Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Decaffeinated Flavored Teas: Why Not Just An Herbal Blend?

I'm both a huge fan and major advocate of loose-leaf leaf, and I will jump on any opportunity to guide casual tea bag drinkers in the direction of high quality loose tea. It's no secret that part of my agenda behind creating RateTea is to draw in people who may have only ever tried the mainstream brands of tea available in the supermarket, and show them what the world of loose tea has to offer. But I still feel compelled to write about the mainstream brands from time to time, and now is one of those times.

The other day, I sampled Bigelow's Decaffeinated Constant Comment for the first time. This tea made me ask myself the question: Why? Bigelow's normal Constant Comment is, in my opinion, the best of their flavored teas, and I also think their Orange & Spice Herbal Tea is decent. These three teas are all quite similar, and as I wrote in my review of the decaf Constant Comment tea, I have a hard time understanding why someone would choose that tea over the caffeine-free herbal orange spice blend, which has a very similar overall profile but is bolder and more flavorful.

It's no secret that decaffeination processes extract flavor in addition to the caffeine. Decaf flavored teas tend to be better than decaf pure teas for the simple reason that the flavoring can be added or blended in after the decaffeination process has been carried out, thus leaving the additional flavoring intact. But...given how bland most decaf tea is, if you really want to avoid caffeine, why not just drink an herbal blend based on the flavoring or whatever herbs have been blended in, without any tea?

I guess, everyone has different tastes, and I'm sure there are those who really do like something about the flavor or aroma that decaf tea has to offer. But this is my own personal preference, and I'll continue to only sample these decaf teas out of curiosity, not because I really enjoy them. (Although I am still open to being proven wrong, something that has yet to happen.)


  1. One decaf tea I have found that I can't tell too much loss of flavor in is BourgeaTea's Decaf Raspberry blend. It is one of the most flavorful raspberry teas I have ever had! I am with you on most of your points though. The decaffeinating process really steals a lot of the flavor out of the tea! It is somewhat disappointing, especially when I see a decent quality loose leaf tea that is decaf. It lowers the standard even before I try it.

  2. The title of this article makes a very nice slogan!

  3. Thanks for giving Bigelow Tea's decaf teas a try! It's true, some people prefer herbal teas when they are opting for no caffeine, but many people "can't live without" some of our signature blends -- even if they want them without caffeine. Providing decaf versions makes everyone happy! All the best,
    Deb for Bigelow Tea

  4. Any time! I'm a loose tea and pure tea enthusiast, but I have to give Bigelow's tea bags some credit for my movement in this direction. A number of months ago I wrote a post, how I got interested in tea in which I talked about how trying all of the Bigelow flavored and herbal teas that were offered in Oberlin College's dining hall was important in developing my palate and getting me to think about tea.

    My favorite tea at the time was the sweet dreams herbal tea; this is still my favorite herbal tea from Bigelow and I actually prefer it to a number of other more expensive blends. I also find it to be a unique blend, there's noting else I've tried that is anything like it.