Monday, April 29, 2013

Keeping Our Eyes on the [Financial] Prize

For the last several months and with the help of the budgeting tools on, Kendan and I have aggressively been paying $1,000 a month on his student loan debt. We're now at roughly $13,000 dollars (quite a ways down from the $24k where we started), and we're beginning to dream about the day we'll soon be debt-free. At the pace that we're going, we'll be debt-free in about a year, or 13 more months. I'm hoping that we can pay it off sooner, but for now, that's all we can comfortably muster each month.

This all started when I found a TED talk by Adam Baker. We watched this video together which was focused on "What does freedom mean to you?", and afterwards, I looked at my husband and said, "Freedom to me is no debt and living within our means for a happier, more fulfilled life!" I think we were on to something, and each day we talk about this debt. It's at the forefront of everything we do, every decision that we make, and we have our eyes on the prize.

While we are extremely lucky and fortunate to have had very little debt compared to others, we treat it with pure seriousness and want it to be gone as soon as possible. So, what's keeping us in line and focused on our goal of paying off that debt? Another goal! We still aren't 100% sure what we'll do at the end of these 13 remaining months, but we have two ideas. One I like to think it a goal that benefits us both and the other is a pat on my husband's back.

Between our two choices, we have an idea to take the honeymoon we were too poor to afford two and half years ago, or selecting a moped for my husband. Either are really good choices, and we probably will end up doing both at some point. I'm thinking a visit to Yellowstone would be fabulous as a road trip where we could really "rough it" and take our dog with us for a week or two. The moped option is still well within our means, and would provide a fun alternative to a drive in the car for our short commute to work each day.

The main point is that we're looking forward to one of those two as a congratulations for meeting our financial goal and really setting us up for our future. From there, we'll begin to see where we are and start discussing our other goals, one of which is a new means of transportation for myself. My old Status that I've had since turning 15 years old just isn't going to last me another five years, I'm afraid. We're saving for my next car right now, but we'll tackle one reward at a time.

Keep in mind that you have to stay focused on your debts and why you are wanting to pay them off. It's not just to get rid of that number, but to lift a huge burden off of your shoulders and start focusing on the fun stuff.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ways to Minimize Your Housework and Belongings

During our move a few weeks ago, my husband and I were discussing how many things we have donated in preparation for our new apartment. I am the queen of donating, and people are actually afraid to give me presents knowing that if I don't find it useful, I will simply donate it. Packing up the kitchen was a big wake-up call for us, and I sat there staring at ramekins and other useless items that I thought I needed to cook or the cabinet full of cups and dishes that overflowed for only two inhabitants of a one bedroom apartment.

As we stared at all of our boxes, my husband said, "We should go down to one plate." I thought about that and wondered how awesome it would be to just be responsible for cleaning two plates when meal time rolled around. Unfortunately, we aren't there just yet. I currently have a nice set of dishes from my great aunt that I can't let go of. They really are beautiful, but it's one sentimental thing that I can't let go of. Aside from their beauty, you can imagine our surprise when we first microwaved one and realized there was silver lining the edges of the dishes that will create sparking when heated!

Minimalism to me isn't about getting down to a backpack of your possessions, but downsizing to the things that you really want and need in your life. Once you start to dig around your kitchen, living room, bedroom closet, and bathroom, you realize that you really don't need all of that excess and that you could simply do without. There's something magical that happens once you get rid of all the little useless things in your life. I couldn't pinpoint it at first, but now I know what it is.

I can wake up in the morning and quickly tidy up the house before heading to work. There's no longer tons of little things laying around and everything has a purpose. I've always been sort of a neat-freak and I pride myself on my organization, but once you whittle down your belongings to the things that make sense for everyday use, you really free up tons of time. It's easier to get dressed in the morning, my kitchen always looks pretty spotless, and I am not stressing about big messes.

Think of the things in your life that bog you down or make you feel like you need to do a laundry-list of chores. Ugh, sorry to make you do that, but now check out these tips below for ways to ease your mind and lift the burden of abundance.

