The Good: Tastes good, Caffeinated, Good with sugar, Nothing bad in it
The Bad: Not terribly strong on vanilla flavor
The Basics: Good tasting and flavorful, even if it is not the most emblematic of honey or vanilla, Honey Vanilla White is a chai tea we hope survives the trend!
I'm hardly what one could call a slave to fashions or trends. The advantage of being comfortable in one's place in life as far as wealth or poverty goes is that one does not need the security of other people's esteem to enjoy life. So, when it comes to trendy dietary fashions, I've never been a part of any. Indeed, my love of things like chai teas has more to do with my love of places like Panera Bread than the fact that such drinks are considered hip, cool, dope, or whatever people in the know are saying these says.
So when I picked up a bunch of chai teas this year on my annual trip to Celestial Seasonings, it was certainly not because chai teas are trendy. I picked up several flavors (links below) because I have a love of chai teas and because I was looking for new and different flavors for me to sample and review here. So when I picked up Honey Vanilla White Tea Chai, I was psyched and I have to say, it's a good tea undoctored, but with additives, it's even better.
Honey Vanilla White is a 100% Natural Chai Tea from Celestial Seasonings in their Teahouse Chai line. This Chai tea is 100% natural and has caffeine in it. 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 - this tea now fits the bill, for a lot less money than going out for tea drinks! It has a similar sweetness as the chai drinks that have become so trendy in cafes in the United States in the last five years.
Honey Vanilla White 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 Honey Vanilla White comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.
Ease Of Preparation
Honey Vanilla White is your standard black tea as far as the preparation goes, which might seem odd given that this is a mix of white and black teas. Usually, white tea requires a more delicate preparation but this tea is prepared with full boiling water, so one assumes that the white tea elements in it get cooked beyond their normal threshold. 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 Honey Vanilla White 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 Honey Vanilla White 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.
Right off the bat, Honey Vanilla White is not at all like any other white tea on the market. Truth be told, I'm not exactly sure why Celestial Seasonings bothered with making this one a white tea. The black tea and flavorings completely overwhelm the white tea and one assumes that the preparation destroys any nutritional benefits a white tea usually promotes with its underdeveloped buds.
On its own and hot, Honey Vanilla White has the strong scent of ginger and cloves and those are the dominant tastes. This tastes like a clove and ginger black tea and when the aroma opens up the nostrils, that is what the drinker is most prepared for. On its own, it has a honey aftertaste, but nothing so forceful for its primary flavoring.
Adding sugar makes the sweetness of honey come out more and while the aroma of cloves and ginger holds, it manages to take on more of a vanilla flavor as well. With sugar, it has a distinct taste of honey and vanilla in addition to the more strong taste of cloves and ginger.
With milk, the tastes are a bit muted, save the ginger flavor. Some vanilla teas have the creamy vanilla flavor brought out by milk, but in this one it just gets smothered.
Cold, the tea is fine and since the summer I have enjoyed it that way (I make believe I have my own little Panera in my kitchen!). Cooled, the flavor of ginger becomes a bit more dominant, but the honey flavor is also accented as well. 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 see no reason to recite them all in the review. The top three ingredients, though, are white tea, black tea, and roasted chicory, 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 is gluten-free and it is considered Kosher.
In terms of nutrition, like most teas, Honey Vanilla White is not something you want to try to live on. Sure, you might have a wonderful tasting way to go, 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. While the aroma is strong and might wake one up, how much kick the caffeine has is somewhat up in the air; the new box no longer has a caffeine meter on it!
Honey Vanilla White 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, papers or wedding apparel.
Mugs used to drink the tea out of ought to rinse clean but I've found my steeping pot needs an extra rinsing after brewing Honey Vanilla White because otherwise it leaves a faint ginger aftertaste in the pot that alters the next tea I make in it.
This might be the strongest representative of honey or vanilla flavorings - hence the three star rating for this tea I am raving about - but it is a good one and one I know I'll pick up more of next year when I go back to Celestial Seasonings. Anyone who likes a strong, flavorful spiced tea will enjoy Honey Vanilla White. Those looking for the same old white tea will not.
For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
Decaf Mint Green Tea
Acai Mango Zinger
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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