The teas I tasted in A.D. 2016 and what I thought about them. Prices are per pound.
#1 – March 9, 2016 – Tiesta Tea
As with my 2016 Coffee Journal, I got a really late start this year on my tea reviews as well. And while I still have several bags of Teavana loose leaf left to write about, I felt like writing about something new. The good news is, while I was too busy with other adventures to write here on a regular basis, I didn’t stop drinking tea and coffee, so I’ve been able to spend a little time with the Tiesta line of teas I picked up at Sprouts Farmers Market late last year, and can hopefully crank out a few reviews in relatively short order.
#2 – March 10, 2016 – Tiesta Fruity Pebbles
With a name like Fruity Pebbles, how could this not be the first Tiesta tea to be reviewed? I was once a big fan of the breakfast cereal by the same name. Unfortunately, without an ample dose of sweetener, the tea and the cereal don’t have a lot in common. The ingredients are listed plainly on the front of the pouch: green and white teas, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, and rose petals. Honestly, I didn’t like it at first. The leaves resemble an imperial cut, though more crushed and fragmented in appearance, and the little fruit bits make it too bitter for my taste. If you’ve read my reviews from previous years, you’ll remember that I like strong tea. The trick to this one is to steep it a tad on the weak side. Pour it into the cup while it is still a pale yellow-green and clear. Sweetener is a must, but only a little is needed to liven up the weaker brew. I tried both sugar and Truvia, and both worked equally well (no pun intended). Fruity Pebbles is part of Tiesta’s Slenderizer line, so if your intent is diet control, go easy on the sugar or use one of the the extracts.
#3 – March 24, 2016 – Tiesta Kokomate
The next Tiesta Tea on my list is Kokomate, part of the Energizer line. Rated high in caffeine content, the ingredients for this blend are yerba mate, rooibos, coconut, and cinnamon. I can’t give this one high marks for two reasons. First, I’m not a fan of rooibos. I know, why did I bother buying it then, right? Because the rooibos in some teas isn’t overpowering and actually blends well with the other flavors. And, I do like yerba mate, which is (IMHO) an aquired taste. This blend, however, is not to my liking. It seems to accentuate the properties of both teas that I do not find favorable, and the coconut and cinnamon aren’t strong enough to make up for it. To state it plainly, it is bland. The other reason is that the mixture is chopped up so fine that even my French press cannot filter the particles. A film of green bits float at the top of the cup and it is difficult, if not impossible, to skim all of them off. It’s no fun when one of the particles hits the back of the throat on the way down…especially when it sticks…right…there. Yeah, I’m done with this one.
#4 – October 18, 2016 – Tiesta Blueberry Wild Child
After a long summer hiatus from tea, I’m ready for cooler temperatures and a return to one of my favorite ways of staying warm. It’s already mid-October and we haven’t had that first “sweater day” in Texas yet. You know, that day when you step out in the morning and seriously consider whether you should go back in to grab a sweater. Nonetheless, I felt like having some tea this afternoon, so I dug into my stash and retrieved the baby blue bag of Tiesta Blueberry Wild Child. This blend is fully herbal – blueberries, hibiscus, elderberries, apple, and pomegranate, but no actual tea – and thus is completely free of caffeine. Its part of the Eternity line, which is comprised of teas full of superfruits and antioxidants. I really like this one! It has a great bold taste, and it does need a little sweetener to counter the bitterness. It is very good hot, like mulled wine of brewed strong enough, and the iced version is a nice substitute for sugary fruit drinks.
#5 – November 10, 2016 – Tiesta Fireberry
This flavor is from Tiesta’s Immunity line. It contains hibiscus, rooibos, currants, rosehips, elderberries and cranberries…and no actual tea, so there is also no caffeine. It brews to a beautiful red and does require some sweetener, though not a lot. The taste resembles red wine. The rooibos is there, but it is sufficiently obscured by the other ingredients. My only complaint is the floaters. If you use a tea ball, you may consider using paper filters for this tea instead.
#6 – November 11, 2016 – Tiesta Passion Berry Jolt
This is a very solid black tea. The only other ingredients are raspberry and passion fruit flavoring, marigolds, and cornflowers, and a quick inspection of the leaves reveals that the flower petals are used sparingly. The non-tea ingredients level out the bitterness with mild overtones, but other than that, it’s just a good basic black tea. Interestingly, Passion Berry Jolt is part of the Energizer line (as one might guess from the name) and the caffeine level is indicated as “high” on the bag, but if it’s just black tea, shouldn’t it be labelled as “normal”?
#7 – December 6, 2016 – Tiesta Nutty Almond Cream
Of all the Tiesta teas I tried this year, the Nutty Almond Cream just isn’t really my — well — cup of tea. It’s very mild with a cloudy after taste that reminds me of apple cider. It contains apple pieces, crushed almonds, cinnamon, and beetroot. The bright red and clear brew contrasts with both the taste as well as the lavender bag. I was definitely expecting something more…brown, I guess. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from trying it, because it isn’t bad, but it’s just not my thing.
#8 – December 30, 2016 – Tea Year in Review
As I mentioned in my Coffee Journal for this year, I had very little time to write and I look forward to doing a better job next year. I was glad to finally taste the Tiesta Tea offerings, though. I like the packaging and how they aren’t afraid to show the product in a little window that spans the front of the bad. And honestly, most of the flavors are quite good. In all, it was a good year, even if I didn’t get to taste as many teas as I had hoped.