Saturday, July 9, 2011

Simple Repack Theatre - Celestial Seasonings Fruit Sampler Herb Teas!

The Good: Some delightful flavors that taste exactly like what they are supposed to, Nothing bad in them!
The Bad: Almost all are sour and foul cold, No caffeine!
The Basics: With five flavor options, most of them good (all made better with sugar and served piping hot) the Fruit Sampler is a decent tea collection for fruit lovers.

I've been reviewing things like gaming cards and I've been disappointed when the card manufacturers simple plop together a lot of old product and package it up as something new, usually with a limited pack of cards or foil reprints of previously released popular cards as an incentive to purchase those repacks. I've reviewed them as "Simple Repack Theatre" and I see no reason not to apply the same standard to my food reviews. Sure, samplers are slightly different, but they are essentially the same thing: the "Greatest Hits" of the food world.

So, when I picked up a package of Celestial Seasonings's fruit tea as the Fruit Sampler, I decided I might as well review it as a body of its own as a collection of five individual teas. They say variety is the spice of life and with five different fruit flavors, the Fruit Sampler provides a decent selection of Celestial Seasonings fruit teas.


The Fruit Sampler is a collection of five teas from Celestial Seasonings: Raspberry Zinger, Cranberry Apple Zinger, Black Cherry Berry, Tangerine Orange Zinger and Country Peach Passion. They are herb teas that have no caffeine because all of the all natural herbs in them are naturally devoid of caffeine. The Fruit Sampler separates the flavors by wax/plastic coated packages that have four each of the Celestial Seasoning's standard stringless tea bags. They are individual tea bags in these packs, not the standard pairs. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags, which means the Fruit Sampler gives me only two pots of each. The Fruit Sampler has twenty tea bags total; four of each of the five flavors.

The teas are all fruit teas and on that front they live up to the Fruit Sampler name.

Ease Of Preparation

All five teas in the Fruit Sampler are teas, which means preparation ridiculously easy. There is little science to the preparation of teas like this and anyone intimidated by making tea ought to be very worried; you don't get much easier tasks in the kitchen than making a pot of tea! A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea, though reusing the tea bags yields a rather weak brew. All five flavors yielded a tea that is at best 5/8 strong when the tea bags are reused. The Fruit Sampler teas are not ideal for reusing a second time! I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though it is difficult to get a satisfying second pot out of the bags.

To prepare these teas, simply boil some water, and pour it over the tea bags in a cup, mug or steeping pot. Each tea is recommended to take four to six minutes to steep and after a couple cups and pots, I've found that with truly boiling water, the teas are generally ready at the four minute mark and letting it steep longer strangely does not change the results. Letting the tea steep more than six minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.

When visiting the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder, Colorado and taking the free tour there, I remember distinctly the tour guide warning us all that with the Zinger teas milk cannot be added. If you add milk to a Zinger tea, the tea curdles the milk, I'm fairly sure it was because of the citric acid in the tea. The problem is, I'm not positive that's the reason (I am sure of the warning and the result of adding milk to Zinger teas), but I seem to recall that citric acid was to blame. As a result of a good faith belief that the people who produce this product know what they are talking about, none of my sampling of the Fruit Sampler teas involved adding milk to them.


Cranberry Apple Zinger impressed me before the first sip. The aroma to the Cranberry Apple Zinger is that of an apple and cinnamon (which makes sense given the ingredients). The cranberry does not come through by the vapors, but the apple does and it is strong and inviting and opens the drinker up to a steaming cup of apple. The first taste is cranberry and unless one has added sugar to it, it's not a kind, pacified "Ocean Spray" type cranberry flavor that greets the consumer. Instead, this is the punk of the cranberry bog that comes in to stomp on the taste buds with attitude. Cranberry Apple Zinger tastes just like bog-ripened cranberries and the flavor is sour and distinct and undeniably cranberry in flavor. The nice thing is, it doesn't stay mean and cranberry for long. The bold flavor of the cranberries fades almost immediately from the tongue into a safe, pedestrian and delicious apple taste, just like the smell had previewed for the consumer. The apple flavor is kinder to the taste buds and after the shock of the cranberries, it is a delicious combination. It is also evidence of how cagey the food scientists at Celestial Seasonings truly are; the apple flavor cuts the cranberry and dissipates any potential aftertaste! Anyone who has had real cranberries knows that they leave a distinct aftertaste in the mouth for a while after consumption of the berries. The apple flavor dominates instead of any aftertaste and it is a welcome change for the person drinking this tea!

