CUSA INSTANT TEAS
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
November 26, 2017
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
128 lb (58.10 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a canoeing/camping group which made a 10-day voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a few weeks long. Over the past few years I have lowered my pack weight to a lightweight base weight of 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Cusa Tea
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.cusatea.com
MSRP: $9.99 US for 10 servings
Listed Product Weight: 0.04 oz (1.2 g)
Measured Product Weight: 0 oz (1 g); my scale isn't accurate enough to read this low
Measured Packaged Weight: 0.1 oz (2.8 g)
Tea Varieties: English Breakfast, Oolong, Green, Mango Green, Lemon Black, Variety Pack (2 of each)
Varieties Tested: All
Caffeine Content: 42 - 79 g depending on variety
Polyphenol Content: 190 - 465 mg depending on variety
English Breakfast: Contains 77mg of caffeine and 212mg of tea polyphenols per serving
Oolong: Contains 79mg of caffeine and 465mg of tea polyphenols per serving
Green: Contains 65mg of caffeine and 360mg of tea polyphenols per serving
Mango Green: Contains 42mg of caffeine and 384mg of tea polyphenols per serving
Lemon Black: Contains 59mg of caffeine and 190mg of tea polyphenols per serving
Cusa Tea Premium Instant Teas are individually-packed powdered granules designed to taste like brewed tea but with the convenience of being instant. There are five flavors available and a variety pack in order to try all of them. I received all five flavors and am anxious to try them out!
All of the teas are organic and come in individual serving packets similar to those for instant coffee or drink mixes.
The brewing and dehydration process was designed specifically to create an instant tea while maintaining the flavor of a premium tea. The final solution was a cold-brew tea steeping combined with a vacuum crystallization dehydration process. Very interesting!
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
My initial impression was that the tea packaging and size was exactly what I expected based on experience with instant coffees and with what was shown on the website. My favorite tea is English Breakfast with Oolong and Green Teas in a tie for second place. I'm less keen on flavored teas but was happy to see that the Lemon Black and Mango Green only have lemon and mango as the added flavorings and have no so-called natural flavors or other such fake ingredients.
In reading the website I was interested to note that the founder lived in Asia for some time with a keen interest in teas. As an outdoorsman he, like me, lamented the problem of getting a proper cup of tea in the backcountry and thus aimed to solve the problem with an instant tea. Thank you for that!
When I think of instant tea, I think of the largely marketed brands of iced tea which taste unlike any real iced tea that I've ever made and the ingredients aren't wholesome and natural. So, for hot trail drinks, I've resorted to drinking instant coffee (which is now palatable thanks to Starbucks) or the occasional tea bag on shorter trips where I don't mind the extra trash of a wet tea bag. For cold trail drinks, I've sometimes made sun tea atop my pack which is wonderful but again requires carrying lots of used tea bags. So typically, I use some vitamin-enhancing water flavoring packets for my cold drinks. However, at home I would prefer iced tea, so I'd love to have iced tea on the trail too...minus the ice, of course.
Cusa Teas sound like the perfect solution for me. I'm anxious to try out both the hot and cold versions of each flavor!
I started out with a hot cup of the English Breakfast tea since it is my favorite. I opened the packet and poured it into a ceramic mug. I heated water in my tea kettle and poured it atop the tea. It seemed to dissolve instantly and had a little foam rise to the top. After a quick stir, it certainly was dissolved and ready to drink. I let it sit for a few minutes to cool to a reasonable temperature and had a sip. Yum! It smelled and tasted like a quality brewed tea. My husband even commented that it smelled 'right'. The strength of the tea was just right for my liking using approximately 12 oz (355 ml) of water for one tea packet.
I'm not a tea connoisseur but I do like tea enough to know cheap tea bags from a premium loose-leaf tea. This tastes like a better-quality tea for sure. I'm excited to take these on our next hiking adventures!
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Open tea stick and pour into 12 - 14 oz (350 - 415 ml) cup or mug. Pour hot or cold water. Tea may take a little longer to dissolve in cold water, up to 30 seconds.
The Cusa Tea Premium Instant Teas are a convenient way to get a proper cup of tea without carrying tea bag trash in the backcountry.
