You may recall that back in January I had the pleasure of interviewing NASCAR legend Joe Nemechek about his foray into the tea industry. Before speaking with Mr. Nemechek, NASCAR racing and tea seemed like a curious combination. But as I learned during my conversation with him, the two are surprising well suited to each other given the importance of hydration when racing. Another discovery I made during my interview was that Mr. Nemechek prefers unsweetened tea, a fact I found particularly unusual given that he is from the South.
During the intervening months since the interview, I made a point of keeping in touch with Mr. Nemechek’s publicist. After all, the story would not be complete without a tea tasting. Sure enough, a couple of weeks ago, a large box arrived in the mail filled with an assortment of Herbal Mist teas, including two bottles of Joe Nemechek’s Special Edition (#87) Unsweetened Tea.
Let me begin by saying that I am not a big bottled tea drinker – in fact, I could leave out the adjective “big” altogether. I don’t drink bottled tea – period, which reminds me of a story. Back in 2007, we were visiting Cape Cod to attend our niece’s wedding. Our first day there, we stopped by a restaurant for some late lunch. Seeing as it was rather warm, I decided to order iced tea. I was thirsty, so as soon as it arrived, I took a gulp. Just as quickly, I had to restrain myself from spitting it out. It tasted awful! When I complained to the server, she said, “You know, we have had a number of complaints about the iced tea.” I was gobsmacked. Regaining my composure, I suggested, “I think it might be time to throw it out.”
I offer that story in contrast to my experience with the Herbal Mist teas I received. I began, of course, with Joe Nemechek’s Special Edition (#87) Unsweetened Tea. For those of you in the market for a low-calorie beverage, you will be pleased to learn that this one has zero calories, thanks to the absence of any sweetener. Its ingredients include Paraguayan yerba mate, filtered water, black tea, and citric acid. Per the instructions, I shook the bottle well before pouring the tea into a cup without ice. The moment of truth had arrived – I took my first sip. It reminded me of a good Ceylon black tea. Just tea. No aftertaste. I loved it.
My positive experience with Mr. Nemechek’s signature tea gave me the courage to sample the four other Herbal Mist teas I had received. Here are the results:
- Mango Tea with Yerba Mate (Paraguayan yerba mate, filtered water, cane sugar, citric acid, black tea, and natural mango flavor with other natural flavors) – I could both smell and taste the mango as well as a buttery taste that was quite pleasing. The amount of sweetener was just right for me, but I have to admit I have a sweet tooth.
- Lemon Tea with Yerba Mate (Paraguayan yerba mate, filtered water, cane sugar, citric acid, black tea, and natural lemon flavor) – A strong lemon scent comes through when you open the bottle, but that scent diminishes in the taste. Less sweet than the Mango Tea, but a nice balance of flavors.
- Half & Half with Yerba Mate (Paraguayan yerba mate, filtered water, cane sugar, citric acid, black tea, lemon juice solids, and natural lemon flavors) – “Half & Half” thankfully does not refer to milk and cream, but rather to tea and lemonade. This is Herbal Mist’s version of the Arnold Palmer. Although similar to their Lemon Tea with Yerba Mate, this tea has a stronger lemon punch.
- Diet Peach Tea with Yerba Mate (Paraguayan yerba mate, filtered water, xylitol, citric acid, black tea, natural peach flavor with other natural flavors, and stevia) – I usually love peach teas and peach juice, but this one is not my cup of tea. The peach flavor does not come through and is replaced by a woody taste. Perhaps it has something to do with the sweeteners in this tea – xylitol and stevia – which were introduced to reduce the calories to zero.
Overall, my faith in bottled teas has been restored, thanks to Herbal Mist. Personally, I would stay away from the Diet Peach, but the others are well worth a taste. So visit the Herbal Mist website and find a spot selling their products near you. No wonder Herbal Mist garnered a First Place at this year’s North American Tea Championship.
Images provided by the author.