Supermarket green tea ratings say supermarket green teas suck

I don’t usually get plain green tea, whether loose or supermarket brands. I’ve had a few which were really good (Big Green Hojicha Green Tea by Republic of Tea was one, kind of nutty, a little like a Glenmaicha, but fresher tasting) but most were pretty boring, which is why I prefer vanilla or jasmine or fruit or something in it. A good one is Bigelow’s Constant Comment Green tea, which is in the supermarket. It’s the same spices as the black Constant Comment that’s been around forever but lighter (i.e., green).

So it’s hard to do taste tests between different brands of flavored green tea, since everybody has different flavors. But I looked up a Consumer Reports taste test of plain green tea just to see what brands are best, according to them. The most recent I could find was 2003, and it contained little but bad news, as far as I was concerned. The winner was Tazo China Green Tips. That’s the Starbucks brand. I don’t want to like it because of that fact, but the truth is that I do, just like I unwillingly like almost everything at Starbucks. I am white and middle class.

But I can complain that Tazo tea is the most expensive brand listed in the report, at 35 cents per bag/cup, and therefore the second-place tea on the list, at 12 cents a bag, sounds like a much better choice to me. It’s TenRen Dragon Well tea, and it sounds good — except that I haven’t seen it in Stop and Shop or Shaw’s around Boston. So I’ve never tried it.

The other teas on the list which are said to be above average are other brands which I don’t typically see, either — Simpson & Vail, Choice Organic Teas, Eden and Stash.

All the types I typically see on the shelves at the supermarket are the ones the Consumer Reports people hated. Comments on Lipton’s green include “wet paper flavor. Slightly sour. Reddish cast (can indicate old tea).” For Salada, they say “Sour, wet paper flavors predominate.” And even for Bigelow and Twinings plain greens, which I’d considered at least decent, the Consumer Reports people advise simply, “Choose another.”

So there you go. Keep in mind the study is eight years old, so maybe it’s totally outdated. But I haven’t seen one since. In the meantime, I’m still going to buy greens with simple, non-fake tasting flavors — Constant Comment, jasmines and lemon-flavored I find are mostly not bad.

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About Don Seiffert

I'm a reporter and writer in the Boston area.
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