Monday, October 18, 2010

Red Without The Rich Flavor: Tropical Rooibos Is Another Overpriced Saphara Teas Blend.

The Good: Great ingredients, Doesn't taste bad
The Bad: Doesn't taste like much of anything, Environmentally irresponsible packaging, Caffeine free.
The Basics: A disappointingly bland red tea, Saphara Tropical Rooibos is a lightly flavored tea at an inflated price.

My annual trip to Boulder, Colorado's Celestial Seasonings' factory is retroactively turning into a real disappointment. Last year was the first year my wife and I went together and that was a huge treat. But when it came time to buy our year's supply of tea I made two decisions: first, I gave some of my allotted cash to her to pick some flavors of tea she wanted and second, I decided to try the upscale high-quality tea line as opposed to the regular Celestial Seasonings products.

The upscale line is called Saphara and with their Tropical Rooibos tea, I find myself feeling exploited once again. I was not as wild about the Saphara Ginger Green Mango tea (reviewed here!) as I hoped I would be, but I came to the Tropical Rooibos pretty unbiased. If I am paying more for a tea, I do not want it to be more mild than other teas; I want something flavorful. Unfortunately, the Tropical Rooibos – which I was initially excited about because my box of fifteen tea bags actually had sixteen bags! – is depressingly mild, making it easy for me to not recommend.


Tropical Rooibos Tea is an organic red tea from Celestial Seasonings's Saphara line, which is "organic fair trade certified." This red tea – which is what rooibos-based teas are called - is entirely natural and organic. Unfortunately, Saphara Tropical Rooibos Tea seems to be so mild that even the usual red tea flavor does not cut through the taste of boiled water. Like the other Saphara teas, the consumer appears to mostly paying for their principles with this box.

Tropical Rooibos Tea 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 (or, if you’re lucky, sixteen!) 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 pair of tea bags will make an entire pot of tea.

Ease Of Preparation

Tropical Rooibos Tea is your standard red 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, and the second brewing is not bad. The second cup is likely to come out about ¾ as strong as the first brewing. 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 fair second batch.

To prepare Tropical Rooibos Tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. Filtered water should be boiling as this will brew the flavor out of the rooibos leaves. This tea takes three to five minutes to steep and when the water is at boiling, and it gets to full concentration in about three minutes with only moderately stronger results at the five minute mark. After five minutes, the flavor does not concentrate any more so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that.


The Saphara Tropical Rooibos Tea is one of the few Celestial Seasonings teas I can recall consuming that had almost no scent at all. In fact, what aroma there is to this tea is so faint that it defies explanation. The mugs I have drunk have been steaming, but the steam does not smell like anything other than steam.

Unlike many red teas, which are rich and almost grainy in their flavor, Tropical Rooibos is almost tasteless. What taste there is in the tea is best described as slightly dry before yielding to a sour – citrus – aftertaste. Tropical Rooibos is a very bland tea and the flavor ends there. It is more aftertaste than taste and the result is surprisingly lackluster for those who love tea.

With a teaspoon of sugar, Saphara Tropical Rooibos Tea is only slightly sweeter than the mug of tea without sugar. The aftertaste is a little less tart with sugar, but the slight citrus taste remains present regardless. Because of the somewhat citrus flavor and ingredients to this tea, I’ve opted not to risk milk curdling by adding it for culinary experimentation. Cool, this becomes an exceptionally dry tea and the aftertaste is sour to a greater magnitude than when it is hot.


This mediocre red tea is comprised primarily of organic rooibos, organic West Indian lemongrass, and organic orange peels. As with most Celestial Seasonings teas, there is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is 100% natural and organic. It is not noted to be gluten free, but it is Kosher. And consumers with allergies are warned that this does contain coconut.

In terms of nutrition, I would not suggest trying to live on Tropical Rooibos Tea. 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. As well, this tea is naturally caffeine free because none of the component ingredients have caffeine in them.


Tropical Rooibos Tea 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 fairly dark red tea and it will stain most fabrics. Consult a fabric guide if you get the brewed tea on a fabric.


The Tropical Rooibos Tea tastes fine, but is too close to flavorless to be truly worth bothering with. Consumers deserve something more flavorful when they are spending this kind of money on a tea.

For other teas by Celestial Seasonings, please check out my reviews of:
Morning Thunder
Black Cherry Berry


For other beverage reviews, please visit my index page!

© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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