  • Recycle cheap plastic storage containers and invest in Pyrex storage pieces that can quickly be tossed in the dishwasher and will last forever
  • Clear out your living area of uneccessary items, including small catch-alls that attract clutter
  • Look at your kitchen counters, rethink the space, and set out only frequently used items like spices and a cutting board
  • Recycle any worn out plastic cups and invest in some glass or my favorite: Tervis tumblers
  • Take a look around your bedroom and put away any items that are catching dust
  • Utilize the drawers or shelves in the bathroom to store your essentials and keep them in an easy to reach space

Monday, April 22, 2013

Angel's [Plant-Based] Journey to Better Health

During the end of 2012, I posted an infographic about being vegan. I truly believe in people coming in to your life and out of your life at the right moments, and this one was of them. A woman responded my tweet and said she was considering going plant-based due to cardiac issues. I offered my help, and realized she was in the Austin area. Over the next few weeks, we talked via Twitter, and eventually on the phone. I helped her get in contact with my vegan physician, Dr. Linda Carney, and she made an appointment to go see her.

We finally met up in mid-February for some vegan lunch at Casa De Luz here in Austin, Texas. I feel like I've known her for years, and it's been amazing to support her on this journey.

LRJ: What made you decide to go plant-based?

Angel: I like to say I was "shocked" in to going plant-based (pardon the play on words). I started to have major cardiac issues, including Atrial Fibrillation. It had been a chronic issue, but when I experienced it with severe chest pain, I knew I had to make a drastic change. Facing the prospect of different invasive, life-threatening procedures and medications, I opted to choose food to treat my disease. Here I am, pounds lighter and practically medication free. I love it.

LRJ: You've had some health problems in the past, and it's been a long battle, but what make this lifestyle choice different from the others you have tried? 

Angel: Most "diets" I went on were based on eating more meat than anything else. I would lose weight, but my blood pressure would shoot up because of the processed meats (and meat in general). I was always battling with water retention and other heart issues. I would drink protein shakes loaded with chemicals and become bloated and sick. I struggled with food addiction, as well. Attempting to lose weight by trying to just eat less of food that I was addicted to just wasn't working. Eating a plant-based diet has allowed me to get rid of addiction. The beautiful thing is that when I do want to eat, I can do so without guilt. The plant-based diet is a gift.

LRJ: What has been the biggest health benefits or changes that you've noticed since going vegan? 

Angel: Getting off my heart meds has been awesome. Having increased energy to workout is a huge plus. Weight loss is ALWAYS wonderful. I'm also more confident. I say what I need a lot easier.

LRJ: Did you face any challenges in the beginning?

Angel: I did have some challenges with family and friends, but everyone was supportive for the most part. I had to get out of my own way and believe I could actually not eat meat. I had to do a lot of research and commit to learning about making such a substantial lifestyle change, but even that was manageable. I think the deep desire to be free from my health issues made the transition a lot easier.

LRJ: Tell me about your blog, Still Fat and 40ish. What inspired you to create this blog, and how has it evolved as your journey has brought you to plant-based nutrition?

Angel: I created the blog because I realized I was approaching "The Big 4-0" and felt woefully unfulfilled. I wanted to connect with other older women with aspirations to make a fresh start. I wanted to focus on beauty tips, starting over, fashion, and health (of every kind). When I began to struggle because of my issues and became plant-based, I began to feel so different and rejuvenated, I wanted to share my experiences. ALL of my posts were about some aspect of my plant-based life experience. I love making and sharing recipes. I definitely need to post more! I really need to talk about how my plant-based life has helped with freeing me from food addiction. That is MAJOR!

LRJ: I recommended you to my all-time favorite hero, Dr. Linda Carney! What has she taught you and how has she impacted your journey? 

Angel: She taught me vigilance. She gave me a lot of pointers about how other, non-food related areas of my life contribute to (or hinder) my health. Adequate sleep, using my CPap machine diligently, and daily physical activity will help me reach my overall health goals. She taught me that.

