Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Not Cheating If It's Free, Right? How I Can Review "Lemon Lift" With Integrity!

The Good: Great aroma, good with sugar.
The Bad: Caffeine Free, Extraneous packaging, Black tea flavor dominates
The Basics: Dominated by the black tea flavor, Lemon Lift disappoints tea drinkers who like their fruit flavored teas to taste like the named fruit.

For those who might not follow my regular tea reviews, I am a Celestial Seasonings loyalist. Yes, I am big on brand loyalty and Celestial Seasonings is the brand of tea I prefer and a company whose ethics most closely match mine (in the tea industry) by treating their workers fairly, performing decent research and development and working with respect to the environment in their packaging and harvesting. However, every now and then, I end up with tea from somewhere else and as I wait for some of the brand new flavors of Celestial Seasonings teas, I am reviewing some of those other flavors.

Actually, while traveling on my yearly cross country adventure, I found myself at a Quality Inn near the Mall Of America in Minnesota that had a twenty-four hour tea service. Well, with so many options just sitting there, I probably could have stopped myself from taking about six of each flavor, but strangely I didn't stop myself. Go figure. As a result, I have ended up with a good sized stash of a diverse array of Bigelow teas. Given the choice of being branded a cheater (oh, my poor slighted lover Celestial Seasonings!) or a random kleptomaniac (though I DID pay for that hotel room . . .), I'm going with the tea cheat and enjoying and reviewing Lemon Lift.


Lemon Lift is a tea from Bigelow. It is a black tea that has caffeine and smells pretty amazing, like the lemon equivalent of spiced cider. Lemon Lift comes in Bigelow's standard individually-wrapped tea bags, means that each tea bag has a wax papery envelope it is sealed in for freshness. Each tea bag has a five-inch string with a little paper tab at the end, which is quite a bit more waste than I like from a tea bag. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and making a steeping pot of Lemon Lift reminds me of why I like the easy environmentalism of Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags. A box of Lemon Lift comes with 20 individually-wrapped tea bags.

Lemon Lift is marketed as a lemon flavored tea and it lives up to that more with the aroma than the actual taste, though it certainly has an aftertaste that if fairly richly of lemons.

Ease Of Preparation

Lemon Lift is a tea, which means preparation is as easy as boiling a pot of water! A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea, though reusing the tea bags yields little more than hot water. These tea bags can be reused the result is still a fairly strong pot of tea. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, even for a second pot. Indeed, Lemon Lift makes for one of the best tea bags to reuse with a second pot coming out about 3/4 to 7/8 as strong as the original pot!

To prepare Lemon Lift, simply boil some water, and pour it over the tea bags in a cup, mug or steeping pot. This tea is recommended to take one to two minutes to steep and after a couple cups and pots, I've found that with truly boiling water, the tea is ready at the two minute mark, but it reaches its full flavor at four minutes. However, letting the tea steep more than four minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.


Lemon Lift prepared me to be surprised with its aroma. This smells like a lemon being baked in cloves and other spices, almost like an autumn potpourri satchel. I was, therefore, a bit disappointed upon taking my first few sips. Lemon Lift tastes like black tea . . . with a slightly sour aftertaste after one swallows the tea. I am used to rich lemon flavors, like Celestial Seasonings' "Lemon Zinger" (reviewed here!), where the flavor of lemon dominates the tea. Lemon Lift is the antithesis of that; it smells like what it is supposed to, but tastes just like tea. It is that type of lack of flavor that made me run from Lipton teas the moment I left my father's house many years ago. Add to the lack of lemon flavor as a dominant taste, after the lemon afterkick, there is a dry aftertaste that lingers for three to four minutes on the tongue. It is not sour or flavorful, but it makes one's mouth taste dry and thus want a drink . . . which makes one's mouth taste dry again.

With a teaspoon of sugar, this tea finally tastes like lemons! Strangely, the sugar cuts the tea taste and pushes it back so that one can taste the citrus flavoring of the lemons. Similarly, adding just a splash of milk cut the dry aftertaste and helped to enhance the fruit flavor that this tea trades on.

One of the other things I noticed was that as the tea gets cooler, it begins to taste more like lemons than when it is hot. Strangely, though, when iced, Lemon Lift is completely dominated by the black tea flavor, no matter how much ice one adds.


It is not surprising that the dominant flavor of Lemon Lift is not particularly lemon, considering that the primary ingredients are: black tea, natural lemon flavor (soy lecithin), and spice. This tea does not even use lemon peels to try to enhance the lemon flavor, so it is unsurprising that the black tea would kick the lemon's flavor down.

Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of Lemon Lift, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein. It does, however, have caffeine and it actually does kick with the caffeine a little bit, causing one to perk up. So, at least it lives up on the "lift" part of its name!


Lemon Lift is 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. If composting, though, one needs to remove the string and staple in order to insure that everything being put in your garden is actually biodegradable. This tea is fairly dark, especially at full strength and it will probably stain fabrics. However, 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 Lemon Lift tea.


Lemon Lift is all right, at least with sugar to bring out the actual lemon flavor. It is a bold tea, but the tea is too bold for the weak lemon flavor, making it one that is hit or miss. If I'm offered a tea service of only Bigelow teas, Lemon Lift is one I would drink again, but not one I would buy to have around the house.

This is a remarkably average tea.

For other Bigelow tea reviews, please check out:
Sweetheart Cinnamon
100% Ceylon
Perfect Peach


For other food or drink reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject!

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

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