Friday, April 1, 2011

White Tea: Blandness Epitomized With "Antioxidant Plum" By Celestial Seasonings

The Good: Good nutritional benefits, Has caffeine!
The Bad: Bland, Completely bland, Does not taste like plums, Lack of aroma, Unmemorable!
The Basics: White tea might be hard to make, but Antioxidant Plum White Tea by Celestial Seasonings makes the case for not bothering to make it at all!

The last two years, I have made a trip in the summer to Las Vegas. Two years ago, I stayed at a friend of mine, who I went to college with, in Boulder, Colorado. I had scheduled a few days in the area because I had never been out West before and I wanted to catch up with my friend. While she was working during the day, one of the days I went to visit the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder. How cool was it? Well, I made a special trip back on my way home from Vegas the next year!

While the tour was interesting and fun, this second trip to Celestial Seasonings I made for one very good reason: the gift shop. At the Celestial Seasonings plant there is every manner of tea (including some flavors that cannot be found in stores!) and some of it is even less expensive there than anywhere else. So, this last trip, I picked up thirty-five boxes of tea, with few duplicates and have been eagerly drinking them since. I've only recently started reviewing them and thus far, I've hit one disappointment with the Tropic Of Strawberry tea (reviewed here!) I cannot think of one I was more excited to try than the Antioxidant Plum White Tea.


Antioxidant Plum is a white tea "supplement" from Celestial Seasonings. What makes it a "supplement?" No idea, the box doesn't say, though I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it has something to do with the vitamins that are packed into this drink or the "antioxidant" claim it makes. Either way, it is not a controlled substance. It is a 100% natural white tea and it is loaded with caffeine (see "nutrition" below!). It 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 Antioxidant Plum comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.

As one might guess, this tea is intended to be plum flavored. I have a B.A. and that is supposed to make me more employable, too. Sometimes the fantasies don't live up.

The Antioxidant Plum is a white tea. White tea is made from virgin tea blooms (I kid you not, the tour went on and on about how hard it is to cultivate the buds while they are still new) and as a result, white tea is very uncommon. Because of the limited window of time to harvest the buds and first-growth tea leaves, white tea is very difficult to process, yet buyers still get a box with twenty teabags, just like virtually any other Celestial Seasoning tea!

Ease Of Preparation

As a white tea, Antioxidant Plum requires a little more care to prepare than most teas. 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 Antioxidant Plum with little loss of flavor (there's a good reason for that, see below in "taste!"). I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though it's virtually impossible to get a decent second pot out of the bags.

To prepare Antioxidant Plum tea, bring a pot of water to a near-boil and pour it over the tea bags. The water should not be boiling, but rather a few degrees below boiling when you pour the water over the tea bag(s) in your cup, mug or pot. Antioxidant Plum takes only one to three minutes to steep according to the directions. In my experience, it needs the full three minutes (at one minute, it's little more than colored water. Come to think of it, after three it's . . .), though letting it steep longer than that does not make the flavor any more full.


The problem with Antioxidant Plum is it might well be the weakest flavor in the Celestial Seasonings line-up. To answer the question, does it taste like plum? The simple answer is "no." Does it taste like antioxidants? Beats me. . . do antioxidants taste like hot water?

Wow, this is one of those times I wish I had a thesaurus here at my fingertips. After all, in movies and music, there are plenty of words I can use to describe something as "bland." I doubt a tea can truly be characterized as "insipid." Antioxidant Plum is one weak tea. Tropic Of Strawberry beats it up and takes its lunch money. Plum? It's nowhere to be found. It was Dr. McCoy's nickname in the Star Trek episode "The Man Trap" (reviewed here!). It appears to be the pet name for Antioxidant tea as well.

Just to be perfectly clear; this tea does not taste like, nor smell like plums. It has a faint sweet aroma reminiscent of fruit, but not plums specifically. In its hot form, this tea is simply bland with an undercurrent of non-threatening sweet. As the tea washes over one's tongue, the general sensation is hot with a hint that sweet is hiding behind a curtain in an adjacent room. It's not quite an aftertaste of sweet, more like a vapor of . . . this is ridiculous. It's bland. This tea is flavorless and it barely colors the water. A second seeping doesn't make the flavor any less strong because it is such a weak tea.

Adding sugar to this tea does highlight the sweetness of it, but does nothing to make it taste more like plums. No, that ship has sailed; no amount of sugar makes this taste like plums. Even if it were called "Hint of Plums" that would be overstating its actual pluminess. See? This tea is so boring I had to make up a word to describe how much plum flavor it lacks!

Cold, the tea is even worse. If the Antioxidant Plum tastes like hot water with a faintly fruity bouquet, the tea when cold tastes like cold water. That's it. I never added milk to the Antioxidant Plum, hot or cold, though milk should be able to be added to this tea without any adverse effects (at least in terms of chemical composition). I imagine it would taste like hot water with milk then, though.


Okay, the ingredients for this tea freaked me out because the ingredients are listed as "Other ingredients" and it's just "Natural plum flavor with other natural flavors (contains soy lecithin)." I suppose the other ingredient is the white tea leaves. It is cited as being all natural and Gluten free on the box.

In terms of nutrition, this might as well be a vitamin supplement. One 8 oz. mug of this tea provides the person drinking it with 110% of their daily recommended vitamin c, as well as 20% of vitamins A and E. This rates a 55 on the caffeine meter (based on milligrams of caffeine in an 8 oz. serving), which puts it just above Cola and a little over half of what one would expect from a cup of regular coffee.

I suppose one could drink this for the nutritional benefit, but there has got to be a better, especially tastier, way of doing that.


Antioxidant Plum 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 so weak I doubt it could stain anything if one were trying! As a result, mugs that hold the tea ought to clean up with a rinse without any problems.


After all the hype over white tea, I was tremendously disappointed with the Antioxidant Plum White Tea from Celestial Seasonings. If anything, I was biased toward it going in and now . . . wow. This is the Segue of teas; remember how Seques were hyped to be the next huge thing . . . Yeah, I still walk everywhere, too.

For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
Moroccan Pomegranate Red
Tuscany Orange Spice
Imperial White Peach


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

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

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