LRJ: What advice would you give to others who are considering making a lifestyle change? 

Angel: I would say that it's important to consider this lifestyle carefully and for the right reasons. It's not just a weight loss program. This way of life changes you completely and you will face things about yourself and others that you don't really like, but need to deal with. Friendships and familial relationships might be strained, but it's necessary to be selfish. This is only life we're given. It has to be the most important thing. Be ready for ridicule. Be prepared for lack of accommodation. Educate yourself. Prepare yourself. Interact with others on the same journey. Do what it takes to make the transition, or go cold turkey. Whatever works. Just DO IT! Time waits for no one.

LRJ: Have you shared your plant-based knowledge with anyone else in your life? 

Angel: I share everyday and constantly. I'm learning to share it only when asked and I don't judge anyone for eating meat. I know of one person who has actually opted to become vegan because of my sharing. My husband eats healthier and his constitution has improved. He's not completely vegan, but more and more, he's seeing the difference in the way he feels when he eats better. I know that I have inspired many people to live a better life for themselves and for the people they love.

LRJ: Anything else you'd like to add? 

Angel: This has been an amazing journey so far. I am grateful for people like you who've helped me along the way. It was so important to have your support when I started. You made me believe I could do this. I appreciate you.

Want to follow Angel in her journey? Check out her blogGoogle+, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Middle-Class Abundance Study from UCLA

I stumbled up these videos while recently browsing for anti-consumerism research. These are the results of a 10-year study of 32 different families conducted by anthropologists and archaeologists from UCLA. What's probably more startling that how many things people have, is that it's really not far from what I have seen in many homes growing up. This is becoming all too common and after watching these while writing this post, I got up from my laptop and started to clean my kitchen. Just the thought of ever becoming this filled with clutter makes me nervous.

I am not sure what has fueled this more, whether that is advertising, the super consumer economy we're created, or the fact that people just can't throw away or donate something! Most of the things in these videos just look like they purchased things on a whim (as I know all too well) or have stockpiled for some unknown reason or to quell some subconscious feat that they have within them. I do know that it's best to realize that when you are at this point, it may be time to reconsider how you're living, what you're using the space in your home for, and if you really need all of the things within it.

The results of the study were published with photographs in the book, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, and serves as a window into the homes of busy parents and their children. Check out the videos below to get a taste for how others live and then consider how you're currently using your home.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Finance 101: 7 Reasons Why I Love

After watching a TED Talk in November 2012, I realized that I needed to make some changes. In the past, we have always just bought whatever our little hearts desired in that moment. Boy, was that stupid. I had listened to Dave Ramsey in the past about beans and rice, rice and beans, but it didn't really click until I saw that Adam Baker's "Sell your crap, pay off your debt, do what you love". Once I realized that we should be focusing on paying off my husband's student loans, it finally snapped.

I had maybe heard of in passing, but I never truly considered using the (FREE) site until then. Here's what I found by using it for over 5 months now:

1. Setting up an account takes five minutes. During the setup process, you're prompted to add your accounts, including savings, checking, retirement, loans, and more. Within a few minutes, I was immediately aware of all of our money across several accounts that would have been a pain to track otherwise. Honestly, before creating a account, I hadn't even been looking at all of our accounts. Out of sight, out of mind.

2. Everything is in one place. As I mentioned above, it brings all of your accounts front and center so you're not having to remember to check your bank account and also your retirement funds. The info is cleverly combined into one place where you really get a scope of what's going on with your finances. I love the one big number that shows you all of your combined money at the moment, although I kind of don't like the big negative number that shows you're in debt. That's all the more motivation to only be in the green and not to stay in the red.

3. Budgeting is simple. If budgeting were this straightforward, I like to ask myself why more people aren't doing it! I always thought of budgets as intimidating, final, and something that was really tough to do. I won't lie to you: we blew some of our budgets out of the water in the first month we used, but only because I was in the dark about how we really spent our money. I was completely shocked that we had spent over $800 in food the first month, but that's the beauty of budgeting. You adjust the numbers slightly for the next month and aim for spending less. It's a learning process, and they have made it so easy to do!

