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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Cusa Instant Teas > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Cusa Tea

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - September 13, 2017

Long Term Report - December 29, 2017

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking locales have been a combination of Minnesota, where I have lived most of my adult life, and the Southwest where I moved to take a new job in 2009.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  I often bring drink packets on the trail with me, normally electrolyte drinks.

Initial Report

Product Information

Manufacturer: Cusa Tea, Inc.
The company is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.  The website indicates that the teas are sourced in Asia.
All five flavors: English Breakfast, Oolong, Mango Green, Green, Lemon Black
Year of manufacture: 2017
US $9.99 for a variety case of 10 (2 x 5 flavors) with free shipping in the continental USA if three boxes are purchased
Manufacturer website:
Organic tea, fruit & herbs - no preservatives or sweeteners
One size packet available only, makes 12-14 oz (355-414 ml)
Quantity tested:
15 total, 3 x 5 flavors (see photo at left below)
Weight: Listed: not available
Measured: 0.07 oz (2 g) with packaging
Nutritional info:
42-79 mg of caffeine per serving
190-465 mg of tea polyphenols per serving

There is quite a wide range of polyphenols and caffeine level depending on the variety.

Initial Inspection


From the package labeling and the manufacturer's website, the salient features of the product are:
  • Hand-selected, premium organic tea
  • Sourced from smaller farms in remote valleys away from sources of pollution
  • Cold Steep process, "brewing" the tea over 8 hours - doesn't taste like instant
  • Fast/easy prep: no boiling water required, just open the packet and stir into hot or cold water

Of course I had to taste it, so I whipped up a cold glass of the mango green tea (see photo at right above).  It mixed nicely, and there is really very little powder in the packet so I had to be careful not to spill any.  The taste is wonderful!  It really does taste like brewed tea with no chemical aftertaste.


I am looking forward to get the Cusa tea into the field and actually tasting it in the wild.  It's a little inconvenient that a packet makes only a half a bottle of beverage, so it may be a better in-camp drink than something I use for hydration while hiking.

Things I Like So Far:

  • I like the "clean" sourcing - nice to know I am getting just tea and fruit/herbs.
  • Great flavor!  No cloying sweetness.

Things That Concern Me Upfront:

  • Nothing substantial.

Long Term Report

Field Experience

September 28 - October 1
Mogollon Rim, north of Payson, Arizona
3.4 miles (5.5 km) hiking
8 miles (13 km) mountain biking
7000 ft
(2130 m)
Daytime temperatures around 75 F (24 C), nighttime around 38 F (3 C).  Mostly sunny and breezy.
November 10-13, 2017 Gila Wilderness, New Mexico West/Middle Fork Loop 43 miles
(69 km)
5630-7450 ft
(1716-2271 m)
Sunny and unseasonably warm, highs around 70F (21 C), nightly lows to 25F (-4 C)
December 10-13, 2017 Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona Hermit and Tonto 27 miles
(43 km)
2800-6640 ft
(850-2024 m)
Highs around 60 F (15 C), lows near 25 F (-4 C), sunny with light wind

Mogollon Rim Hammock Hang

ct02This was a 4-day "hammock hang", i.e. a car camping get-together of hammock enthusiasts.  We were based out of the Long Valley campground up on the Mogollon Rim, the edge of the Colorado Plateau.  Activities included hiking, cycling, and consumption of far too much food and drink around a campfire.

I mixed two packets of the Lemon Black tea with a not-quite-full Nalgene bottle of water (see photo at left).  This came fairly close to the recommended dilution ratios, and I was pretty thirsty and wanted to re-hydrate.  This was a good level of tea flavor without it being too watery.

Just as with my initial tasting, I was pretty amazed at how much like fresh-brewed tea this tasted.  The black tea was excellent, and the lemon had no tinges of artificial flavors.  Pretty amazing.

I drank this as I walked around on afternoon checking out the various bits of hammock gear on display and chatting with the owners.  It did a great job of keeping my mouth from going dry while my jaws were flapping!

West/Middle Fork Loop

Four-day hike up the West Fork of the Gila, over the mountains and down the other side, then back up the Middle Fork to Little Bear Canyon where I crossed back to my starting point.  I had a cup of the English Breakfast tea for breakfast on the second morning.  It tasted very good, but it did seem to not dissolve 100% and refused to leave the side of my Nalgene bottle (see photo at left).


On the same day I made a full liter (quart) of the Green tea, as I needed to boil water for purification, and I thought I may as well make tea out of it.  It was very thirst quenching despite being pretty hot, but I found that much tea to be a bit too mouth-drying (from the tannins?) to be really pleasurable.  I used three tea packages, and the result is shown above right.  Note that even pouring boiling hot water into my Nalgene refused to dislodge the morning's tea - it didn't come off until I returned home and scrubbed it off vigorously.  There was no big problem with this, just a cosmetic issue.

Overall I was happy I had the Cusa tea with me on the trip - it was a nice change of pace from drinking water, and my morning protein shake shown in the upper left photo.

Grand Canyon's Hermit/Tonto Trails

ct04Four-day, three night backpack in the western portion of the Grand Canyon.  Winds were light, but temperatures dropped to freezing and below as soon as the sun set every night.  Not exactly iced tea weather, but a good opportunity to try some hot tea.

Among other flavors used on this trip, I had the mango green tea as shown in the photo at left one afternoon to warm up after arriving in camp.  As usual, I used two packets to make about 16 oz (0.5 L) of tea.  It was a nice treat - the some what "dry" taste of unsweetened tea goes really well with an energy bar.  The green tea is nice in the afternoon because it has a low amount of caffeine, so it doesn't keep my awake at night.

I appreciated the lightweight tea packaging on this trip: it weighed almost nothing, and the spent packaging took up very little space in my trash bag for the hike out.

On this trip I also figured out my preferred method for opening the tea packets: I just ripped the top off completely.  This meant I had two pieces to stow in my trash bag, but they are so small it is of no consequence.


Bottom line: a great product for the iced tea aficionado.  I liked all the flavors I tasted.  The fruit flavors I thought were quite light - the fruit did not mask the tea flavor for me.

Good stuff:

  1. Excellent flavor, and a nice variety so I didn't get sick of any one particular taste.
  2. No artificial sweeteners: it was nice to drink something that cut the sweetness of my energy bars.
  3. Packaging is lightweight and small: there is no penalty in weight or bulk for taking this product on a backpacking trip.  I found the packages quite easy to open as long as I was not wearing gloves, as I needed my fingernails to get things started.
  4. Does not require hot water for preparation of cold tea.

Could be better:

  1. Did experience some "stickiness" to the side of my Nalgene bottle.
  2. A tea bag from the grocery costs far less and is almost as easy to make hot tea with.  This is why, for my purposes, I see this product most useful as a cold beverage where it would take a much longer period of time to prepare with a tea bag.

Thanks to and Cusa Tea for the opportunity to contribute to this test.

Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Cusa Instant Teas > Test Report by Kurt Papke

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