Holderhof Bio Tea Alpenkräuter

This is my first review of an ice tea made with alpine herbs 🌱🌿🍃. This is a type of ice tea that is quite popular in Switzerland, for obvious reasons, and which you will find a number of varieties from different brands. They’re not my favorite, as they’re usually not very sweet (and I personally like my ice tea to be sweet! 😋😊).
The one I tried here is from Holderhof, a farm and small brand which makes organic, locally produced drinks (Link to their Homepage). Originally specialized in elder based drinks, they now make all sorts of syrups, lemonades, smoothies and two ice teas.

  • alpine herbs tea
  • organic
  • Swiss
  • local

As most herbal teas, it has a very light and clear color. It’s a very light yellowish and the clarity of a herbal ice tea is usually a sign of both its freshness, but also of its probable lack of sweetness.

At the first sip: Very refreshing! Almost like a herbal candy, it clears up your throat and refreshes my mouth. In the beginning its also quite easily drinkable and has a flavorful taste.
But the way I see it, this taste has very little in common with an ice tea. What I taste are all the alpine herbs, but no one particular herb gives it a distinct flavor or base taste (such as green or black tea). So when I keep drinking, the permanent refreshing of my mouth by the herbs, without a particular taste that lingers, is almost like a big show of a menu that still leaves you hungry.

I don’t know if it’s the lack of caffeine or sugar because it’s not black tea, but I just miss a certain fullness in its flavor. (I meanwhile found out that Holderhof also produces a lemon ice tea, the Bio Tea Zitrone. This would probably make for a better comparison, but I didn’t yet get a chance to try it.)

According to its label it contains: Balm, chamomile, lady’s mantle, nettles, peppermint and verbena. (And also sugar and citric acid.)

I love the fact that most of this teas ingredients come from a local farm and the one’s surrounding it, so that if I wanted to, I could go there and visit it… And it’s great that all then ingredients are certified as organic.
That said, it is not entirely clear if all ingredients are locally sourced (e.g. the sugar could be imported).

From what I can gather, this ice tea is available in a number of organic shops and delis all around Switzerland 🇨🇭. (I got this bottle at a small deli-kiosk in Zürich.) But I’m not sure it is available anywhere outside of Switzerland.
(I guess maybe in parts of Germany, as there is also a German address printed on the label.)

+ refreshing
+ organic
+ locally produced
– not sweet enough
– overwhelming herbal taste

Overall Rating: 7/10

Coop Ice Tea Lemon (Swiss)

The Ice Tea Lemon from the Swiss Coop is a pretty standard black-tea-based ice tea – sweet and pretty refreshing, as long as it’s served ice-cold.

This sort of ice tea is the hardest to review, as it doesn’t have any one quality that would make it stick out: It’s a black tea based ice tea with lemon flavor and not unique in any particular way. Nevertheless the Ice Tea Lemon from the Swiss coop supermarket-chain is certainly amongst the better one’s of this type and I’ll try to find out why!

It is very similar to the lemon ice tea from the ‘Kult’ range of the competing Migros chain of supermarkets (full review here). I can’t get around the feeling that this ice tea as a whole – right down to its packaging design – is heavily inspired by its competitor Migros’s product with it’s cult-like-following that gives it its name. Nevertheless they do have a few differences, some of which make this ice tea from the Swiss Coop even superior to the original in certain ways (and in other ways not).

  • black tea based
  • sugary-sweet
  • fairtrade
  • vegan

A brownish-beige, almost with a hint of red, this ice tea is medium-clear: Just a little bit opaque, so that I can see through it, but not quite clearly. It’s a classic color for a black tea based ice tea and in my experience that’s usually a sign that it’s pretty sweet. (Compared to the Migros ‘Kult’ ice tea, it’s slightly darker and less opaque.)

