Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Celestial Seasonings Tries Its Hand At Mediocre Tea With "Golden Honey Darjeeling" Black Tea!

The Good: Nice aroma, Generally good taste (especially with sugar), Caffeinated
The Bad: Terrible cold, Does not taste like honey without sugar, Aftertaste kills it!
The Basics: Celestial Seasonings strikes out with their interpretation of Darjeeling tea when they add honey and keep the same horrid aftertaste most Darjeelings have.

When I review music and movies, occasionally I come down to a razor decision. This is usually in an average-rating review and the flip of a coin determines whether I recommend the product or not. I never truly anticipated being ambivalent about one of the teas I was reviewing, so I did not figure this would be an issue when I started my tea reviews. That was before I gave Celestial Seasonings Golden Honey Darjeeling 100% Natural Black Tea a sampling.

I have tried Darjeeling tea from other brands before and I will admit that it was never my favorite flavor. My love of Celestial Seasonings and the idea they had infused the tea with honey was enough for me to buy a box and brew it up. The result: I have a razor decision as I find myself fairly ambivalent to this tea.


Golden Honey Darjeeling is a 100% Natural Black Tea from Celestial Seasonings. This black tea is 100% natural and as such is fully caffeinated. This is a strong, heady tea and while it does taste like traditional Darjeeling tea, it is effectively infused with the scent and mild flavor of honey.

Golden Honey Darjeeling comes in Celestial Seasonings's standard stringless tea bags, which are paired together with easy to separate perforations that allow one to separate the tea bags. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and leave them connected. A box of Golden Honey Darjeeling comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.

Ease Of Preparation

Golden Honey Darjeeling is your standard black 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 with most of the flavor that the first cup yielded. The second cup, naturally, does not come out as strong as the first, but provided the first steeping was not more than the recommended upper recommended steeping time of five minutes, a second use can come out with about 3/4 strength. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well for both a first and second steeping.

To prepare Golden Honey Darjeeling black tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. Experience has taught me this tea brews best and to its most flavorful when the water is at a rolling boil, not just barely there. This is a tea that wants to be burned by the water to release its full flavor! This tea takes three to five minutes to steep and when the water is seriously boiling, it comes out strong at the three minute point without needing any additional time. After five minutes, though, the flavor does not concentrate any more so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that.


I can't remember a tea I dreaded so much the moment I would come to this section. And yet . . . Darjeeling tea is a strong, distinct black tea flavor characterized best by the strong primary taste of black tea and then a sour aftertaste as if one had been sucking on orange rinds for an hour. I've found it leaves my mouth dry and tasting sour. Golden Honey Darjeeling lives up to that pretty awful flavor but breaks it up by infusing a light, wonderful aroma and adding a faint sweetness to the primary taste. The result is a less bitter Darjeeling tea that is not a foul as some of the Darjeelings I've drunk in the past.

This tea is supposed to taste like honey and while it has a distinct honey aroma to it - especially when it's hot - it only has the most subtle flavor of honey to it. It's a hint of honey. I could have used more of the honey taste to this tea because while it tastes like honey, it isn't tasting much like the sour rind taste that Darjeelings almost always leave in my mouth. The aroma is right, but the taste is not quite there for the honey flavor.

That said, when the tea is piping hot, I add a heaping teaspoon of sugar to it and it's delicious. The honey flavor is accented and it comes alive wonderfully as a rich, flavorful tea. Even with sugar, it has the aftertaste. Adding milk does a little to dull the aftertaste, but that sour, rind-like taste comes through regardless.

Cold, the tea is absolutely foul. It is all aftertaste and no honey, no matter how much sugar is used. I am not sure why anyone would want this as an iced tea, but if you try it that way, I found no good came from it. It is unspeakably awful iced. It is so bad iced or cold that I'm surprised Celestial Seasonings would put the directions on how to make it iced in the box! And this is not just this Celestial Seasonings, I've found all Darjeeling teas I've tried so far have been acidic and gross cold. There's only so much tangy this tongue can take!


This tea is a very strong black tea comprised primarily of black tea, orange peel, and chamomile. The aroma of honey and the faint taste of it presumably comes from the dried honey at the bottom of the ingredient list. As with most Celestial Seasonings teas, there is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is 100% natural. It is gluten free, for those for whom that matters.

In terms of nutrition, I won't even joke about trying to live on Golden Honey Darjeeling, it would be torture to try. 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, a decent amount of it, too. It rates a 45 on the caffeine meter, meaning it has the same amount of caffeine as a regular cola and half the caffeine of a cup of coffee.


Golden Honey Darjeeling black 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 very dark tea and will stain most fabrics, so I tend to avoid drinking this one around anything that will easily stain.


Here's the cointoss . . . I'm opting with a "no" on the recommending. Here's why: in order to enjoy this tea at all, I had to have it incredibly hot, hotter than most people would be able to drink it at, and I had to add a significant amount of sugar. Between these two things, I realized that while it did bring out the honey flavor in it, it wasn't bringing it out all that much and I was more covering the tea flavor than enjoying it.

That being the case, this was a close call, but it falls to not being worth it unless you're one who already loves Darjeeling tea.

For other Celestial Seasoning tea reviews, please check out:
Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai
Linden Mint
India Spice Chai Decaf


For other beverage reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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