Country Peach Passion underwhelmed me before the first sip. I eagerly bent down to inhale its fragrance and it was so subtle as to almost be nonexistent. What aroma there was was more powerfully tea than peach. This, from experience I suspected, did not bode well; teas that are timid with their aroma tend to not be bold on taste either. Sadly, this tea fell down in exactly that way. Country Peach Passion, I've finally been able to define clearly, tastes like a generic herbal tea prepared in the same mug that just had orange juice sitting in it for about three hours prior. So, there's this flavor of the skim of o.j. coming through the tea and it's a little sour, like the mug had been sitting in the sun with that little layer of orange juice at the bottom. That is the precise flavor of Country Peach Passion.

Raspberry Zinger impressed me with the first sip. While the aroma is faintly fruity, it does not adequately prepare the tea drinker for the raspberry flavor. What aroma there was was vaguely fruity, not even smelling much like tea. I was concerned that this meant it would taste weak, but with my first sip, I was pleasantly surprised. Raspberry Zinger tastes like sun-ripened raspberries and the flavor is sour and distinct and undeniably raspberry in flavor. The precise flavor of Raspberry Zinger is that of a raspberry bursting with flavor in the early August sunlight. If you've never had that experience, now you have something to look forward to August for.

Black Cherry Berry is a wonderful example of Celestial Seasonings undermining itself by adding too much. The black cherry half of the tea is wonderful and had the company stuck with that, this would have been a clear, high rated tea with a strong recommend. The problem is the berry component. The aroma is very strong when the tea is steaming hot and it smells like a black cherry tart fresh out of the oven! This sets the person drinking the tea up for a very realistic impression of what is coming when they begin sipping the tea. Without sugar, Black Cherry Berry rolls over the tongue with the vaguely sweet, dry taste that cherry lovers will recognize as the flavor of black cherries. It is distinctive, true to flavor and delicious. Anyone who is looking for a hot cherry beverage will be impressed with this tea. It lives up to its flavor and the cherry is true to being black cherry, which is what I look for whenever I review a fruit tea. The problem is, as the flavor lingers on the tongue, it becomes corrupted by the berry nature of the beverage. The blackberries provide a sour kick that is true to (strangely) the worst elements of raspberries. Yes, the blackberries provide a sour raspberry aftertaste to the tea and it becomes quite vile, the longer one lets it linger. And the undertaste of the berries is just awful in a way that I am at a loss to describe but that "awful" is surprisingly precise for!

Tangerine Orange Zinger impressed me with the first sip. While the aroma is faintly fruity, it does not adequately prepare the tea drinker for the orange flavor. In fact, the aroma is very subtle, even when the tea is absolutely steaming. What aroma there was was vaguely fruity, not even smelling much like tea. I was concerned that this meant it would taste weak, but with my first sip, I was pleasantly surprised. Tangerine Orange Zinger tastes like warm, sweet citrus fruit and the flavor is deliciously orange flavored. Anyone who grew up playing soccer and sucking on oranges during halftime, oranges made hot in the sun on a July day will recognize the precise flavor of the tea. Actually, it is about half as strong as an actual orange, but the tea still tastes yummy!

All of these teas are enhanced by the addition of even a little sugar. Any sourness - especially with the Cranberry Apple Zinger and Black Cherry Berry - is seriously cut with even a little sugar.


These teas are primarily made of varying proportions of hibiscus, rosehips, and chicory. Ironically, most of the primary fruits that the teas are named for tend to fall near the bottom of the ingredients lists. All of the Fruit Sampler teas are naturally caffeine-free.

Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of teas from the Fruit Sampler, these teas would be devoid of any nutritional value. They contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein. Fortunately they have taste, even if they lack caffeine!


The Fruit Sampler teas are 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 teas are generally fairly light, though they will stain, if one left them on fabric, but mugs that hold the tea rinse clean. Spills ought to be cleaned up quickly to prevent this tea from staining fabrics, though that's a pretty good general rule not just limited to the Fruit Sampler teas.

Because of the inner packaging of the Fruit Sampler teas, less care is needed before the package is opened to keep the box in a cool dry place, but once the individual pouches holding each flavor are opened, it is very important to keep them sealed away from moisture as there is no easy to close the inconvenient little packs.


Celestial Seasonings knows how to make teas and the Fruit Sampler teas are basically hot fruit beverages. They are generally good, but all of them require sugar to reach their full potential and flavor. Those who do not like adding sweetener to their teas might have a problem with that. I, for one, do not. So, I'm pretty happy to sweeten and enjoy the variety of fruit teas. This pack is ideal for those stocking a house for company when they don't know what kind of fruit teas their guests might enjoy.

For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Victorian Earl Grey
Blueberry Breeze
Red Safari Spice


For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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

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