Thursday, September 18, 2014

Zest Tea Energy Blends Review

Just a few days ago I got a package from Zest Tea with a variety of tea flavors as shown in the photo. Zest Tea makes and sells a variety of loose leaf tea blends in biodegradable pyramid bags. Wait, wait, wait...why am I reviewing tea on this blog? Because the teas from Zes Ttea ARE PACKED WITH CAFFEINE! Each bag of tea contains 150 to 155 mg of caffeine which is about the same as a can of Monster, or 2 Red Bulls, or more than a cop of coffee.

I know what your first question will be - "How is this possible? Tea doesn't have that much caffeine." Well, good question and I asked myself the same thing when I first got the teas. You see, Zest Tea adds caffeine to each of the tea blends for that extra boost...that's how. Simple, right?

Next thing I wondered about is if and how the added caffeine affected the taste of the tea. Caffeine in its pure form is very bitter so adding it to a drink gives it a bitter undertone. Many of the earlier energy shots suffered from this problem as it was hard to counteract the bitterness in such a small container. But with tea, you can add sugar, dilute the cup, add lemons, etc. So even if there is bitterness, you can balance it out. OK, enough of this, lets drink!


Earl Grey Black

Zest Tea's Early Grey Black is a blend of South Indian orange flower pekoe black tea, bergamot flavor and caffeine. The loose leaves are very aromatic and do smell like a fine English tea. The steeped tea also has the same fragrant aroma without any odd tones that don't belong.

The flavor? Well...delicious...No, really. I buy a lot of loose leaf earl grey tea and drink at least 2 cups of it every day at work and if you were to put Zest Tea next to a good blend of earl grey, you will not be able to tell which one packs the insane amount of first. Zest Tea does have one tell, which is the slightly dry finish which is an effect of the caffeine.

Other than the slight dry mouth, there are no bitter tones, there are no odd notes, there isn't really anything out of the ordinary and the tea itself is very good. It is way better than the pre-packaged tea you can get at the grocery store. I really, really liked this blend.

Taste - 9.7/10

Blue Lady Black

This tea is a blend of South Indian flower orange pekoe black tea, cornflower petals, hibiscus, orange, lemon, passion fruit and caffeine. The passion fruit, orange and lemon give it an incredible aroma. The moment I opened the bag, the air around me was almost instantly filled with strong fruity notes. It was fantastic

The brewed tea retains some of the fruity aromas, but the hibiscus comes out on top and is more predominant. The flavor of the steeped tea is a little bit different with the pekoe forming the dominant base and the hibiscus/orange combo forming the next most detectable layer. The orange flavor seems to be stackable because after a few sips, it starts to become the dominant flavor right before the finish.

The fruits give the tea a very, very nice finish and you are left with lingering passion fruit, lemon and orange notes. The caffeine gives it the dry mouth feel, but combined with the fruitiness, you are left with a very clean and focused aftertaste. The combination of aroma, taste and finish make this incredibly enjoyable...but I still prefer the simplicity of the Earl Grey.

Taste - 9.5/10

Pomegranate Mojito Green

The Pomegranate Mojito tea is a blend of Young Hyson Chinese tea, peppermint, pomegranate and lime flavor and caffeine. This gives the brewed tea a minty aroma with an earthy undertone. The flavor is very similar and starts off on the earthy side, but quickly transitions to a more minty and refreshing side.

At first the mint and lime notes are subtle, but after a few sips, they become strong and the dominant flavors in the finish and aftertaste. This creates a very pleasant and refreshing aftertaste which combined with the dry mouth effects from the caffeine gives the sensation of freshly brushed teeth.

Though the pomegranate is one of the main flavors, I found that it was a bit too subtle for me and didn't come out until well in the aftertaste when the earthiness and mint have subsided a bit. I frankly don't mind this since I do enjoy the earthy, mint and lime note on their own. However, those expecting a strong pomegranate flavor will be a bit disappointed.

Taste - 9.2/10

Apple Cinnamon Black

The Apple Cinnamon Black tea is a blend of South Indian flower orange pekoe black tea, cinnamon chips, apple pieces, cinnamon flavor, apple flavor and caffeine. The apple aroma is very strong from the moment you open the tin of tea to the moment you finish the tea. The cinnamon is also present and gives the tea a spicy depth and also makes you think about apple pie a bit.

The taste is a little bit different as it starts off with orange pekoe and ends on the apple/cinnamon blend, which lingers well into the aftertaste. The apple is the more dominant of the two, however, the cinnamon is the one that lingers the longest.

I loved the aroma of this tea, however, I thought that the flavor could have been stronger to really make you want to get out of the house and find an apple/cinnamon turnover or an apple pie.

Taste - 8.5/10


The delicious flavors are one thing, but since this is a caffeine blog, I have to be extra critical of the energy effects.

Since this is tea and there is no sugar (OK, I am sure there is a very tiny natural amount) I did not expect a quick jittery boost and did not get one. The effects were a bit delayed, but they started to show themselves after 1/3 of a cup and 20 minutes later.

I started to feel more alert and focused and this lasted for about 20 minutes when the caffeine started to really kick in. I was surprised how energetic I felt at first because I was drinking tea, but then I remembered that there are 150 mg of caffeine in the cup I was holding.

Once the caffeine had fully kicked in, the effects were very similar to a strong cup of coffee or a large can of energy drink, minus most of the jitters. Sure, there was still some jitters from the quantity of caffeine that was coursing through my veins, but it felt more under control. Once the jitters subsided, I felt great - I was energized and still semi-focused. These effects lasted for about 3-4 hours and there was no crash at the end. However, I was a bit sad that I didn't have any of this tea with me at work. Maybe next time I will remember to bring some.

The green tea has slightly less caffeine at around 140 mg per cup, however the effects are very similar once the caffeine has been fully absorbed. One thing I liked better about the green tea were the initial effects - there is less of the jitters.

Overall Impressions

I loved the entire line of Zest Tea Energy Blends. The teas all felt premium, tasted great and had an impressive and unexpected kick that gives energy drinks and coffee a run for their money. My favorite of the bunch was definitely the Earl Grey with the Blue Lady coming in a close second. If you like tea, but also need that caffeine kick in the morning, I strongly recommend you try Zest Tea.

Cost - $14.95 for a tin of 20
Energy - 8.7/10

Overall - from 17.2/20 to 18.4/20

P.S. Since I don't have any loose leaf tea on this blog to compare Zestea against, the scoring was done against normal tea blends.

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