4. Saving for goals, such as a new car, is realistic. For years now, my trusty rusty old Dodge Stratus has kept me mobile, but after rebuilding the transmission (and never hearing the end of that decision from my husband!), I realized that I need to save up for another car. We've been socking away some money each month to save up for our next vehicle, which we will pay cash for. I hate debt with a passion, so I am definitely not getting a car payment. Luckily, we were prepared when we realized while having our taxes done that we hadn't been putting enough toward our taxes. We owed a whopping $1,500 to the IRS this year, but we'd saved a few times that amount, so we were totally fine to pay that the same day we found out. It sucked, but we learned our lesson, adjusted our W-4's, and moved on!

5. Checking your accounts is one click away with an app. Although the iPhone app looks much nicer, they have an Android app that gives you some basic functionality. It's on my home page, and when I am out and about, if there's any doubt in my mind about a purchase, or whether I should go home and cook or if we can afford another meal out, I'll quickly check my phone and have the answer instantly. I can also see if I'm needing to tighten up my purse strings for the week.

6. My husband and I are finally on the same financial page. Having this account has forced us to be more in tune to how we're spending the money. I'm usually the one who goes out to the grocery store, but there have been many discussions about purchases outside of what we normally spend. I had no idea how much my husband had been going out for lunch, and we soon realized that we needed to make more of an effort to cook at home and bring in a lunch instead of the daily outing to grab one.

7. We're paying $1,000 a month on student loans (and not even batting an eye)! This is probably the most exciting reason that I love We owed roughly $300 a month in loans, but I knew this would only keep us afloat and not really attack the problem full force. I budgeted for $500 one month, and we were both so excited to exceed that goal, that we're now paying $1,000 and sometimes more on the loans. At this pace, we're set to be debt-free in about a year and a half. When I called the loan company, the woman said, "Ma'am, you're YEARS ahead on your payments!" My response? "Yeah, we're aggressively paying off this debt!"

So what are you waiting for?! Go right now to and sign up. Take control of your finances, your life, and your dreams by getting serious with budgeting and reclaiming your time and money. Check out the video below that breaks it all down with an overview of what they offer.

Did I mention this was FREE to use?!?!

Tutorial on how to add an account:

Tutorial on how to create a budget: 

Tutorial on how to see trends:

Tutorial on how to set a financial goal:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Minimalism 101: We The Tiny House People

In the last several months, I have been re-evaluating many things. I feel like they have all stemmed from going vegan and changing my lifestyle, but it opened many doors into my finances and how I lived. After watching Adam Baker's TED Talk about debt and what freedom meant to him, I started to wonder if I was always meant to live by not following "the script". In many ways, when I began dating my husband over eight years ago, I envisioned how it would all unfold. Dating, college, landing the perfect job, engagement, marriage, buying a home, having two kids, etc. 

Then as we progressed throughout our life, we found all of these things to be somewhat unattainable and impossible to follow the path that I always thought we were meant to follow. A few months ago, I realized that no, I don't need to have all of these things in that order to be happy in life, and that not everyone lived the American Dream. What I did find was marvelous. Instead of buying McMansions, I found a documentary that revolved around space, basic comforts in a home, and a way of living that went against every thought and dream that I had. 

We, The Tiny House People is a great documentary that focuses on a different way to live. I sat here in amazement as I watched how each home was different than the next, although had the same principles and goals in mind. Living small was not only environmentally smart, but it's also financially flexible. Why hadn't I considered this before? I challenge you to watch this and re-evaluate what you think is most important in life. It's not always about getting the next best thing or having the most square footage.

