Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Sleepytime:" A Disappointing Flagship Tea For Celestial Seasonings

The Good: Intriguing aroma, Taste is all right (hot or cold), Nothing bad in it.
The Bad: Caffeine Free, Weak, Surprisingly bland
The Basics: A popular staple tea, Sleepytime appeals to those who like their tea weak, yet flavorful; a tough tea to get excited about.

When going to Boulder, Colorado for the Celestial Seasonings factory tour and gift shop, there are several iconic images associated with the factory that help guide one. Actually, there is only one iconic image for Celestial Seasonings: the bear. The Sleepytime bear which adorns the boxes of Sleepytime Tea is the most recognizable symbol of Celestial Seasonings, more than any other piece of artwork on any other box of their teas. It is the image for the company.

And wow, it is a testament to how Americans will ignore the product that that icon is one that successfully associates good taste with Celestial Seasonings.

Sleepytime is one of the staple teas made by Celestial Seasonings and they promote it as one of their flagship flavors. Truth be told, I've not seen any other tea companies give such priority to their chamomile tea, so it's quite possible Celestial Seasonings is the acknowledged champion of chamomile herb teas. The thing about Sleepytime tea is that it is weak. It is a decent tasting tea, but it is weak and I like my teas flavorful.


Sleepytime is an all-natural Herb Tea from Celestial Seasonings. This Herb tea is 100% natural and as a result is caffeine free - none of the ingredients in it had caffeine to begin with so it did not undergo any chemical process to remove them. Chamomile is a wildflower and its use as a tea is interesting, but yields a tea reminiscent of dandelion juice. Sleepytime beefs up the usual chamomile flavor, but strangely it has the opposite effect than one would expect.

Sleepytime comes in Celestial Seasoning'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 Sleepytime tea comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.

Ease Of Preparation

Sleepytime is a very standard tea; it is your basic herbal tea when it comes to preparation. Like many other Celestial Seasonings teas, there are no tea leaves listed in the ingredients, so this herbal tea flower-based. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea and could be reused and make a second, rather weak cup of Sleepytime tea. The second cup often comes out about as far weaker than the first, which is a serious detraction given how weak it is to begin with. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though a second pot with the same bags will come out about 3/8 strength. In other words, this is a terrible tea for the teabag miser!

To prepare Sleepytime tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags, in a pot or mug. This tea takes four to six minutes to steep according to the directions and if the water is truly boiling, I've found it still can use the entire six minutes. Actually, this is a tea that I can never make strong enough. After six minutes, the flavor does not seem to get any stronger so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that. Sleepytime never gets "too strong."


This is Celestial Seasonings flagship tea and it is hard to see why. The best way to describe Sleepytime Tea is this; it smells like ricewater and it tastes like it, too. From the moment one pours boiling water on the tea bags, the scent of rice will diffuse through the kitchen/dining space. The Sleepytime tea has a surprisingly strong aroma given how weak the tea is. Essentially, Sleepytime is Celestial Seasonings' Chamomile tea (reviewed here!) with a few extra ingredients.

As a result, the tea tastes like rice but with a little bit of something else in it. Sleepytime is rice water with a twist of lemon. There's no better way to describe it. If you like rice and lemon and like tea, Sleepytime is for you! It's not a strong flavor, it's not something delicious beyond all compare, but it is all right.

To give one an idea on the lack of flavor, adding anything to Sleepytime tea overwhelms it. Adding sugar takes any bite out of the lemon flavor and sweetens the tea. Sugar tends to overwhelm the flavor of the rice and lemon. The same thing with honey. Even milk overwhelms the chamomile flavor of the tea. This is a very subtle flavor of tea and not likely to wow those who enjoy lots of flavorful teas.

Cold, the tea is just as good, though there is no additional flavor that comes more evident when it is cold. It's still bland, even with sugar.


Like what one might expect from a tea that smells and tastes like rice water, this tea is pretty low on the scale of nutritional value. That's not to say it is bad for the drinker, it just does not have much to recommend it. This tea is primarily made of: Chamomile, spearmint, and lemon grass. It surprised me to read there was mint in this tea, as it does not have even a hint of that in the taste. There is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is noted as being gluten free (for whom that matters).

In terms of nutrition, Chamomile is another tea in a long line of teas that contribute nothing but hydration to the body. There is no nutritional benefit or detriment to this tea. One 8 oz. mug of this tea provides nothing of nutritional value to the drinker. There are no calories (save what one adds from sugar or milk), no fat, sodium, or protein and no caffeine. This is more a flavored water than a tea!


Sleepytime 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 bit darker than the Chamomile tea, so it is likely to stain light-colored fabrics if it has been well brewed!


Bland. Sleepytime is a good tea, but it is bland. Despite the added ingredients, it does not have any real flavor more than the straight out Chamomile, so this becomes redundant. It's a shock that Celestial Seasonings could build such a wonderful culinary empire on the back of something so flavorless.

For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
English Toffee
Goji Pomegranate Green
Organic Sweet Clementine


For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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