About two weeks ago, I opened a new box of Good Earth tea and made myself a mug as usual. My first sip puckered my mouth; what was this bitter taste? I finished the mug reluctantly, assuming a bad bag had eluded quality control. But the next mug, and the mug after that, caused procrastination and dismay. What was wrong with my tea?? I supplemented with sugar and cinnamon, which helped me drink the whole mug but added an unpleasant aftertaste.
I bought two boxes at each of two different stores, thinking maybe quality control had missed a whole batch. Every mug brought the same disappointment. A friend didn't notice any difference and enjoyed her mug, which puzzled me. But when Pete tried it, he agreed, "There's definitely something different." I limped through my days, dreading each sip but continuing to drink tea out of habit and a belief in the importance of getting water into my system.
At the church, I used a bag which had been in my purse. The tea was good! Later that day, at my parents' house, another bag from the purse produced the same result. I thought perhaps it was the water, since the farm had switched wells about the time this whole ordeal began. So I brought a bag from home and used the church water to brew a new mug, hoping against hope that this would solve the problem. It didn't.
Finally I called Good Earth's number and spoke with a young man who blithely vowed that they changed their recipe about a year ago, and the boxes with 18 tea bags had "artificial flavors" as an ingredient, while the boxes with 25 bags had the old recipe of "natural flavors" as an ingredient. His unrepentant manner irritated me and I pressed him a little, hoping for at least an apology or a coupon, but he just continued to assure me that I needed to find the boxes with 25 bags.
Pete and I searched the stores of Willmar over the next few days, finding no boxes with 25 bags of Good Earth tea. Sure enough, all the boxes we found had "artificial flavors" listed as the third ingredient. I found 25-bag boxes online at the Good Earth site and ordered a bunch, afraid to expect the best but wanting to continue to drink tea. They arrived within a few days, with "natural flavors" listed as the third ingredient. I fearfully poured the water over the bag in the mug, waited ten minutes, gingerly tasted it, and - smiled in delight! The delicious taste of Good Earth original tea filled my mouth.
I'm not sure what to make of all this. Certainly it's a symptom of a massively wealthy culture. But I'm very grateful to once again drink mug after mug of delicious sweet and spicy tea throughout my day.