Enjoy the full documentary below in its entirety!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Minimalism in Disney: Baloo's Bear Necessities

When you're a child, there's really so much great advice out there that you probably didn't even catch. Aside from the great Dr. Seuss quotes that I previously blogged about, Disney movies are also a great source of adult advice that we tend to tune out. After a night of singing Disney songs last weekend, I realized that Baloo really knew what he was talking about. Who knew that I would have watched that movie so many times without realizing that he was talking about a form of minimalism?
Look for the bear necessities
The simple bear necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bear necessities
Old Mother Nature's recipes
That brings the bear necessities of life 
Great! Here we have some minimalism and what sounds like veganism to me, too! How did I just now hear this in the lyrics?! Have about the part where they are floating the water? Let's take a look at those lyrics!
Yeah! This is really livin'!
So just try and relax, yeah cool it
Fall apart in my backyard
'Cause let me tell you something little britches
If you act like that bee acts, uh uh
You're working too hard
And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you
They'll come to you
My only regret is that I didn't figure out all of this sooner. I now tend to enjoy my life more without worrying so much about things. As Baloo says, you can really live without so much. For us, "bare necessities" is something that we're still working on. During our recent move, my husband suggested that we go down to one plate each. While we aren't there just yet, it's still challenging us to rethink how we consume, what we do with the money that we have, and how we don't really need all that we've had.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vegan Diet 101: The Overconsumption of Food

I like to frequent Reddit, and one of my favorite subreddits other than r/minimalism and r/vegan is r/anticonsumerism. After watching the video below, I found myself repulsed in many ways. Even now that I am a vegan, there is still something unsettling about the video. There are no words in the video simply because they were able to tell this story without them. If you're still consuming animals, then it's worth taking a look.

Especially in the beginning of my lifestyle change, many people would respond to my journey as though they could never make these adjustments as I had. At first, I insisted that I was doing this only for my health. As time went on, my journey started to take another turn. I now realized that after reading Skinny Bitch and watching half of Earthlings (once you watch it, you'll understand why I only sat through an hour of it), something hit me.

These animals are no different than our dogs or cats. Why were we consuming them instead of our dogs? What makes them different? And more importantly, how were they being treated so inhumanely without anyone really caring? When I bring this up to non-vegans, I often hear, "I don't care about the animals..." or "They are for US to eat!" Would you allow your dog to be put in a cage, poked, prodded, watch its tail be cut off?

I know I may sound extreme (oh no, I sound like I did when I first went vegan!), but this happens to billions of animals each year. The total tally is over 56 billion, to give you some idea. I can't even fathom that number! Take a look at the video below and take a peek inside some of the food industry's darkest secrets.

Will it move you to change?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Adrienne's Journey to a Plant-Based Lifestyle

I have been wanting to share the stories of some of my fellow vegan readers. We all know that becoming a vegan is a journey and it can take you for some unexpected twists and turns. Adrienne was one of the first to reach out to me when I was asked for others to share their personal stories. As a busy grad student who also is practicing Bikram yoga, she truly exudes the dedication that I see in many others who have decided to take this path. I've asked her about what brought her to this life, how she makes it all work, and what advice she would offer to others looking to make a change!

LRJ: Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Adrienne: I’m a 25 year old New York transplant now living a life powered by all things green! I grew up an omnivore in CT and went to Marist College in the Hudson Valley. After graduating college with a MS in Business, and tipping the scale at almost 200 lbs., I moved to Westchester, NY and took a job at IBM.

Soon after moving out of college and away from my parent's food choices, I realized I needed to make a drastic change in myself. I started transitioning to a more plant-based diet. I cut out all meat, although I was still eating shellfish and some dairy. I started running extensively and dropped 40 lbs. by the end of 2011. Now, as a vegan, I’ve lost an additional 10 lbs. (and still dropping!) since I’ve incorporated Bikram into my life.

Aside from my plant-life, I’m also a part-time grad student getting my MA in Marketing/Communications. I have my own blog, The Broke Vegan, and I have an omnivore “ball & chain” who good-heartedly tries all of my vegan cooking experiments.

LRJ: What made you decide to go plant-based?

