Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Review: Stash's Blueberry Tea

If there is anything a bagged tea can do well, it is blueberry tisane. I don't mean that fancy loose leaf merchants can't have a high quality blueberry tea too, only that in a market place where tea bags are almost unanimously bad and insipid, blueberry teas come off rather well. It's a petty victory, like finding an extra mini-muffin in your boxed lunch, but sweet all the same. I first came across this startling discovery with Celestial Seasonings' Blueberry tea, one of only a few from them that recieved better than a wince and a grimace. I had inflated hopes that Stash's, too, would be comparably good. To think: a cheap, affordable bagged tea, caffeine free to fill those open night slots, and with flavor too! Despite my hostility to Stash, I am impressed.

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Beware! The tea is concentrated, and if lifted out of the pouch with haste will pierce your nostrils, dagger like; bloodied. It's sour and strong like drink mix powder and should be immersed in water as soon as possible. After that the screeching tartness subdues into a mellow yet intensely sweet blueberry flavor. It smells like moderately expensive hotel a la fruity carpet cleaner. I don't find this inappropriate as much as its strange. We've all smelled smells like markers, gasoline, benzaldehyde (yum) which we can't really digest but deep down inside we know we'd like to, and in the case of Stash's blueberry tea you get the benefit of a deep syrupy cleaning agent in a cup without the associated guilt or poisoning. Part of this strange Pinesol connection has to do with the tea's cheap lemony scent - handy with Mr. Clean, off-putting in a tisane. I also think a note of macadamia nut comes into play with a neutral richness that anybody who's nourished themselves on these pale Hawaiian nuggets of calories would recognize.

With a 4 minute and 30 second brew time this tea produces a hefty dose of flavor. Witness the abysmal purple color in the mug, the sucker punch of an aroma, and the overall semblance of grape juice concentrate. This stuff is thick and flavorful and, in some situations, too much. The flavor mimics a blueberry snow cone syrup, sweet and intense, but not too cloying. Only slightly cloying. Seriously, in a tisane, that's pretty darn good. I also adore the grape pez flavor. At some point this is no longer tea - more of a sweet herbal potion. You can't really talk yourself into believing it's any kind of healthy once you realize you're sipping on moistened cotton candy.

Given the circumstances, the expense, the general quality and the emprical standard for bagged teas I am, still, very pleased with this tea. I have since learned that turning to Stash, Celestial Seasonings et. al. for standard greens, Oolongs and black teas is a trial in frustration. No matter how much I try to find the market impossible combination of cheap, good quality tea bag tea, I'll never find it. This much is obvious, but like a gambler whittling away his nickels at a po-dunk back alley casino filled with cigarette smoke, I'm hoping that somewhere in this milieu of misery might be a statistically impossible pot of gold. So far, no, but Stash's Blueberry tea is like a comped beer. In the money scheme it's near worthless, and compared to my sought for fortune, it is also worthless, but in a time of drought it's impact is much more than an equivalent bag of loose change.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Guess I'd better steer clear of Stash's fruit teas then.