I was very excited to try Spiced Clementine on day two of the Bird and Blend Advent Calendar for 2020 – I’d previously purchased Davids Tea’s Satsuma Spice Cake with high hopes and been very disappointed, and this seemed like something that could fill the void that left. The two have fairly different premises, but the similarities are also obvious. When I first opened the pouch for this tea and gave the dry tea a whiff, it was like sticking my nose into a juicy orange – with hints of marmaladey, spicy goodness. The sense was that it was warming without ever having fired up the kettle. I kept my expectations in check, however, as apple came before orange peel in the ingredients list, and I’ve had plenty of times where an herbal tea of any flavour quickly devolves into yet another muted apple cider.
Once said kettle was sufficiently fired up, and tea steeped, however, I found this remained a perfectly zesty orange flavour – and spices! They were so lovely and balanced here that nothing ever touched on “apple cider” (thank you for leaving out the cinnamon!). Instead, I was transported back to the old Christmas shops I used to see popping up in malls around Canada in the 90s, where everything smelled like Christmas, and chutneys and dips were on sample with little crackers or pretzels, and about 3-5 different apple ciders were on offer to try. Strangely, it didn’t taste like the ciders, but like the whole shop smelled.
The hibiscus gave a tartness that was, I believe, just the perfect level here – it was tart but not sour. It balanced the clementine flavour out to a convincing degree without making one’s eyes water or want to reach for a glass of water, as hibiscus sometimes can. It felt like it might be reaching up there, but it never crossed the threshold, maintaining instead its place as a supporting role rather than the starring one.
I’ll frequently reach for a black tea over an herbal, and I’d have loved to experience this as a black tea one could add milk to without fear of a curdling catastrophe, but I still really enjoyed the depths this offered thoroughly, and appreciated how nicely every flavour seemed to complement the others. Every worry and misgiving I had about this tea was assuaged by experiencing it, and I have to say it delivered exactly what the name promised. And all whilst delivering “Christmas” to a tee.
Flavors: Cloves, Orange, Spices, Tart