Adrienne: In March 2012 I made two of the greatest decisions of my life: I got a roommate and made the jump to a fully vegan lifestyle. My non-traditional roommate is a 5 lb., black, white and brown bundle of fur, a 2 year old rabbit named Lady Bug (like royalty, not like the insect). As a prey animal, I couldn’t bear to think of anyone ever considering her as something to be featured next to sautéed asparagus. It occurred to me that every being has feelings, emotions and awareness. I started doing research about veganism, made up my mind, and never looked back.

Incidentally – Lady Bug is also a vegan!

LRJ: You're super busy working full-time, going to grad school part time and studying Birkam! How do you plan for your meals or have time to cook?!

Adrienne: I live and die by my spreadsheet. I am constantly on a timeline, and do a lot of prepping for my meals. Everyone loves the convenience of microwaveable meals – and there’s no reason why you can’t have that in a healthy, vegan, budget-conscious way.

I usually make a crock-pot full of lunch meals on a Sunday, and every night make my lunch for the next day. My new favorite cook-ahead are my Super Green Muffins – I make a dozen on a Sunday afternoon – volia! – all my breakfasts for the week (paired with a banana) and I’m off to my 6 a.m. yoga!

Dinner is anything I can throw into a sauté pan. Literally anything. No secrets – just healthy convenience!

LRJ: I tried Bikram a while back and loved it, but I didn't feel I had enough time to commit to it. I definitely felt challenged and motivated when I was in the studio, though! Tell me how the Bikram yoga come into play with your new lifestyle change.

Adrienne: Going to Bikram is a PITA (pain in the a**) and I’ll be the first to admit it. I have to take 3 outfits, 2 towels, 2 mats (one towel and one mat), a water bottle – honestly, I could use a small suitcase. Not only that, but the only time I can usually get to go is at 6 a.m. Yeah, 105 degrees at 6 a.m. Talk about a recipe for misery. I know why Bikram isn’t for everyone!

For me – even though it takes a lot of prep – it’s worth it. If you can’t tell, I’m a Type A personality, with a lot of stressors on my plate. Bikram gives me the 90 minutes where it’s just me and my mat. No cell phone, no distractions. I find myself so much more in control of my emotions, and my energy level is off the charts. You have to love yourself enough to go, and compassionate enough to let each session be whatever it is – and in that love, you find love and compassion for everything else. Sounds like hippie 101, but I swear it’s true!

LRJ: What has been the biggest health benefits or changes that you've noticed since going vegan in March 2012?

Adrienne: That’s an easy one – I haven’t been sick. If I’ve been sick, it’s for one or two days, and that’s it! Cutting out all the processed chemicals, dairy and meat has allowed my body to build up some incredible natural defenses. I used to be the queen of sinus infections (multiple times a year) and I think I’ve only had half of one since becoming vegan!

LRJ: Did you face any challenges in the beginning?

Adrienne: Of course, everyone makes mistakes. I’m not a Veg-magazine-thumping vegan, I’m not going to judge you for accidentally eating an egg in a piece of bread. I too had a fair share of mistakes as I was navigating the early waters. The biggest challenge was/is giving up seafood. I grew up on the coast of CT, and summers were filled with hush-puppies, fried and lobster boils. It’s very very hard to break old behavior patterns, especially when they’re so closely tied to memories.

LRJ: What advice would you give to others who are considering making a lifestyle change?

Adrienne: My number one suggestion: Watch this video by animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky titled, “The Best Speech You’ll Ever Hear”. He makes the most compelling, logical, fact-based argument for veganism I’ve ever heard. If you don’t at least consider living a plant-fueled lifestyle after that, I don’t know what to tell you.

LRJ: Have you shared your plant-based knowledge with anyone else in your life?

Adrienne: Yes – I’ve told everyone and anyone who will listen! I don’t mean that I go around handing out PETA brochures, but if nutrition and health is brought up – I’m happy to add my two cents. My boyfriend is incredibly supportive, and always makes sure to choose restaurants that have veg-friendly restaurants. I’m trying to convince my parents to become more plant-based; I actually got my dad to eat (and enjoy) a vegan meal at a local café – and he does like vegan cookies now. Although, who doesn’t like vegan cookies?!

