Product Review: Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger Caffeine Free Herbal Tea

The fifth and final flavor in my Celestial Seasonings variety pack, Raspberry Zinger didn’t sound so great to me. I’m not too keen on the taste of raspberries in general, but sometimes I’m in the mood for them, and if this tea were sweet enough, I could see maybe wanting a cup once every several months or so.

Sadly, it isn’t. It’s tangy and a bit sour, and they seem to have focused on the flavor elements in raspberry that I like the least. I do think this is very much a matter of taste — I doubt the tea is bad, it just tastes bad to me. Raspberry fans might find this tea to be tasty, but I won’t be buying it again. Even a packet of sugar didn’t help much, though it was much better than the black cherry berry.

Three stars out of five.

Product Review: Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Apple Zinger Caffeine Free Herbal Tea

The fourth of the five teas in my variety pack, this one surprised me. Based on the name, I expected something tart and possibly a little bit sour (depending on what type of apples were used), but that assumption proved totally unfounded.

The cranberry apple flavor is actually quite sweet, reminding me of apples and cinnamon more than cranberries and sour apples. It’s the sort of tea you’d want to drink on a snowy winter day while sitting in front of the fireplace — you know, if you didn’t have any hot chocolate at the time. 😀 It would make a good dessert tea, and I may try it out that way soon — I’ve had this idea floating around in my head lately about sweetening tea with a little bit of vanilla ice cream instead of a sugar packet. Cranberry Apple Zinger is certainly a good candidate for that!

Four and a half stars out of five. Highly recommended for those with a sweet tooth and a love of sweet apple flavors.

Movie Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I wanted to see this since the first one was decent and my main complaint about it was that they had to spend too much time on establishing the characters. I figured since they wouldn’t have to introduce everyone this time, they could actually tell a story this time. 😉

Rise of the Silver Surfer is the story of how the Fantastic Four face a global threat that arrives unexpectedly on the wedding day of Reed Richards and Susan Storm — the Silver Surfer. The Surfer, a man whose entire body is silver, arrives on Earth astride a flying intergalactic surfboard. He begins punching craters in the Earth, preparing it for its ultimate destruction in only eight days. The Fantastic Four must abandon their plans and challenge the Silver Surfer, learn his mission, and discover a way to prevent the Earth from being destroyed.

This one starts out slow — for about the first half hour I was thinking, “gee, this movie could use a plot”. The writers seemed to enjoy the characters a little too much, wanting to show off the clever everyday uses they’ve come up with for their powers.

But eventually, things picked up and they got to the plot, and it was indeed a better movie than the previous one since the characters had already been introduced. It was nice seeing the characters use their powers and catch phrases more comfortably, rather than with the experimental tone they had in the first movie. There were some funny lines and amusing quips, some cool action sequences, and some awesome technology. Von Doom fans will be glad to know that he makes his return in RotSS, and those who are already familiar with the Surfer and know what his arrival portends can rest assured that his role has not been altered for the movie. I loved the Stan Lee cameo in this movie, much funnier than in the first one.

Overall, this was a good Marvel movie — not a great one, but a good one, and better than its predecessor. Three and three quarters stars out of five.

See this movie if you’re in the mood for a fun superhero story and don’t mind a little ramp-up time before it gets going.

Product Review: Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Caffeine Free Herbal Tea

I had heard good things about this tea from a friend, so I picked some up last time I was looking for something caffeine-free. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it, except that it should be relaxing.

Tension Tamer has a complex flavor with several different herbs. The taste is mild and relaxing, with a muted peppermint being the only thing I can identify in it. (It also contains catnip, which just makes me want to see what happens if a cat drinks it…) One downside I noticed is that although it’s very good hot, it tastes awful when it gets cold. I’ve had a couple of cups of this now, and I find it fairly enjoyable, and it does seem to help me stay relaxed (although I have yet to try it out at a time when I’m feeling particularly stressed, so I’m not sure how well it works as a remedy).

This is a good caffeine-free tea, and I will likely purchase it again. Four stars out of five.

Product Review: Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion Caffeine Free Herbal Tea

Another tea from the variety pack I bought. I like peaches, and this was the best-sounding tea in the package aside from the cherry one. I went in expecting it to be tasty and sweet. 

Fortunately, that’s exactly what is was. Another aromatic, fruit-flavored tea that’s good for sipping in the evening as bedtime approaches and caffeinated teas could be problematic. Sweetened with one packet of sugar, this warm peachy beverage was good to have at hand last night while I was working on my web site. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and look forward to having another cup soon.

Four stars out of five.

Product Review: Celestial Seasonings Tangerine Orange Zinger Caffeine Free Herbal Tea

This is one of the other flavors in the variety pack that included the black cherry berry. Not being one to let such things go to waste, I started sampling the other flavors in the package.

Tangerine Orange Zinger has a tangy-sweet flavor, and you can definitely make out both flavors. It has a good balance of orange and tangerine, and is strong enough without being overbearing. This is a good cup of tea for the evening when caffeine tends to be less welcome. It came as quite a surprise to me after trying the black cherry berry that this tea, in a flavor that sounded less to my liking, was so much better.

Four stars out of five.

A good tea if you like fruit flavors and want something caffeine-free.

Product Review: Celestial Seasonings Black Cherry Berry Caffeine Free Herbal Tea

This tea was purchased as part of a Celestial Seasonings variety pack, with five different types of fruit teas. I bought it mainly for this flavor — again with the cherry.

I very much regretted my purchase as soon as I tasted the tea. Even with sugar in it, it has a sour flavor which tastes nothing like cherries, nor, for that matter, like berries. It does seem vaguely fruity, in an artificial, almost chemical sort of way, but it is not pleasant to drink.

The only nice things I can say about it are that it was not so bad that I couldn’t force myself to finish the cup, and that when I’d finished drinking it, it stayed down.

One quarter of a star out of five, for not actually being poison.

Avoid this tea at all costs. (Please bear in mind that this tea is not representative of Celestial Seasonings’ products. They have other flavors that I quite enjoy, this particular one just happens to be disgusting.)

Product Review: Bigelow Vanilla Chai Tea

I’ve been drinking this tea every morning for about a week now. It’s currently my black tea of choice. I’ve only had chai a few times before, and I’ve discovered that I like sweet chai but not spicy chai (no surprise there), so I decided to try this one hoping that it would be in the former category.

The tea is not as flavorful as I’d expected, even with long brew times and going easy on the milk. The sweet chai I’ve had in the past had both a much stronger flavor and a much higher degree of sweetness (though this may be my own fault for not using enough sugar). I was hoping for a recreation of that experience, and this tea didn’t give me that. Perhaps I shall try some other varieties of bagged chai to see if they are closer to the taste of the professionally-prepared chai I’ve had in the past. It may also be worth noting that I’m using the “Quick Method” instructions, not the “Authentic Method”, which may well make a difference.

On the other hand, evaluated on its own merits instead of how it compares to other chais I’ve had, this tea is quite good. The spices lend it a pleasant mild flavor and aroma, and it is quite enjoyable to sit and sip. The fact that chai is served with milk cools it quickly to a nice temperature so that you don’t have to wait around or risk burning your tongue (I tend to be impatient about getting that first cup of tea in the morning). It works quite well for waking me up, and I definitely plan to purchase it again, although I will likely buy something else I haven’t tried first and return to this tea later.

Overall, this is a mild but flavorful tea with many good qualities. If you like strong chai, you might find this variety too weak, but if a mild sweet flavor with an overtone of spices is to your liking, you won’t go wrong with Bigelow Vanilla Chai. Three and three-quarters stars out of five — if it were a little stronger and a little sweeter, I’d go to four.

This one very much depends on your tastes.

Product Review: Republic of Tea Spring Cherry Beginner’s Mind Green Tea

This tea has been one of my favorites for many years, since I first discovered it on the menu at Orchard Valley Coffee in downtown Campbell. When I spotted it, I knew I had to try it, given my love of all things cherry. 

I was not disappointed. This is a mild green tea with a sweet cherry flavor that you can smell as soon as the bag drops in the water. I usually take my tea with a lot of sugar, but this tea is so naturally sweet that I drink it with only one spoonful or sometimes without adding any at all. At around $10 for 50 bags, it’s around 20 cents a cup (less if you re-use tea bags), which is a lot cheaper than drinking soda, and better for you too (although this will be true of tea in general, not just this variety). I can’t think of anything negative to say about this tea, except perhaps that after I finish a cup, I usually want another one!

Five stars out of five. This is my favorite kind of tea, and it’s my tea of choice between noon an 4 PM (I drink black tea before noon for the caffeine, and only drink caffeine-free tea after 4 so I can sleep at night).

Bonus Review: Republic of Tea Acerola Cherry Green Tea (Superfruit Tea)

Everything I said about the first tea applies to this tea as well, except for the bit about how I discovered it. In fact, I’m not convinced that there’s actually a difference between the two…

Movie Review: The Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Four was on my list because it’s a Marvel movie. Most of the Marvel movies have been good adaptations of their comics, as well as being an enjoyable introduction for those who are unfamiliar with the title making the jump to the big screen. With that in mind, I sat down to see if The Fantastic Four lived up to the standard set by the other Marvel titles.

The Fantastic Four is the story of scientist Reed Richards’s venture into space and how it changed his life, and the lives of his companions, forever. Richards wanted to perform an experiment aboard a vessel belonging to businessman Victor von Doom. Accompanying Richards and von Doom on the mission were fellow scientist Susan Storm, an employee of von Doom’s and the woman he hopes to marry (also Richards’ ex-girlfriend), pilot Johnny Storm (Susan’s brother), and Richards’ bodyguard Ben Grimm. Things go awry when a solar storm strikes the vessel hours ahead of schedule, catching the group unprepared. All five are subjected to the storm’s radiation, and return to Earth immediately, only to discover that they have returned a little bit different from how they were when they left. All five have developed superpowers. As the others begin studying their powers to see how they work and whether the process can be reversed, von Doom revels in his power and begins making plans for how to eliminate the Fantastic Four, as they come to be known when they use their superpowers in public for the first time.

The movie was slow in parts, mainly because there was a awful lot of build-up and character introduction and development to be done. It sort of felt like this movie was too much origin story, not enough action. Forgivable, I suppose, given that it WAS an origin story. Other than that, there’s not much bad I can say about it, except that it just didn’t have that certain awesomeness that I’ve enjoyed in some of the other Marvel movies.

On the plus side, it was a fun comic book movie with some funny lines and a couple of good action sequences, and it was a good introduction to the characters. It’s nice seeing scientists portrayed as heroes, as so often it’s the mad scientist who appears as a villain. Johnny Storm was a particularly entertaining character, a little too cocky for his own good, but funny enough to get away with it.

Overall, it was a solidly middle-of-the-road Marvel movie. Nothing special, but worth seeing if you enjoy the genre. I should perhaps note that while I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the Fantastic Four, I also don’t follow their comic book titles, so I may have missed things that would upset hardcore F4 fans. Three and a half stars out of five.

See it if you like comic book movies.