Tejava vs. Honest Tea

Last night at the grocery store I struck on an idea for today’s blog: comparing two bottled iced teas (just writing about one feels like a cop-out post). I’m not sure most grocers would stock both of these products, but probably they can be found at Whole Foods and other specialty food stores.

Today I’m drinking Honest Tea‘s Green Dragon Tea with Passion Fruit and Tejava Unsweetened.  For a long time I’ve had a love-hate relationship with iced tea (the kind sold in the US are often brewed too large and too sweet like Arizona), but here are two teas I really enjoy.  Tejava is advertised as “handpicked, microbrewed” as well as unsweetened, so it definitely grabbed my attention.  Easily more refined than Nestea, Tejava is an evenly brewed black with a flavor that matches North American expectations for iced tea; no exotic Javanese texture here.  I don’t think I’ve ever had tea from Indonesia until now, so it’s hard to compare it in terms of makeup.  One thing I particularly like about Tejava is the simplicity of it’s ingredients which are listed as “pure Java tea brewed from water and select Java tea leaves.” It’s possible there’s more to the story than that, but hopefully not. Tejava totes having won first place in the North American Tea Championship for 2011 and 2012. As with most things that claim to be “handpicked” the taste is even and refined, but not necessarily top-notch.  Tejava is sold in plastic bottles that aren’t made from recycled materials.

Honest Tea is both Fair Traded and (at least in this case) USDA approved organic (remember that doesn’t elevate it above the competition just because they insist on throwing down the $10K to get that stamp).  Green Dragon with Passion Fruit is noted as being “just a tad sweet” and that description is apt. I usually don’t brew green teas iced very often, but when I do they often have a crisp, even texture. Brewed to be a bottled iced tea, Green Dragon is far less even. One glance at the ingredients tells us that water and sugar are both more prevalent than green tea (no surprise there), but that lemon juice concentrate and something calling itself “natural passion fruit flavor” (I assume this is referring to the tea used?) are also present. One thing I like about Honest Tea is that it honestly informs us that this tea contains about 1/2 (48.6 mg) the caffeine of coffee. Honest Tea is also proud to be only 60 calories per bottle… which obviously beats out most any sweetened tea, but it’s kind of academic since why tea needs to be sweetened at all has always perplexed me. Green Dragon has a pleasant though complex green, low antioxidant flavor on par with any bottled black tea. Honestly, it’s hard to detect the sugar in this case. Honest Teas are sold both in plastic and glass (in this case I’m drinking the glass variety since they usually taste better).

Oh, and both Honest Tea and Tejava have a 5 cent refund in Maine and Hawaii, which really feels like another incentive to live in one of those two places (though I would want to anyway).

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