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A fantastic product at a not-so-fantastic price.

Benner Diet Green Tea Citrus (Aldi)

Most mass-produced teas suck, but especially the kind made by the company founded by Sir Thomas Lipton. (Hint: The name of the company is hidden somewhere in the guy’s name.) Even back in the day when I hated teas of any kind, I found theirs to be disgustingly sweet at worst, and disgustingly sweet at best. Even I could tell they were terrible, a fact* that’s only been heightened now that my interest in teas has grown. 

But there is one product they make that, against all odds, is somehow good: Their citrus green tea. I don’t know what it is about it – the tea flavor is buried under a storm of overly sweet citrus – but somehow it’s a pretty refreshing combination that isn’t syrupy or cloying like many of their other attempts.

Well, those fine folks at Benner – Aldi’s brand of teas and associated products – have concocted their own version of the non-tea tea. They offer them in the 12-packs similar to the name brand, but also offer them in a kind I’ve never tried before: Diet. Who needs all the added sweetness when you can (potentially) get most of the flavor without the crash-inducing sugar rush?

Most consistent readers of this blog (all none of you) should know that, outside of energy drinks, I rarely get diet products. They often taste horrible. Take Diet Coke, for example, which is always a staple of our household thanks to my wife’s addiction to it. I like regular Coke because it has that sharp bite and strong carbonation. The diet version takes everything that’s good about the regular version, and veils it behind a wall of disgustingly artificial sweetener. I don’t understand how anyone can drink it. And it’s not just limited to Coke, or even soft drinks in general: Virtually all diet anythings suffer from a similar change in taste. As far as food technology has come, it just can’t quite replicate the sweet perfection of sugar.

I’ve mentioned it before, but you can get a good idea as to the quality of a product before you even buy it: Clues are in the price. If an off-brand product is, say, 75% cheaper than the “real thing”, there’s a good chance it’s going to be terrible. There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but they are just that – the exceptions, and not an accurate generalization. To summarize, the closer in price to the national brand a product is, the greater the chance the quality will be very similar. (Also, the greater the chance the private label is made by the company that makes the real stuff.)

However, it can also go in the opposite direction by being so close to its price that it’s almost pointless to even purchase it. This kind of crosses that threshold. The original is already pretty expensive, and Aldi’s version basically knocks a couple of quarters off. Considering I do pretty much all of my personal shopping at Aldi, it makes sense for me to grab their brand, since that’s where I shop. Honestly, though, if I shopped elsewhere, I would probably just get the name brand; the savings just aren’t worth making a special trip to the German discount grocer.

In the end, this is a fantastic product, but it comes at a price…and that price isn’t all that far off from the national brand.

*Most of my views on products are subjective, but I’m pretty sure this has been scientifically proven.

Overall: 8/10. This is a fantastic knockoff of a mass-produced product that, against all odds, doesn’t suck. The sweetness isn’t overly cloying, and while the citrus overpowers the tea flavor, it’s a refreshing combination. But the most shocking fact is that the diet version doesn’t suffer from an overly artificial sweetener; it’s closer to the “regular” version than most beverages. The one big downside: The price isn’t all that far off from the national brand, which is a distinct ding for value. If you do most of your shopping at Aldi (like I do), grabbing Benner’s version won’t disappoint. However, if I did my shopping at other grocery chains, the savings wouldn’t justify making a special trip to Aldi, and I would just get the name brand.

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