The Good: Developed using fair trade standards.
The Bad: Virtually tasteless, Expensive, Lousy environmental impact, Sour/dry aftertaste
The Basics: Celestial Seasonings's Saphara line goes 0 for 2 with White Tea With Schinzandra flavor, a white, flavorless tea not worth stocking up on . . . or trying.
I doubt there are many people who will vocally disagree with me when I write that one of the only things worse than a bad product is paying a lot for it. Sadly, last year when I went to the Celestial Seasonings factory to stock up on tea for the year, I decided to go with - supposedly - quality over quantity and I purchased teas from Celestial Seasonings's fancier Saphara line. I was dismayed when I discovered the Premier Estate Assam (click here for that review!) was not an incredible tea at all and that the Saphara line had a terrible environmental impact, which is uncharacteristic for Celestial Seasonings. But when I opened the Saphara White Tea with Schizandra, I already had braced myself for the worst.
The reason for my bracing came from experience. White teas, which I stocked up on two years ago, proved themselves to be underwhelming in the taste department. So the Saphara version of white tea did not offer any real promise just because it included exotic Schizandra berries. Fortunately, having experience sometimes prepares us for the worst case scenario and in this case, I was quite glad I did not get my hopes up. Saphara White Tea with Schizandra is bland, with a sour and dry aftertaste and it is utterly unworth the time, attention or money of those looking for a tea experience worth sharing.
White Tea with Schizandra is an organic white tea from Celestial Seasonings's Saphara line, which is "organic fair trade certified." This white tea is entirely natural and organic and for those wondering, white teas are made from fresh tea buds, before they age or dry and the resulting tea is supposed to be more mild. Unfortunately, Saphara White Tea with Schizandra takes this to an extreme and this is an almost tasteless tea. Like the other Saphara teas, the consumer appears to mostly paying for their principles with this box.
White Tea with Schizandra comes with Saphara's standard pyramid-shaped tea bags. Each pyramid-shaped tea bag is made of biodegradable materials (I'm guessing bamboo) and unlike other Celestial Seasonings products, the Saphara tea pyramids come with strings and little tags. Each box of tea has fifteen individually plastic-wrapped tea bags. On the plus side, because the tea pyramids allow the tea leaves to expand and offer more surface area for the tea to brew with, a single tea bag will make an entire pot of tea.
This listing is for the six-pack of White Tea with Schizandra boxes and that is a further environmental travesty as it is simply six boxes of the tea cellophaned together. For those who insist on trying this awful tea, I'd advise starting with a smaller quantity of it.
Ease Of Preparation
White Tea with Schizandra is your standard white tea as far as the preparation goes. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea and could be reused and make a second cup of this tea, though considering how little the one tea bag makes - as far as a flavorful cup of tea - it makes little sense to try reusing the tea bag. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and two tea bags makes a pot of tea as strong as this gets and may be used to make a pointlessly weak second batch.
To prepare White Tea with Schizandra black tea, bring a pot of water to a point just below a boil and pour it over the tea bags. Filtered water should not be boiling as this will cook the tea leaves, as opposed to brew the flavor out of them. This tea takes three to five minutes to steep and when the water is below boiling, and it needs at least the full five minutes to approach anything resembling flavor. After five minutes, the flavor does not concentrate any more so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that.
To its credit, the Saphara White Tea with Schizandra has a good scent. In fact, I suspect the rest of mine might end up being used as potpourri instead of tea! The scent is spicy (like cinnamon) and slightly floral, like a hint of lilacs. This prepares the consumer for a taste that will be flavorful and intriguing.
It also sets the consumer up for absolute disappointment. The White Tea with Schizandra is arguably one of the most bland teas I have ever consumed. The scent seems to be the only intriguing aspect of it and even brewing it by the cup, the best I got was a well-scented cup of water. Yes, after three pots and two scientifically-calibrated cups, the best I can say about White Tea with Schizandra is that it is lightly flavored water. What does "lightly flavored" mean? Well, it smells. And it leaves an aftertaste that starts dry (3 - 15 seconds) and then becomes sour (16+ seconds). This Saphara tea tastes like water . . . with a dry aftertaste. That's it.
If this seems remarkably unsatisfying to read, you've correctly nailed just how unsatisfying the beverage is to drink. The problem with a water-flavored tea is that when something tastes like water, there's not much more one may do to describe it and sadly, that is where we are left with the Saphara White Tea with Schizandra. Whatever a Schizandra berry is, it might as well be watermelon with a dry and sour aftertaste! This is not at all a thirst-quenching tea and it is remarkably unsatisfying to drink.
With a teaspoon of sugar, Saphara White Tea with Schizandra becomes even dryer, though it no longer has the sour aftertaste. With a splash of milk, this tea is overwhelmed and tastes like milk. Cool, it tastes dry and the smell dissipates, so it's mostly like drinking oddly unrefreshing water.
This tea is a ridiculously weak white tea comprised primarily of organic white tea, organic schizandra berries, and organic orange peel. As with most Celestial Seasonings teas, there is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is 100% natural and organic. It does not appear to contain gluten and it is Kosher.
In terms of nutrition, I would not suggest trying to live on White Tea with Schizandra. In an 8 oz. mug, there are no calories, nor fat, nor sodium, nor carbs, nor protein. Any nutritional value would come from what you add to this. What the tea has is caffeine and this tea has 30 mg of caffeine per serving, but like the taste, this seems to be strangely absent as far as its effects.
White Tea with Schizandra is very 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 itself is a very light tea and it will not stain most fabrics. Consult a fabric guide if you get the brewed tea on a fabric.
Saphara seems to be a social experiment by Celestial Seasonings to drain wealthy people of their money on a tasteless product. The endgame is unclear, but White Tea with Schinzandra seems to be the "Emperor's New Clothes" test. Will wealthy people complain about a tea that tastes like nothing? Well, I'm poorer and I'll gladly stand to say this is a waste of money. Life is too short for teas like this!
For other teas by Celestial Seasonings, please check out my reviews of:
Zingers To Go Blueberry Splash
Vanilla Ginger Green Chai
Saphara Tropical Rooibos
For other Celestial Seasonings teas, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.