Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blackcurrant Hibiscus Saphara Tea Finally Lives Up To (Most Of) Celestial Seasonings's Standards!

The Good: Developed using fair trade standards, Tastes great
The Bad: Caffeine free, Expensive, Lousy environmental impact
The Basics: A delicious, but overpriced, Celestial Seasonings tea, Saphara Blackcurrant Hibiscus is a delicious tea for fancy occasions.

Every year for the past four years, I have stopped at the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder, Colorado on the way home from my annual trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. The Celestial Seasonings factory tour has the added benefit of ending in a gift shop with the least expensive retail outlet of Celestial Seasonings tea. This makes quite a bit of sense and the transport fees are not factored into the cost of the tea as transport is literally walking cases off of the factory floor some fifty feet away. Last year, I did not stock up on as many Celestial Seasonings teas as I usually do. Instead, I bought a few boxes of the premiere teas that Celestial Seasonings produces and distributes. The moderate savings of buying directly at the factory makes up for the otherwise outrageous expense of a box of tea that has fewer tea bags at over twice the expense of the standard boxes of Celestial Seasonings teas.

Up until tonight, these adventures in higher quality teas have left me disappointed. The Saphara flavors I have sampled so far have been huge letdowns. But tonight, I tried the Saphara Blackcurrant Hibiscus and I was a convert. Finally. Blackcurrant Hibiscus is a fruity Saphara tea and outside it being expensive, environmentally problematic and caffeine free, it's a perfect tea.


Blackcurrant Hibiscus is an organic herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings's Saphara line, which is "organic fair trade certified." This herbal tea is entirely natural and as an herbal tea, it does not actually include tea leaves; this is a fruit and rooibos-based tea. The Saphara Blackcurrant Hibiscus is fortunately flavorful and it has a rich taste that those who like herbal teas will enjoy quite a bit. Like the other Saphara teas, the consumer is paying for their principles with this box, but on this Saphara flavor consumers are not likely to feel cheated by the cost.

Blackcurrant Hibiscus comes with Saphara's standard pyramid-shaped tea bags. Each pyramid-shaped tea bag is made of biodegradable materials (perhaps 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. Despite the tea pyramids allowing the tea leaves to expand and offer more surface area for the tea to brew with, two tea bag are still needed to make an entire pot of tea. On the plus side, the two tea bags seem to make a second pot that it virtually identical in flavor to the original pot!

Ease Of Preparation

Blackcurrant Hibiscus is your standard 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 it will be about as strong the second cup or pot around. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and two tea bags makes a pot of tea.

To prepare Blackcurrant Hibiscus black tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. Filtered water should be boiling to brew the flavor out of the tea pyramids. This tea takes three to five minutes to steep and when the water is below boiling, and it needs at the full five minute, the flavor is full and delicious. I've noticed no significant difference in flavor after the five minute mark, but with the second pot, it needs the full five minutes to be fully flavored.


The Saphara Blackcurrant Hibiscus has an amazing scent. This tea smells like black cherries and something vaguely floral. That would be the hibiscus.

The Blackcurrant Hibiscus is a fruity herbal tea. This tea tastes like cherries and grapes. The fruit taste endures sip to sip and it does not have a dry aftertaste at all, like most of the cherry teas I've tasted possess. Instead, this is a remarkably sweet and fruity taste without any drawbacks.

With a teaspoon of sugar, Saphara Blackcurrant Hibiscus is even sweeter and the best analogy is that this tea becomes like a kid's juice that is heated up. This tastes like a hot Juicy Juice if one over-sugars it and my partner and I agree that it is better without sugar. Because of the presence of orange peel, which usually makes milk curdle when in tea, I did not experiment with adding milk to this tea. Cool, the Blackcurrant Hibiscus is still sweet, but it does pick up a faint dryness that is characteristic of many fruit-based herbal teas.


This tea is a strong, fruity herbal tea comprised primarily of organic hibiscus flowers, organic orange peel, and organic rooibos. 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 Blackcurrant Hibiscus. 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 has no caffeine because none of the ingredients have caffeine.


Blackcurrant Hibiscus 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 dark purple tea and it will stain most fabrics. Consult a fabric guide if you get the brewed tea on a fabric, but I suspect getting to the stain quickly will be important.


Finally, a Saphara tea impresses me with being worth drinking! The Blackcurrant Hibiscus is fruity and delicious and if only it had caffeine, the regular Celestial Seasonings tea bags, and was half the price, it would be perfect!

For other teas by Celestial Seasonings, please check out my reviews of:
Fast Lane
True Blueberry
India Spice Chai


For other beverage reviews, please click here to visit my index page!

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

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