The Good: Tastes good, Wonderful aroma, umm ... trendy? Yummy!
The Bad: Doesn't quite taste like coconut, Decaffeinated.
The Basics: With its strong and sweet flavor, Sweet Coconut Thai overcomes its failure to taste like coconut by accenting a yummy chai flavor that is worth the buy!
It has been said about me that I do not appreciate "fun" quite so much, that my objective way of looking at things sets everything on a scale so strict that things that are purely and simply enjoyable get lost by the wayside. To some extent, that is true; I rate National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (reviewed here!) on the same ten point scale as I praise Brazil (reviewed here!). The mindless gets compared to the intense and I have a continuum. Never one to simply concede that I am dull or so opinionated as to not actually enjoy anything in life for the purpose of simple enjoyment, I set out to find something to review that would illustrate that there are things I enjoy simply because I enjoy them.
That is when I came across the three boxes of Sweet Coconut Thai tea in my cupboard. On my summer trip to Celestial Seasonings in Colorado, I picked up thirty-five boxes of tea, three of which were Sweet Coconut Thai. Objectively, this tea should suffer some in my rating system, much like the Gingerbread Spice tea did. But the truth is, I like this tea and I stocked up on it given the opportunity and I DO recommend it to friends. It's a simple pleasure in my life and hopefully it shall become one in yours!
Sweet Coconut Thai is a 100% Natural Chai Tea from Celestial Seasonings in their Teahouse Chai line. This Chai tea is 100% natural and has been naturally decaffeinated, though I'm unsure how that process was achieved. It is advertised as "naturally decaffeinated," so one assumes some government agency is on top of it insuring this claim is true. This is a wonderful tea and whenever I am at home and have a hankering for Chai tea drinks - like I have when I go out to Panera Bread - this is the tea I turn to 90% of the time. It has a similar sweetness as the chai drinks that have become so trendy in cafes in the United States in the last four years (when I was in college, it was all ginseng, now it's chai!).
Sweet Coconut Thai 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 Sweet Coconut Thai comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.
Ease Of Preparation
Sweet Coconut Thai 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 Sweet Coconut Thai with a decent amount of flavor. 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 six minutes, a second use can come out with about 5/8 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 Sweet Coconut Thai tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. The directions recommend that the cup be only 3/4 full so that milk may be added later, but that's only necessary if one wishes to make this beverage into a drink like one gets in restaurants. I brew mine at full strength in the pot and decide about alterations when I pour into my mug! This tea takes four to six minutes to steep and when the water is actually boiling, it comes out strong at the four minute point without needing any additional time. After six minutes, though, the flavor does not concentrate any more so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that.
Sweet Coconut Thai is quite possibly the only tea I will recommend without it tasting like what it claims to. That's not entirely true, by the way, because of the three flavors in the tea's name, it lives up to one, fails on the other and is a draw for the third. To be fair, I don't know what a Thai tastes like, but I do love Thai food and this falls within the general sphere of flavors of that style of cuisine. To be more succinct, though; Sweet Coconut Thai is sweet, but tastes nothing at all like coconut.
I used to live with someone who was obsessed with coconuts. She loved the flavor, she loved the scent; we had coconut scented candles around the house and they were the ones she was most likely to burn! She used coconut milk in various recipes and she loved Thai food because it gave her an excuse to use coconut milk! Sweet Coconut Thai does not taste, nor smell, like coconut. At all. Not one whiff. Nope, no coconuts here! There is not even the aftertaste of coconuts.
Instead, Sweet Coconut Thai smells like cloves and Chai tea. It has a delicious and mysterious scent that is further accented by cinnamon and ginger; if Celestial Seasonings were to make incense, this would be one of their flagship scents and I would but it by the case! The aroma is incredible.
And the taste . . . . the taste is sweet and thai-riffic! (What, I can't pun? Yea, I hate puns, too, but you know what, this is an impossible description for taste because you know what this tea tastes like? Nothing else I've ever eaten or drunk.) Sweet Coconut Thai has the sweet down pat; it tastes sweet even without sugar. Beyond that, it tastes like a delicious combination of cinnamon, cloves and chai tea. The only analogy I can possibly give for the taste (which will not do it justice and is more likely to gross out some) is that Sweet Coconut Thai tastes like what one might imagine a tea would taste like if it could be brewed by taking the drippings from a ham that was baked with a brown sugar glaze and cloves, desalinated and passed over chai tea. It's absolutely delicious and unique and there is nothing quite like it out there.
But no, it does not taste like coconut.
Adding sugar makes the sweetness come out more and while the aroma of cloves holds, it is the flavor of cinnamon that is enhanced by the addition of sugar. Personally, I seldom add sugar to this tea anymore, it is so naturally sweet! Adding milk is recommended by the manufacturer and it tastes fine with milk when the tea is hot or cold. It has a more muted taste with the milk and no, it does not taste any more like coconut with milk added to it than it does without.
Cold, the tea is delightful and in the summer I do enjoy it that way (I make believe I have my own little Panera in my kitchen!) and cool the flavor of cloves becomes a little more dominant, which I like. The tea has a strong, mysterious flavor to it either way.
This tea has more ingredients than most of Celestial Seasonings's teas and I think it's cheap to simply waste space in a review by listing them all (sometimes, they are listed in the view details, but not in this case). The top three ingredients, though, are rooibos, decaffeinated black tea and cinnamon, which accounts for much of this tea's flavor. There is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is 100% natural. It is noted that this tea may contain gluten, so those for whom that is important, please be aware.
In terms of nutrition, like most teas, Sweet Coconut Thai is not something you want to try to live on. Sure, you might have a wonderful tasting end of your life, but, considering that one 8 oz. mug of this tea provides nothing of nutritional value to the drinker, it's unclear how long one could survive on tea alone. There are no calories (save what one adds from sugar or milk), no fat, sodium, or protein and no caffeine. While the aroma is strong and might wake one up, the caffeine will not; this rates a 5 on the caffeine meter, which is analogous to a cup of decaffeinated coffee.
Sweet Coconut Thai 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 recommend not spilling it on important documents, antiques or poodles..
It might not taste like coconut, but it's sweet, chai flavored and delicious! The flavor truly is unique and intriguing and while the Chai tea trend may not last forever, it would be wonderful if Celestial Seasonings kept this on their shelves for good. Of course, if they don't, yeah, I could see stocking up with about thirty of these boxes if I needed to. After all, the box I originally bought in 2007 did not expire until 2009; that's a lot of tea enjoyment before they (allegedly) go bad!
For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
Country Peach Passion
Madagascar Vanilla Red
For other food and drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.