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June 06, 2005

Honest Tea

I promised in yesterday's post that I'd talk a bit more about Honest Tea. This is not in the way of a testimonial, but an anchor article for an experiment of mine. By way of background, I have to confess that while I eat healthy foods, I still indulge a few bad junk food habits. I'm currently abusing corn chips, Peanut M&M's and diet fruit colas. I'd like to at least cut back on all of these, but one thing at a time.

Recently I read a pair of articles, Kicking Sugar to the Curb and How to Give Up Coffee. Now I do not drink coffee. I consider it a foul beverage and an inferior caffeine delivery mechanism. But the two articles spurred me to try an experiment directed at gradual withdrawal from caffeine. The sugar article extolled the praises of Honest Tea, so I checked to see if they stock it at Wild Oats. They do, and so I bought seven bottles, each a different flavor. Two were caffeine free herbal concoctions, while the rest were variations on green tea. Since green tea has less caffeine than some caffeinated pops, I figured that this would let me start the gradual withdrawal plan, finally substituting the herbal varieties to complete the process. An added bonus is that the teas are low in sodium and don't have any of the Phosphoric Acid or Potassium found in pops.

So the rest of this post will contain my impressions of the various flavors of tea, since I may want to buy more, and will want to eliminate the truly hideous flavors from my choice list.

First Nation Peppermint

I drank about half of this early Sunday, and wasn't impressed. It tasted bland and a bit weak. Off to the refrigerator with it. Later, I was preparing my Chicken Enchilada recipe, listening to WFMU on iTunes Radio (they played Steve Harley!!!) and I grabbed the remainder to quench my kitchen induced thirst. It tasted much better. I don't know if the thirst was responsible, or if the flavor grows on you, but I'm willing to try this again in the endgame of the experiment.

Community Green

This green tea is a bit too bitter for my tastes. They flavor it with Maltese Orange, which might be the culprit. In any case, I'll be wanting to try out all the other flavors before I rate this one. First impression is not too favorable.

An unfortunate factoid: Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi has 24 mg. of caffeine per 8 oz. serving, while this tea has 26 mg. Since I drink the entire 12 oz. can of pop, and the entire 16 oz. bottle of tea, I end up consuming more caffeine (52 mg. versus 36 mg.). So in order to actually use this tea to cut back, I'd have to actually adhere to the '8 oz. per serving' labelling. In any case, I am getting the benefit of avoiding the Phosphoric acid.

Moroccan Mint Green

I'm halfway through this bottle, so I'll withhold judgement until I finish it. Plus note: I poured half the bottle into a cup and drank it. Eight ounces might be enough to sate my desire for a 'special' beverage after lunch...

Okay, I finished it with lunch, and it works to sate my need for a sweet, slightly caffeinated beverage. Like the First Nation Peppermint, it seems to grow on me with exposure, but this one's caffeinated.

Assam Black

This is one of the teas that, I must not kid myself, will do nothing to reduce my dependence on caffeine. 67 mg. in 8 ounces! Yikes. They calmly assure me that this is "1/2 the caffeine of coffee", but I don't drink coffee. I drink a can of pop that doses me with around 36 mg., so one serving of this baby is nearly twice that. Imagine if I drank the whole darn bottle!

That said, it has a pleasant, fruity appeal. I definitely know I'm drinking a black tea here, but I liked it quite a bit. Despite the higher caffeine content, I'm going to add it to the rotation, at least until I've phased out caffeinated pop entirely. Then I'll start concentrating on eliminating the big offenders like this one (fingers crossed!).

Kashmiri Chai

I definitely like the taste of this tea. It's very mild, with a cinnamon and flowers aroma. Not quite the caffeine offender as Assam Black, but still a bit high. I'll keep telling myself that at least I'm not getting all that sodium, excessive phosphates and artificial sweeteners of soda pop...

Black Forest Berry

I realized that I'd forgotten to mention this no-caffeine herbal tea. I had half the bottle with the first batch we bought. It's a very pleasant fruit tea, and I'd buy it again.

Decaf Ceylon

Another good tea, and with no caffeine! I had actually had my post-lunch tea (Assam Black) when I felt a further craving, so I finished off this bottle. Definitely buy again.

Green Dragon

It's hard to describe this tea. Most green teas have a pretty distinctive taste, and my only experience with teas with 'dragon' in the name is that they are pretty strong. No doubt that is just marketing rather than a long accepted cultural tradition.

Green Dragon tea is neither strong nor distinctively green. It's quite mild. However, I find it very satisfying, and it definitely makes the grade for future purchases (until I transition to all herbal teas to eliminate the caffeine)...

Peach Oo-la-long

One of the heftier caffeine doses, so I'll try to avoid this one, it is nevertheless reasonably tasty.

Here are the '8 oz.' caffeine quantities of their teas (herbal teas have no caffeine):

  Assam Black, 67 mg
  Community Green, 26 mg
  Green Dragon Tea, 26 mg
  Heavenly Honey Green, 27 mg
  Kashmiri Chai, 58 mg
  Lori's Lemon Tea, 67 mg
  Mango White Tea, 14 mg
  Moroccan Mint Green, 27 mg
  Peach Oo-la-long, 62 mg
  Pearfect White Tea, 14 mg
  Vanilla Mint White Tea, 14 mg

So it looks as if the Assam, Chai, Lemon and Oolong teas can only be used to wean me off the carbonated, artificially sweetened aspects of my pop addiction, as an 8 oz. serving of each is going to exceed what I get from a 12 oz. can of pop. The Green, Dragon, Honey and Mint Green teas are mostly only a gain if I limit myself to 8 oz. servings. Mango White, Pearfect White and Vanilla Mint White are clear wins. We'll see how well this all works out, but I'm skeptical right now...

NOTE: I have some flavors waiting in the wings, but here are flavors I've as yet been unable to locate:

Posted by dpwakefield at June 6, 2005 09:05 PM


On the flipside to the caffeine issue, which doesn't faze me as much as you, the teas have far less sugar per bottle than one can of pop does.

Posted by: Kylanath at June 7, 2005 12:42 PM

That's true. I stock my shelf at work with strictly diet soda, so it's only an issue when I give in to temptation and buy a sugared pop off the snack cart that prowls the halls at work twice a day.


Posted by: Donald Wakefield at June 7, 2005 12:56 PM