of Strawberry


For other beverage reviews, please visit my index page!

© 2010, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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