Fair Trade Tea Tasting: Zhena’s Gypsy Tea

I wake up in the morning pretty groggy, and the shower’s enough to keep me awake for a few minutes after I step out but like much of America, I need something more than water to keep me going through the day. I’d like to think it’s not true, but I probably am a caffeine-addict with my own alternative to a five dollar cup of coffee every morning – I kick start my day with tea.

I like to think though that I’m not a simple addict, but instead, a tea-connoisseur (ah, the semantics of denial) and have always gone out of my way to drink teas that appeal to me instead of simply getting a regular morning caffeine fix. Generally, this comes in the form of a single-estate tea I’ve either randomly picked up doing groceries – or when I’m particularly feeling curious, over the Internet.

Courtesy of Zhena's Gypsy Tea

I’ve also, less occasionally, dabbled my hand in flavored teas, where the interest isn’t so much in preserving the unique taste of tea from a particular estate but instead in the actual additional flavoring. Although it would be a break from routine, a sampler tin of 16 tea-bags (of four different flavors) caught my eye when I had to pick up a few groceries last week. What particularly perked my attention wasn’t the variety of flavors, or the colorful nature of the stacked tins, but the catchwords with which this tea were labeled: “fair trade” and “organic”. As I turned it over to the other-side, I also found that the tea was kosher. I couldn’t really place my finger on the relevance of the ‘kosher’ tag though as I always thought that such a label would only be applicable to products in some way derived from animals and they haven’t started putting bacon in tea just yet. “Meh”, I thought, “I’ll give em a try.”

[ad name=”Go-MM-LgSquare”]Now I’ve found that a lot of companies that seem to be banking on catch-phrases like these are able to push mediocre products under the guise of environmental concern. Sure, you feel good about buying these products as alternatives to whatever habit dictates, but not so much about actually using them. Either they take from quality or they add to already exorbitant prices in exchange for a few words to soothe your conscience. It was with this skeptical outlook that I approached Zhena’s Gypsy Tea for the first time, but the ever-curious and ever-thriftless American consumer that I am, lack of experience couldn’t dissuade me.

For once though, curiosity didn’t kill the cat, rather, revitalized and satisfied it. So far I’ve only had the Raspberry Earl Grey from my four tea sample tin, and I have to say, in spite of my skepticism and certain minor concerns, I found myself pleasantly surprised.  It was a little stronger than some other flavored teas although it was clearly labeled as such on the tin (though it wasn’t quite as strong as the tea I normally have). The flavor itself was very noticeable and very different from most other flavored teas I’ve tried, in a good way of course, and the aroma only complimented that taste. In summary, I can’t wait to try the next flavor.

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