Veganism, like any other decision directly affecting your health, is a very personal decision. People become a vegan for many different reasons, and, in my opinion – any steps towards a more compassionate lifestyle should be considered steps in the right direction. If you’re interested in veganism, do what anyone does: Google it!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Honest Tea: Panel of Three Gives Honest Review

At the end of January, I was contacted by Honest Tea to give an honest review of their products. They dropped off some samples on my doorstep, since they are also headquartered in Austin. I was overly excited to try them out, and had tasted their product a few months prior at an Austin Food Blogger Alliance event. When I received the email asking if I'd like to try out the samples, I was more than happy to do so. I recruited my husband and our friend Jeff to help me try them out and see what they thought about their drinks.

Before we start with the reviews, here's a quick bio for each taste tester:

Kelsey  | Founder, The Little Red Journal

Born and raised in the country, my mother would set a jar on the porch on warm sunny days with a few bags of tea, and brew us up what she simply called, "Sun Tea". We always sweetened it like crazy, but it's a taste I'll never forget.

Kendan | The Biggest Deep Blue Something fan

While Kendan prefers iced Earl Grey tea, during childhood he grew up around mostly sweet tea drinkers and likes to drink unsweetened tea. He frequently would shake his head at his wife Kelsey, as she poured sugar into her tea.

Jeff | Avid Tea Drinker Since Childhood

With Jeff's strong tea background as a child growing up in an Asian family, his knowledge of all things tea made him a perfect candidate to review Honest Tea. As the years have passed, his interest in teas has grown and his refined taste buds.
Unsweetened Passion Fruit Green Tea

Kendan: It’s not how you think sweet teas are – it’s not super sweet but I like unsweetened tea.

Jeff: It smells like fruit punch. It’s really fragrant at first when you first smell it, but the smell doesn’t exactly translate over the taste. It’s not bad, it’s just - I’m not sure if it’s the sweetener that is throwing me off, but… It has more of a flowery taste than passion fruit. I would prefer it be unsweetened. The sweetness takes away from some of that tea.

Kelsey: I like the light hint of sweetness that is in it. I have never tasted a passion fruit before!

Just Green Tea

Jeff: I'm not used to drinking green tea cold, but you can definitely taste the green tea in this.

Kendan: Yeah, I think it takes a little while to get used to it.

Jeff: It’s not brewed too strong to where it’s bitter. It’s just about right.

Kelsey: Yeah, I like sweet tea. I’m used to Texas tea, where's it's nothing but sugar.

Jeff: It’s kind of hard to screw up tea.

Just Black Tea

Kendan: I like this one the best.

Jeff: Yep, it’s pretty good. It’s just like iced tea.

Kendan: I like this one the best because it’s just black tea.

Zero Honest Ade

Jeff: It’s not overloaded with sweeteners. Whoa. What is this? There’s this different taste to it.

Kendan: [mixes lemonade with black tea] Yeah, yeah that’s pretty good. They should look into that market, as well. Mix them together.

Jeff: It’s got a nutty flavor. The lemonade is really good but what threw me off at first was the sweetener. There’s a little bit of an aftertaste, but it’s pretty good.

Kelsey: Wow, this is pretty good. There is something nutty about it.

Kendan: I would say the lemonade and black tea are the best and they should mix them!

Kelsey: Kendan, mix one for me.

[ Kendan mixes drink]

Kelsey: Oh yeah, I like that!

Jeff: For the sweetened ones, at least they are not overly sweet. The sweetness doesn’t overpower the tea.

Kendan: It’s in the background. Others are overly sweet.

Jeff: Yeah, others are like sugar water.

Thanks again to Honest Tea for the great samples that they sent me. It was fun to get together and try them out and we really made an afternoon of it. When we moved a couple of weekends ago, I found another Honest Ade in my refrigerator and shouted out to Jeff, who quickly swooped in to grab one. We enjoyed trying these out and would highly recommend them to anyone who's reaching for a tea while at the store!