The Good: Tastes authentically of tea . . .
The Bad: Not strongly lemon, Caffeine free, Extraneous tea garbage
The Basics: "I Love Lemon" is not strongly lemon flavored, even for Bigelow teas, disappointing the tea connoisseur.
Admittedly, by this point in my exploration of various foods and drinks, it is hard to find a tea that is a better lemon tea than one I have already tried. Celestial Seasonings' "Lemon Zinger" (reviewed here!) is amazing and even in Bigelow, there is Lemon Lift (reviewed here!) which was surprisingly good. Still, when I recently spent some time on the road, I encountered Bigelow's "I Love Lemon" tea and I was intrigued.
Having now had a few pots of the tea . . . I am no longer intrigued. Unfortunately, this tea is quite a letdown and nowhere near the boisterous lemon experience one might expect given the tea's name. I love lemon, but I do not love "I Love Lemon" because . . . well, it is not lemon flavored enough.
I Love Lemon is an herbal tea from Bigelow. It is a black tea that is caffeine-free and boasts being all natural. I Love Lemon 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 I Love Lemon reminds me of why I like the easy environmentalism of Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags. A box of I Love Lemon comes with 20 individually-wrapped tea bags.
I Love Lemon is marketed as a lemon flavored tea and it falls terribly shy of that, especially by comparison within the Bigelow brand.
Ease Of Preparation
I Love Lemon 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, I Love Lemon 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 I Love Lemon, simply boil some water, and pour it over the tea bags in a cup, mug or steeping pot. This tea is recommended to take three to five minutes to steep and after a couple cups and pots, I've found that with truly boiling water, the tea is ready at the four minute mark, but it reaches its full flavor at four minutes. However, letting the tea steep more than six minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.
"I Love Lemon" is hardly a great tea that embodies lemon flavor. In fact, this herbal tea has a lot less fruit flavor than Bigelow's I Love Lemon. Subtle and without any sense of sour, "I Love Lemon" tastes more like a black tea diluted with lemonwater than a strongly lemon flavor. Ironic considering that this is an herbal tea without any tea leaves in it, "I Love Lemon" is less dominated by anything resembling a lemon flavor and tastes more like generic tea. On its own "I Love Lemon" does have a strong scent of citrus. When hot, this is a fairly aromatic beverage that prepares the consumer for a bold lemon - and only lemon, not lemon and spices - flavor.
Unfortunately, the scent appears to be about as far as this goes. The dominant taste in this tea is actually tea and the lemon flavor appears only as an aftertaste, like an afterthought the tastebuds have to accommodate the scent. The tea is only mildly sour with its aftertaste and the citrus taste is sublimated to the herbs in the beverage.
With a teaspoon of sugar, the lemon taste is brought out in a mild and generally pleasant way, much the way a lemon drop has a lemon flavor to it. In other words, it has a slight flavor of sweet lemon to it, but it is hardly a rich or accurate lemon taste. For those who might truly love lemon, this is hardly the strongest or truest flavor to it.
Cold or iced, the tea flavor completely dominates the tea, making it a remarkably weak showing for those ready to be impressed by a flavor marketed toward those who love lemon flavoring. This is a very real disappointment and when cold the sourness of lemons does not come through, one knows they are drinking a misnamed product!
It is not surprising that the dominant flavor of I Love Lemon is not particularly lemon, considering that the primary ingredients are: rose hips, lemongrass, and natural lemon flavor (soy lecithin). This tea does use lemon peels to try to enhance the lemon flavor, but the peels are down on the ingredient list, making this a very rose hip dominated tea.
Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of I Love Lemon, 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!
I Love Lemon 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 light, especially at full strength, but 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 I Love Lemon tea.
I Love Lemon trades on being very lemon, but this is a more tea flavored tea than it ought to be and as a result, it leaves the consumer feeling strongly disappointed with the way it is marketed and presented.
For other Bigelow tea reviews, please check out:
Orange & Spice
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© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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