As I said, you gotta drink it cold. (If I leave the glass for a moment and it warms up just a bit, the ice tea sticks to the edges of my tongue when I drink it – which makes me constantly lick my lips.) But the flavor is really nice – sweet and refreshing, just as an ice tea should be.

Its taste reminds me of the Migros ‘Kult’ ice tea. And as the label confirms, it does also contain rose hip tea, which gives it some of that distinctive taste. The difference here is that the Coop ice tea also contains hibiscus, whereas the other one has added roselle.
This one from Coop tastes sweeter on the lips than the one from Migros, but I tend to say almost too much so. I guess it contains more sugar and that’s also what makes it so sticky once it warms up.

Fairtrade & Vegan
One thing that makes it superior to its competition in my eyes, is the fact that is certified as fairtrade by the Max Havelaar foundation. Though even this is not a guarantee that it is 100% ethically sourced, it still shows a noticeable effort for a product that has several ingredients where this is critical: Both the tea and the sugar are imported from places far away from where this ice tea is sold.

The fact that this ice tea has a vegan certification is also interesting – even though really no ice tea should contain animal products, or is there something I’m missing here?

Only available at stores of the Coop supermarket-chain in Switzerland 🇨🇭.  Priced at 75.- cents (CHF or US$) per litre, it is quite affordable compared to other products on the local market (but still 5 cents above its closest competitor’s price-per-litre).

+ flavor when cold
+ fairtrade sourcing
– stickiness
– price-per-litre compared to competition

Overall Rating: 7/10

C’ICE Cannabis Ice Tea

This is an Austrian/Swiss product and a specialty or novelty type of ice tea, with added cannabis for its taste. I already had tried once a long time ago… but clearly I didn’t remember it, as I thought I’d give it a chance for a review. But oh no, what a disappointment this ice tea was! I really can’t attest to the “Bombastic Natural Feeling” that gets promoted on its carton-can.

  • cannabis-flavor
  • black tea based
  • added lemon flavor

Medium-brown-yellowish. Just a normal black tea based looking ice tea color, the added cannabis isn’t noticeable by sight.

Unfortunately I have to say: It tastes just awful. At first I thought: Hey, it’s just a normal, quite good black tea based ice tea, with a pretty strong lemon flavor – but then it hit me. An strong, almost grassy taste of cannabis, that permeates all of my mouth. And it doesn’t taste like the scent of weed or something remotely sweet, it rather has a poignantly stingy, bitter plant-flavour. Probably the worst is its after taste, as this unfitting bitterness passes over my throat and even tends to stick there. (Best is to wash it down with some other ice tea or drink.)

As far as I know, it is pretty easily available in Switzerland, maybe in Austria, but I doubt anywhere else. But by the taste of it, I don’t think that’s gonna change anytime soon.

+ originality of the idea
– awful taste
– bad taste keeps sticking
– high price

Overall Rating: 4/10

Alte Schwendi Haus-Eistee

This is a special kind of ice tea I just discovered the other week… and I have to say, it is one of the most awesome ice teas I ever got to know!

Unfortunately it is only available in one place: At the mountain-restaurant Alte Schwendi, on the slopes of the ski-area Parsenn-Klosters, reachable from Klosters or Davos, Switzerland. In winter you can only get there by skiing or snowboarding, which makes this ice tea especially exclusive.

  • very refreshing
  • not very sweet
  • rose hip based ice tea

Opaque, dark reddish, almost blood- or wine like, with a shiny glimmer.

Extremely refreshing. I love its mostly rose-hip based flavor, which I seem to notice is a main ingredient of a lot of my favourite ice teas.
Most amazingly, it tastes really good and somehow sweet enough, despite having very little noticeable sugar. Neither do they use a lot, if any, artificial flavorings, as it doesn’t leave have that strange bitter-sweet tingling on my tongue.
I don’t know how they make its so good and sweet-tasting, but maybe this mystery even adds to the flavor. (Personally I suspect it has something to do with the perfect mixture of black-tea and rose hip, that can improve the sweetness of its taste.)

