Only recommended if you’ve been stranded on a desert island for six months, get rescued and the rescuers offer you a cup.
I’ve had two cups with milk for studying tonight, since I’m between finals (both of which are horrible and terrible and all sorts of other superlatives). I’ll have at least two more before I finish studying. Tomorrow, I’ll take a cup to my molecular biology final to ease my terror of homologous replication.
The purpose of writing an analysis of Lipton Hot Tea is simply twofold. First, in order to establish a baseline for my analyses (past and present) in order to facilitate the practical utility of my reviews. Nearly everyone, I imagine, has had Lipton Hot Tea at some point, so they can use this review to calibrate their understanding of how I taste, describe, and analyze tea. This makes it easier to relate to other reviews, which are approached in a similar manner. The second purpose of analyzing Lipton Hot Tea is simply for the sake of completeness—it is a tea I frequently drink due to the price and convenience, but even moreso for the incredible adaptability of this tea with regard to the accommodation of additives.
Lipton Hot Tea bags can make nice tea that is very simple to prepare and basically impossible to screw-up. The brew tastes better, I think, the longer the leaves are stewed (at least five minutes) in near-boiling water. The tea lends itself surprisingly well to blending with other additions and spices, as I discuss later. Lipton Hot Tea is a black tea that, in my sample, comes in a box of 100 individually-packaged teabags. The teabags are typical teabags, nothing special.
Deconstructing a teabag, the teabag contains approximately one teaspoon of pekoe-grade black tea. I won’t even attempt to decipher the blend. The leaves are the color of chocolate, mulch, and dried chilies. The average color is the color of dark chocolate shavings, with an occasional straw-colored piece scattered throughout. The fragrance of the dried leaves is slightly sour and malty with a slight sweetness—reminds me of dark rye bread. The texture of the leaves is uniform, dry, and brittle—but they do leave an oily residue when rubbed between the fingertips. The oils released by the dried leaves have a slight vegetal and malty fragrance.
The brewed liquor—when the leaves are stewed for excessive periods of time over five minutes, as I prepare it—has a deep, dark, rusty brown color with a deep, dusty-orange tint. The average color is comparable to some pu-erhs I have had before. The longer and stronger the brew is stewed, the deeper the color, aroma, and flavor becomes, and I don’t find that adding more leaves or over-brewing degrades the product in any way.
The aroma of the brew is malty and vegetal with a metallic sharpness on the front-end that I would be tempted to call “arcane”—but that, perhaps, is too suggestive. It is certainly a unique and sharp aroma (I think the company line is “brisk”) that, to my experience, is unique to Lipton Hot Tea. The aroma of the back-end is smooth and vegetal, in peculiar contrast with the initial sharpness.
When brewed according to my particular mode, the result is very smooth in flavor. (A complete divergence from the flavor profile obtained through a more “conventional” brewing method.) The beginning flavor is smooth and silky with a hint of vegetal, malty and metallic sharpness—and a little sweet. The middle flavors are vegetal, a hint of bitterness, a little metallic, and a sweet maltiness on the tip of the tongue. The aftertaste is slightly vegetal and gently malty and sweet. (In a way, reminds me of a stout—just a little bit.) The overall taste is smooth, rather subtle, and leaves a walnut-like impression, although no flavor component is explicitly “walnut” or “nutty” on inspection. The mouthfeel—especially as the brew cools—is silky, and gives the impression of body.
Because of the subtlety of this tea it is hard to limit the pairing options. In practice, I have paired it with practically everything, and not had anything to complain about. I doubt this tea presents a “best pairing” for any particular dish, but the tea seems very versatile and provides many good pairings. My favorite pairings for this tea include fried foods, yeast-rolls, potato salad, and the tea also acts well as a palette-cleanser after vinaigrette-dressed salads (goes well after anything with vinegar in it, actually), Lasagna, and beer-braised bratwurst with sauerkraut, and the like.
Perhaps my favorite quality of Lipton Hot Tea is its compatibility with additives. I highly recommend infusing any of the following with two or more Lipton Hot Tea bags per 4-6 cups of near-boiling water:
– 1 pod Star Anise
– 1 generously-sized sprig of fresh Rosemary
– 1 generously sized sprig of fresh Mint (any variety works, including Chocolate Mint)
– 1 pod Green Cardamom (seeds removed and crushed gives stronger flavor than stewing the whole pod)
– 1-2 stick(s) “Cinnamon” (Cassia)
– 1 stick Cinnamon/Cassia + 1 pod Green Cardamom + simmered Whole Milk to taste = a delightful chai! (Although I actually prefer this last recipe with Red Rose, Lipton is still good, and the sharpness enhances the flavor of the Green Cardamom more. For a Lipton preparation, you may wish to add another stick of Cinnamon.)
I fully anticipate there being many other wonderful spice-infusions that can be successfully combined with Lipton Hot Tea, so please experiment! (And please let me know if you find find something particularly eye-opening. I love trying new things.)
I have refrained and resisted from rating this tea because its underwhelming reputation has done enough damage to the name “Lipton.” Or has it? This poor excuse for tea relates to hip/hop in the way that it’s useless and serves no real purpose but also never seems to go away. How can a product be so terrible and have such a poor reputation but continue to pervade store shelves? Anyway, when I’m out to a meal and I order tea I always let them know that if they only provide Lipton to just bring me water or coffee. I would rather drink Tetley filtered through a dirty gym sock. Lipton should be free and never sold. Calling it “tea dust” is a compliment.
Honestly, I don’t know how to rate this tea – I don’t know even when I started drinking tea. My first memory is drinking hot lipton tea out of plastic pink cups with milk and sugar. I drank it when I was little on sunday mornings, in middle school before I had to go to the bus stop, every night coming home from rehearsals. I drank it when I visited my grandparents at the hospital, at family function after family function, and when they died. Lipton Tea to me is just a fact of life. The taste of it is familiar and warm. It’s home really.
I remember buying a box of 16 Lipton “the brisk tea” in New Hampshire when I was 11 or 12. It seemed awesome at the time perhaps a gateway to all my adult habits/pleasures. This would have been in the 1980’s. Either their quality has gone way down or I had a box of particularly fresh tea at the time. There’s even a picture of Neil Young inside an album cover from the early 70’s brewing a cuppa Lipton. I drink tea all the time, but whenever I try Lipton “brisk” it is often stale due to being simply packaged in paper. The tea quality is mediocre at best, but likely stored poorly. Lipton is the Number One tea in places (2 star restaurants, diners and delis) where tea is misbrewed, disrespected, and clearly an afterthought for a beverage. The leaves are greyish black rather than a the robust brown/black color that most good everyday black teas have.
I think that my 11 or 12 year old self loved that box of Lipton Brisk, because he was comparing it to Salada black which was the only comparison. Maybe it was the hand pumped well water in New Hampshire that made that “brisk tea” so memorable.
Boiling quality water is essential for any good tea. Lipton is often served with horrible warmish water in most places that serve it.
Good lord this stuff is awful when served hot. Even when it’s only steeped for 2-3 minutes it tends to become unbearably bitter. For years I thought that I hated tea because of this stuff. That said, I always keep a box on hand for when I want to make some sugar-saturated sweet tea since this serves as a nice, low-cost base for all that saccharine goodness.
It was drinkable.
Edit: This is actually a funny story. The grandparents finally moved into an old folks home (they are in their late 80s now) and I wanted some tea because I’m sick. I was going to go down to the lobby area and get some but of course the grandmother insists she makes it for me. She ends up spending at least 15 minutes making it when I could have gotten it myself in a minute, but they like to feel useful, you know. This comes after spending Christmas with the other grandparents who also watched everything I did and offered to do it for me. I don’t think it’s because they love me, but because they like feeling needed (this grandmother isn’t really my biological grandmother). She touched all my things and to my annoyance cleaned up my steeper and threw away all the tea in it… can you ask me first, ..please?!
Had this at a hospital tonight- only choice, but glad that I at least had a choice besides coffee. It was a tea bag (not loose like the picture) and not bad considering that it’s cheap and generic. For basic black tea it seems to be fine- I drank if straight and it tasted pretty good! My mom has been drinking Lipton tea for as long as I can remember, so I do have a “warm fuzzy” about this tea. :)
This tea is very neutral. It will satisfy one’s craving for a hot beverage, but it’s got a rather uninteresting flavor. I think it’s not really Lipton’s fault, though; straight “hot tea” seems to me sort of tame and wimpy, the milquetoast of tea, the lowly shepherd-boy of teas, the palette-cleanser that you would sip between sampling multiple varieties of “worthy” teas. It’s probably better sweetened, or as a meal accompaniment, rather than a stand-alone beverage.
…But it’s tea. So I must soften my review and give it some love. <3.