Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Review: Celestial Seasonings' Acaí Mango Zinger

Celestial Seasonings' line of Zinger teas is in a class all by itself. Literally. You wouldn't know it if you drank it hot, but the Zingers are engineered to be just as good, if not better, served cold. They put this into practice at their factory where, amongst the free samples of tea available in the tour waiting room, a customer can take a steaming cup of hot tea, or one of two different species of sweetend Zingers. Chilled, of course.

"When the dog days of summer start to wear you down, freshen up with the lively and revitalizing flavor of a Celestial Seasonings Zinger® on ice! Each of these delicious, caffeine free teas sparkles with the tart and tangy taste and ruby-red color of hibiscus and other delicious, all-natural ingredients.

You know these teas taste great hot, but you may not know that a chilled glass of flavorful Zinger tea is a glass of pure refreshment. Simply brew your tea in a heat-resistant container and add ice. Drink in relief from the summer heat-it's just moments away!"

The first tour I took at Celestial Seasonings was precluded by at least a dozen tiny paper cups worth of Berry Zinger, and my bladder punished me for it the whole way through. But it was good, and those lingering memories surfaced when I opened up the box of Acai Mango Zinger. The vibrant, tropical box art is a good tip-off. Everything about this tea exudes swaying palm trees and pasty tourists in tacky swim wear. Let's look at the information.

The box, lurking in the shadows.

Ooh, Brazil.

"Rich, healthful Acaí berries from the Brazilian rainforests, juicy mangos and the trademark zing of hibiscus create a unique taste sensation in Acaí Mango Zinger. For centuries, natives of the rainforest have relied on the antioxidants and other essential nutrients naturally present in the ancient Acaí berry for daily energy. Now you can liven up your day with this exotic tea, which is delicious hot or iced. Take a trip down the mighty Amazon with every sip!"

The odds and ends.

"Hibiscus, rosehips, orange peel, natural Acaí berry and mango flavors with other natural flavors, blackberry leaves, Acaí berry fruit and Acaí berry purée."

Hibiscus? How regal. Rosehips? Don't even know what those are. Orange peel? Too dry. Acai berry? Exotique! "Other natuval flavors"? Curiously vague. Blackberry leaves? Because we couldn't afford the blackberries. And then more Acai. Also, where exactly do the "mango flavors" come from? Hmm...

Liquor & Appearance: Brewed at five minutes the Acai Mango Zinger takes on a deep red, nigh crimson pomegranate red. This confused me. Mangoes, to all recollection, have a yellow flesh. Acai berries I wasn't so sure, so I gave them the benefit of a Google image search. This yielded a charming photo of what appeared to be a cross between blueberries and black olives - round, opal black and polished looking. Using the long standing and faultless tool of science - process of elimination - I skillfully determined that it is indeed the Acai berry that is bleeding for the rich, deep rose color of the tea.


A handful of the stuff.

Raw Aroma: Tangy, sour and a bit too pungent for my nose. Mango is present in excess.

Steeped Aroma: Definitively a medley of tropical aromas - mango is the paramount player, identifiable by its distinct sweet and sour flavor. The mango possesses another charming trait - black pepper. Ever since I started giving my nose a daily regimen of black pepper to feast on (one of my favorite smells in the world) I've becoming particularly sensitive to anything remotely like it. It appears in the stranges places. For example, the mango. It's not entirely clear where the Zinger gets its mango flavoring, but wherever it comes from, originating in some mysterious and shady back alley, it brought along the peppery flavor. Like someone bring along a Wii to a party, it's unexpected but entirely welcome. Red grapes and a pinch of cinnamon appear too, but I'm really too busy fawning over the mango's pepper pinch to care.

Flavor & Palate: The Acai Mango Zinger seems a bit lighter than most herbal teas. It tip-toes on the tongue, but like the gaijin on the Tokyo train, it's hard not to notice it's there. That's because while the mango flavor from the scent is well preserved in the taste from the aroma, there is an additional grapefruit acidity. A little zip does the tea no harm though, and blends harmoniously with the mango. The diversity of flavors ends there. A singular character, but not surprising coming from a mass marketed herbal tea. A teaspoon of sugar per cup gives the Acai Mango Zinger a slight glow of caramel apple sweetness, but it feels weak and tepid. Two teaspoons of sugar, a bit excess even for me, brings it to a more noticeable level. But by the time you've finished the mug you're ears turn red and you're jumping around the room like a set of prank chattering teeth.

Currently this review stands incomplete. I have neglected to try the Mango Zinger in its chilled form, but it is not because I was remiss. A chilled tea, no matter how conventional or well within the accepted boundaries of tea preparation, is to me an entirely different drink and currently outside the scope of this blog's well meaning intentions. Iced tea is not Cap & Kettle material, so I will circumscribe the review to the conventionally hot brew form. As such, Celestial Seasonings' fruity concoction ia rather good, if facile. Like the True Bluberry I could easily see this tea gracing a handful of mugs for guests who may not appreciate your fondness for exquisite teas. It's not a crime. We're bound to accomodate this unfortunate aberration, and a tasty grocery store herbal may be the best way to do it.

6 comments:

Mary R said...

Another fine review, and one I'll have to read more closely later. But the quip about not knowing what rosehips are jumped out at me.

Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plants--little, red, bulb-like swellings left after the blossom fades. Anyway, rosehips are chock-a-block full of vitamin C and almost always have a tart taste...not rosy-floral at all. I usually find that something with both hibiscus and rosehips in it are too tart and cover up most of their supporting players.

And that's the random trivia of the day!

Garrett said...

Thanks for the information! That would explain at least some of the tanginess. Trivia is good.

Lita said...

Bom Dia, which means "good morning" in Portuguese, is a darker, tasty blend that is noticeably different from the other Acai juice blends. Bom Dia has three flavors at the time of this writing, Acai Berry with Mangosteen, Acai Berry with Pomegranate, and this unique flavor, Acai Berry with Cacao, which is the seed pod that Cocoa comes from, also from the Amazon rain forest.

Susan said...

Interesting stuff! never heard of an Acai Mango Zinger.

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