That’s probably the biggest downside: As mentioned, this ice tea is a house-mixture of this particular restaurant in the Parsenn/Klosters skiing area. It is quite well known for being one of the best restaurants on the slopes in that region. In winter you can reach the Weissfluhjoch-peak via a Gondola 🚠 from Klosters or a rack railroad🚞 from Davos, then you have to ski ⛷(or as in my case snowboard🏂) to the restaurant Alte Schwendi (via pistes 17 and 24 😄).
Website of restaurant “Alte Schwendi”

I guess all of this somehow adds to its charm, but also makes it a really hard-to-get ice tea with one of the worst availabilities around…
It comes it the 0.5L glass bottle (pictured) for 6.60 Swiss francs (ca. 6.60 $ US). This makes it certainly not the cheapest ice tea, but neither overly overpriced for a ski-area where everything has to be transported up with a high mark-up. (A Nestea 0.33L bottle will easily cost you 5.80 in an average mountain restaurant in that region.)

+ awesome taste
+ very little sugar, but still sweet enough
+ very refreshing
+ no artificial flavors
– price
– availability

Overall Rating: 8/10

Migros Ice Tea ‘Kult’ – Zitrone

A great classic: Produced by the supermarket chain Migros, it is the most popular ice tea in Switzerland – and in fact one of the most well known products of their entire range. Hence they gave it the sub-name ‘Kult’, as is has an almost cult-like following. (I for one certainly drink it a lot of it.)

It is made with black tea, rosehip and most noticeably roselle (a type of hibiscus from West Africa). Its color is distinctively light and opaque, brown/beige/yellowish.

The taste is also very light: The sweetness flows over the tip of the tongue, most of the flavor is given off in the middle and it goes down the throat very softly, almost like water. This makes it an ice tea of which you can easily drink large quantities… (At least for a mass-produced product. If you drink loads of it, you will get sick from the sugar.)
The lemon-taste (“Zitrone”) can be felt, but it is relatively delicate and not too acidic.

  • light + opaque color
  • taste of roselle
  • uniquely light on the tongue
  • easily drinkable
  • sugary

As all mass-produced and non-organic ice teas it has a lot of sugar. But as opposed to some others, this ice tea contains only sugar – there isn’t the residual taste of artificial sweeteners. And I guess this is also one reason why it is so popular with the locals… Apart from the really unique black-tea/roselle mixture, that gives it its unique taste.

It is available in 2L, 1L, 0.25L Tetrapacks, 1.5L and 0.5L PET plastic bottles and prices start at 1.40 CHF/2L, which makes it a very affordable ice tea to buy, compared to other local options. But being a product of the Migros-brand, you can only find it in Switzerland and not anywhere else.
There exists also a peach version and (at least in the past) a light version of this ice tea.

+ light, sugary taste
+ easily drinkable
+ low price
– only available in Switzerland

Overall Rating: 8/10

Bio Eistee Vivitz Classic Zitrone

A surprisingly good, organic, vegan ice tea from Switzerland. It is a black tea with some agave-juice, without refined sugar and low on calories, according to its label. (It is from a certified organic Swiss production, with Switzerland having some of the most stringent organic (“bio”) certifications around. But the agave-juice being imported, this is certified by other ‘foreign’ organic certifications.)

Despite its lack of sugar, it is really sweet. The black tea gives it its full taste and the agave-juice, which seems to work as an excellent natural sweetener, is barely noticeable at first.

It tastes real sweet at the front of the tongue, but has the usual bitterness at the back and upon swallowing, which is common with pure black teas.

  • black tea
  • medium-sweet
  • organic
  • vegan
  • local

Again, this tea needs to be drunk ice-cold. As it warms up to room temperature, it can start to taste somewhat stale.

It is from a local Swiss production, meaning it is mostly found in small Swiss delis and organic groceries.