Monday, December 27, 2010

Very Average, Weaker Than I'd Like: Bigelow's 100% Ceylon Tea Underwhelms.

The Good: Caffeinated, Good ingredient
The Bad: Bland, mild taste, Extraneous packaging
The Basics: Average to the point of boring, 100% Ceylon tea from Bigelow disappoints.

It seems this is a time when I am finding myself surrounded by a lot of tea-flavored teas and several that are in no way superlative. In the case of Bigelow's 100% Ceylon tea, my sense of being entirely underwhelmed by the taste is not surprising. Ceylon, which is a blend based entirely on where the tea leaves are from, is intended to be a very basic, inoffensive black tea and it succeeds at that in that it is bland and flavored only like tea. But even for those looking for something robust from a tea will find the 100% Ceylon a bit watery for their tastes.


100% Ceylon is a tea from Bigelow. It is a tea that has caffeine and it is one of the weaker black teas Bigelow makes and markets. 100% Ceylon comes in Bigelow's standard individually-wrapped tea bags, means that each tea bag has a wax papery envelope it is sealed in for freshness. Each tea bag has a five-inch string with a little paper tab at the end, which is quite a bit more waste than I like from a tea bag. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and making a steeping pot of 100% Ceylon reminds me of why I like the easy environmentalism of Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags. A box of 100% Ceylon comes with 20 individually-wrapped tea bags.

100% Ceylon is marketed as a tea-flavored tea and it is adequate in that regard . . . barely. If one wants something that is flavored like tea leaves this will more or less fit the bill. I tend to like flavorful teas, not the bland ones that are simply what they claim to be.

Ease Of Preparation

100% Ceylon is a black tea, which means preparation is as easy as boiling a pot of water! 100% Ceylon, as the directions clearly state, require water that is boiling. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea, though reusing the tea bags yields little more than hot water. These tea bags can be reused and the resulting beverage is about 1/2 strength and has a more potent dry aftertaste than the original brewing. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, even for a second pot.

To prepare 100% Ceylon, simply boil up some water, and pour it over the tea bags in a cup, mug or steeping pot. This tea is recommended to take one to two minutes to steep and after a couple cups and pots, I've found that with boiling water, the tea is ready at the two minute mark and letting it steep longer does not truly change the results. Letting the tea steep more than three minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.


100% Ceylon is a tea that tastes like what it is. Unlike most flavors that either have a taste or scent that tries to be something else, 100% Ceylon is a tea flavored tea. Like black coffee when it goes by the location (Columbian, Supreme, etc.) that tells one nothing about the actual flavor, 100% Ceylon is an adjective tea whose name does not exactly describe the taste sensation that it is.

For those wondering, though, 100% Ceylon from Bigelow is a tea that smells woody and tea-like. It smells like a Chinese restaurant at closing, when concentrated amounts of green tea are being dumped down a sink. It is not the strongest scent for a tea, which bodes poorly - but accurately - for the taste.

As for the taste, this has a rather dull and woody taste, like chewing on dried herbs or weeds. This has a diluted tea flavor that is stronger than most green teas, but weaker than many black teas. If English Teatime by Bigelow was 4/5 the strength of Earl Grey, 100% Ceylon would be the next rung down at about three-fifths the flavor strength of Earl Grey. I put this at right around the strength of Lipton's bland, regular tea. This is a tea that lacks the aroma and energy of other black teas, but at least has some substance and flavor to it. This is truly tea flavored tea and the only real taste note might well be that it has a very dry aftertaste. Fortunately, that aftertaste is as mild as the tea; it starts out without any real strength and ends there.

With a teaspoon of sugar, 100% Ceylon maintains its dry taste as the primary taste and does not becomes sufficiently sweet to suggest it is anything other than tea. Strangely, my cups of Bigelow 100% Ceylon have ended up accenting the taste of water in the tea when the tea has sugar added to it, diluting the sense of the tea flavor some. The aftertaste, somewhat dry, was essentially as strong as it was before the addition of sugar to the tea.

Similarly, milk does little for the tea, save overwhelm the tea flavor. It dilutes it to the point that it tastes more like flavored milk than flavored tea. As the tea becomes cooler, it continues to taste drier, becoming more and more sour as well. This is not an ideal tea to have iced, unless one likes cool, dry and sour for their beverage choices.


It is utterly unsurprising that the dominant flavor in 100% Ceylon is tea as the only ingredient is black tea. 100% Ceylon tea is all natural, gluten free, and does contain caffeine. There is not a ton of caffeine (the box does not say how much there actually is in this, but it does seem like it is sufficient to keep one awake, especially when drunk late at night).

Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of 100% Ceylon, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein.


100% Ceylon is a medium to fairly light black tea. As a result, cleanup is rather simple, save on fabrics. The mugs and steeping pot easily rinse out. This tea will stain if it is left on fabrics, so simply do not let the tea cups or mugs linger on light colored materials that might stain!

100% Ceylon is 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. One of the nice things about this tea - like most - is that so long as it is kept cool and dry, it can last for a long time and it is easy to clean up. However, like all Bigelow teas, there is extra waste from the strings, paper tabs and individual wrappings around each bag.


100% Ceylon is too bland to be worth the time of anyone looking to drink a black tea. If you want bland, go for a green tea; at least then you don't have to worry about kidney stones!

For other Bigelow tea reviews of mine, please check out:
Perfect Peach
Ginger Snappish
White Chocolate Kisses


For other food and drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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

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