Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Review: Stash's Raspberry Tea

I really love tea sampler packs. I, the beleaguered consumer suffering under the yoke of rising food prices, don't need to commit myself to a one-flavor box of potentially undrinkable teas. When I invest in a tea sampler, my dwindling tea budget is spared an unnecessary hit and I get the benefit of another six or eight reviews at rock bottom prices. Everybody wins. Unless the whole box and every variety sucks. A bit of beer snobbery for a moment, but a sampler 6 pack from Sam Adams is still going to taste like a box of flavorless macro brew, whether there is one flavor, six or fourteen. It's all made with low quality, high volume in mind. Picking the Stash sampler pack from the shelf, then, was a defense mechanism as much as it was an act of curiosity. It is a guard against regrettable tea expenditures, but still exposes me to the very real possibility that all the teas therein are bad.

I am happy to report that at least one or two of these teas do not fall in with the rest of the sampler pack's miserable crowd. Behold, the diamond in the rough - Stash's Wild Raspberry Tea! A stolid commitment to sugar and spice with every sip, using the Raspberry as a cheap puppet in the name of natural goodness. Let’s get into the details.


A fair 4 minute steep produces a deep rose and purple colored brew. With all these tisanes turning out so murky I suspect I’m using too much tea, too much time or too little water, but according to the manufacturer’s instructions everything where it needs to be. So, I will accept that my tea looks like a shade of haunted pomegranate juice and be done with it.

The aroma is predictably sweet, but less predictably floral. And like the Stash’s blueberry tea has a janitorial edge. The fragrance is closely related to cheap bath soaps and the invasive cloud of scents from upscale mall candle stores; altogether unpleasant but tolerable. It’s the kind of smell one associates with open houses, unused guest bathrooms and surplus economy spending. Why stop buying at the necessities? Pick up a few charming ocean spray and citrus bath balls too and throw fiscal management to the wind. Yes, these are the memories evoked by Stash’s Wild Raspberry tea. A shame, too, since actual raspberries don’t seem to factor in. Perhaps, maybe, with the sensitivity million dollar German made scientific instruments, you can pick up the faintest peep of raspberry flavor. But it’s too small to really notice without disciplined focus. Does Stash deserve disciplined focus? No, so don't go straining any cranial veins in a quest to discover a deeper Raspberry flavor that isn't there.

Otherwise there is a tinny sweetness to it, some artificial raspberry syrup a la snow cone and an edible soapiness. If your average consumer was told that this wasn't so much a raspberry tisane as it was a brand new and curiously flavored sweet drink it would be far more accurate. I don't consider this tea. Maybe a sugar shot, maybe an "elixir" but not a tea. Like the Stash Blueberry tea this is very appropriate for the evening hours where an appreciatively delicious cup of Pouchong will come with late night insomnia and a following day of miserable work. If a hot beverage is needed to couple with a good read then maybe this is the tea to fill the order. The flip side to the sampler pack is, once you've found the tea you kinda like, there's no more of it left.


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