No tea bag waste
Quality tea leaves
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During this test period I used the teas on one three-day backpacking trip, a four-day camping trip and three overnight trips.
|Iced Lemon Black|
White Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona: overnight; 4 mi (6.4 km); 5,646 to 5,732 ft (1,721 to 1,747 m); 42 to 77 F (6 to 25 C); clear to partly cloudy skies
Hackberry Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah: overnight; 5 mi (8 km); 6,100 to 6,225 ft (1,859 to 1,897 m); 48 to 83 F (9 to 28 C); clear sunny skies
Great Basin National Park, Nevada: overnight, 4 mi (6.4 km); 9,800 to 9,900 (2,987 to 3,018 m); 34 to 52 F (1 to 11 C); clear to dark heavy clouds
Lassen National Park, California: 4 days, 15 mi (24 km); 6,695 to 10,463 ft (2,041 to 3,187 m); 27 to 54 F (-3 to 12 C); mostly clear skies with one very breezy day
Green Lake, West Lake, Par Value Lake, Hoover Wilderness, California: 3 days, 12 mi (19 km); 8,030 to 10,300 ft (2,448 to 3,139 m); 38 to 64 F (3 to 18 C); clear skies with some moderate wind; some off-trail scrambling to upper lakes
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I used five tea packets (one of each flavor) on three different trips.
|Mango Green on trail|
The packaging is similar to other drink mixes and has the type of pouch that opens half-way when the top is torn off. By this I mean that the opening is half of the width of the total pouch. I didn't have any problem with having all of the product dispense out but I wondered if I had gotten it all. I prefer the pouches that open completely across the width so I started tearing them off a little lower to ensure that I was able to pour out all of the tea easily.
All of the teas dissolved immediately in hot water with no stirring needed. In cold or iced water, a little stirring or shaking was needed but by the time I drank the beverage the tea was completely dissolved. There was no waiting.
Prior to the test, let me note that my English Breakfast is my favorite tea followed closely by Oolong and Green Teas. Fruit-flavored teas are my least favorite. Based on the Cusa flavor variety, I had a slightly different experience resulting in a different order of favorite flavors. Here is what I found regarding taste in order of my personal favorites.
I liked this one the best with it being most similar to tea bags or loose teas that I normally drink. It has a good strong tea flavor without bitterness. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did a comparison one morning by making a cup of the Cusa instant and a cup with a brewed tea bag. The Cusa instant is a respectable cup of tea but compares to brewed in a similar way that VIA Instant Starbucks coffee compares to Starbucks brewed coffee. It is great for the trail but lacks the robust flavor.
This was the very best for iced tea or should I say cold tea since ice isn't available on the trail. The lemon taste is strong making this more like an Arnold Palmer to me (half tea and half lemonade). I made it hot one time but with the strong lemon flavor I didn't like it nearly as much as when it was cold. When hot, the tea flavor seemed too overpowered.
Mango Green Tea:
This was my favorite evening tea since it has the lowest caffeine content. The mango green tea smelled great. The mango taste is natural and not overpowering or fake like most fruit flavors that I've tasted, so I really liked the flavor. This variety also made an excellent cold tea.
The green tea was good but in a ho-hum kind of way. I didn't find the flavor to be as tasty as brewed green tea but I did find it to be an enjoyable cup especially in the evening.
Although I really love oolong tea, this variety came out as my least favorite with neither the taste nor the smell reminding me of oolong tea. Of course, I do not doubt that it is made from oolong tea, but something just isn't quite right for me with this variety. At first I thought that it just wasn't strong enough so I made a cup in half the water and made a cup of brewed oolong alongside it for comparison. The photo shows just how dark the tea was, but the strength of the Cusa instant didn't improve the taste for me. The comparison with a brewed tea bag highlighted why I didn't like this tea. I couldn't find that distinctive oolong smell or flavor which reminds me of a Chinese restaurant tea.
Despite all of the flavors not turning out to be my personal favorites, overall, I really loved these teas. I found them to be very convenient especially for backpacking use. With no tea bag trash and brewing so well in cold water, they are just ideal for the backcountry. I would love to see them packaged in some bulk recloseable sizes of say ten servings to help eliminate trash. For me, on most backpacking trips, I would take a ten-serving English Breakfast for mornings and a ten-serving Lemon Black or Mango Green for using in cold water.
The Cusa Tea Premium Instant Teas are a convenient way to get a proper cup of tea without carrying tea bag trash in the backcountry. Offering the teas in bulk sizes would be a great way to eliminate even more trash.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
Good taste (most varieties)
No tea bag waste
Quality tea leaves
Some flavors just didn't measure up
Package opens halfway
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Cusa Tea and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this yummy product.
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith