I rarely find myself sitting at home craving a cup of orange-flavoured tea – or orange-flavoured anything, for that matter – which is unfortunate in some ways because this is a really nice little tea. A few weeks ago, I received a tin of Fortnum & Mason Christmas Tea and I had visions of drinking this tea around fairy lights and home made decoration, mince pies and dish after dish of delectable Christmas treats. This vision was shattered on the realisation that the tea was perhaps the most vile tea I had the misfortune to drink in many years. I offloaded all 200 grams of this tea onto a work colleague and the search was on for the perfect Christmas tea. For me, nothing says Christmas and Summer like cherries so I purchased a tea that was blended with cherries and chocolate but this was a bit too rich. On a whim, I purchased the blood orange blend on a recent visit to the Tea Centre in Sydney as I thought it would blend nicely with the cherry tea. As it turned out, it was absolutely revolting and the search for the perfect Christmas tea continues.
All this brings me to the Blood Orange tea. I can immediately smell the sweet, citrus when I open the packet. The tea is fairly uniform, with flecks of safflower and perhaps two or three pieces of dried orange zest for every couple of teaspoons of tea. After brewing for four minutes, this yields a strong, coppery liquor. There is no bitterness or astringency, and the taste of the orange is sweet but not cloying, with honey and vanilla tones. There is a slightly malty taste, and a nice full-bodied mouth feel. The orange taste is neither brisk nor flat, neither mellow nor bracing but perfectly balanced. The tea base is just right as well – flavoursome on its own terms, but sufficiently restrained for the oranges to yield their flavour. I’m not sure how this will taste with milk but I wouldn’t add sugar – although very lightly sweetened would make a nice dessert tea – and I definitely wouldn’t add lemon.
This rather unassuming tea will definitely be making welcome return appearances. I think this would be perfect with light cakes and biscuits for a garden tea party, and would make a nice after-dinner tea or with a dessert that’s not too strongly flavoured.