The energy drink market may seem like a really challenging market to get into, but this is exactly what Portland based Sportland Tea Company is trying to do with The Runner’s Tea. We had a chance to sample their line and it is clear they are onto something entirely different. Something that appeals to not only everyday runners, but endurance athletes as well.
THE PRODUCT LINE
Sportland currently offers a Citrus Mint, a Ginger Berry, and a new Recovery Blend; our team had a chance to sample the first two. Each is composed of a mix of an organic matcha green tea and herbs like mint, orange peel, ginseng, ginger, lemongrass, cayenne, hibiscus, cinnamon, and much more. All the ingredients are gluten-free, 100% organic, and sourced ethically and sustainably. The flavors are created by blending those ingredients in different ways, but each has been built to increase endurance and stimulate performance.
Below you can see on the left, Ginger Berry and on the right. Citrus Mint. Yes, they both look incredibly similar because the ingredients are basically washed with the matcha. Once brewed, this all changes pretty dramatically.
All the teas are loose leaf, so the brewing part is probably the most interesting part of the process. They actually have two different ways of brewing the tea depending on what you are looking for, performance or endurance. For endurance runners, you basically follow the performance process but then you immediately ice the tea. You do this because supposedly drinking cold water 15-30 minutes before a run increases endurance and combats fatigue. The basic process basically goes like this. Simply put 2 teaspoons in an infuser, pour a cup of hot water over the infuser, and then let sit for 3-5 minutes. The matcha falls into the water so you get that directly when you drink as you should and there herbs get disposed of after brewing. It’s a fairly painless process and something every tea or coffee drinker has done before.
THE TASTE TEST
We had our team brew it up and try them out side by side and everyone had a different take on the flavors which was really interesting to see.
Original Citrus Mint
This is very much your traditional green tea. All of the testers felt it smelled earthy and grassy (like most green teas) and with the smallest hints of mint. Several testers responded poorly to this, but once brewed this immediately changed as did everyone’s opinion. The earthiness faded away and the mint flavors took on a stronger persona. It still maintained the flavor profile of a green being slightly more bitter, but was definitely palatable and pretty mellow overall. I would probably use the word smooth to describe this tea. It was definitely favored by the folks who typically enjoy the earthier teas like traditional greens, some oolongs, and a pu-erh.
The Ginger Berry was a dramatically different experience. The nose was fruity straight out of the bag with little to no bitterness from the matcha. This one was definitely more appealing to those who veered away from the stronger green flavor of the Citrus Mint. Once brewed the fruitiness died down a bit, but it was definitely still there during drinking. The people who liked this tea tended to be those who appreciated a white tea or other flavored herbal teas, particularly those who liked the fruit aspect.
I think what we learned from the test was that there was really something for everyone.
THE RUN TEST
This is probably what folks are the most interested in and so we did this several times to report back properly. Responses were varied. Overall, the cold was preferred the majority of the time except when it was fairly chilly outside. In both cases it definitely lived up to its calling in that it didn’t dehydrate, definitely provided the electrolyte burst, and provided us a little boost. Additionally, most of the team felt like they would be happy to drink this tea when they weren’t running as well.
We also monitored heart rate really closely during this time to see if the caffeine would provide an unnatural heart rate increase. Many people complain that green tea is an (over)stimulant and like a strong coffee can lead to an elevated heart rate. We didn’t find any of this in our testing and in fact, we found it kept us at a very even level.
Overall, we found The Runner’s Tea to be incredibly tasty and a really great alternative to traditional sport drinks. We also love they are a Pacific Northwest company and they focus on being 100% sustainable and organic.
As a thank you to our readers, The Runner’s Tea is giving 15% off just by using the promo code “runningnw15” at checkout.