The Good: Good ingredients
The Bad: Does not taste like orange, Decaffeinated
The Basics: Utterly disappointing for its completely bland taste, which is almost completely devoid of fruit flavor, Decaf Mandarin Orchard green tea fails.
Right before my annual trip to the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder, Colorado, I began to get desperate and my regular readers could tell. They knew this because I had begun to review decaffeinated teas. I am not a decaffeinated type person. I do not need there to be caffeine in a tea to enjoy it, but I certainly do not need it removed either.
So, when all I could find at the store was Decaf Mandarin Orchard, I was only aiming for adequacy; I didn't need to be blown away. Would I have liked it if this had tasted more like Tuscany Orange Spice? Sure. But I was ready for something a bit more mild, especially considering that this is a green tea.
It did not meet even my most basic expectations for a tea that is attempting to trade on having a fruit flavor.
Decaf Mandarin Orchard is a tea from Celestial Seasonings. It is a 100% natural green tea that is caffeinated and attempts to pass itself off as orange flavored or accented with orange. Decaf Mandarin Orchard comes in Celestial Seasoning's standard stringless tea bags, which are paired together with easy to separate perforations that allow one to separate the tea bags. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and leave them connected. A box of Decaf Mandarin Orchard comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.
Decaf Mandarin Orchard is marketed as a orange-flavored tea and it falls so far short of that, I'm not sure why they try to fool their tea drinkers. The flavor of oranges, which usually comes across quite strong in Celestial Seasonings fruit teas, especially the citrus ones, is nonexistent. It's not there. At all. Instead, we are condemned to the scent of orange when the water is first poured on the tea bags and then nothing more. By the time the tea is done steeping, even the aroma of oranges has left this tea.
Ease Of Preparation
Decaf Mandarin Orchard is a green tea, which means preparation is as easy as almost boiling a pot of water! Green teas, as the directions clearly state, require water that is not quite boiling. Boiling water cooks the tea leaves and ruins the flavor, so water used for green teas like this one must be kept below a full boil. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea, though reusing the tea bags yields little more than hot water. These tea bags cannot be reused and even credibly call the result "tea." Indeed, the second pots I've tried were incredibly weak, tasting only like the remnants of green tea. These bags are one-use only. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though it is impossible to get a decent second pot out of the bags.
To prepare Decaf Mandarin Orchard, simply heat up some water, and pour it over the tea bags in a cup, mug or steeping pot. This tea is recommended to take three to five minutes to steep and after a couple cups and pots, I've found that with almost boiling water, the tea is ready at the five minute mark and letting it steep longer does not truly change the results. Letting the tea steep more than six minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.
Decaf Mandarin Orchard, on its own, does not taste even vaguely like oranges. The green tea flavor easily overwhelms it. Sadly, it is not even vaguely fruity. There is nothing even that hints at citrus or fruit in this tea; it is simply dry and bland and tea flavored. Many people complain that Celestial Seasonings teas are more like hot fruit drinks than teas; Decaf Mandarin Orchard is very much the opposite of that. There is no fruit flavor to this very tea-flavored tea.
Decaf Mandarin Orchard does have a minimal aftertaste to it that is quite dry. The dry mouth aftertaste is emblematic of most green teas in my experience and Decaf Mandarin Orchard is no better or worse in that regard.
With sugar, Decaf Mandarin Orchard becomes sweet without enhancing any sense of its fruit flavor. It is, however, remarkably easy to overwhelm the tea with sugar and I recommend no more than a teaspoon (not a heaping one) be added to cut any lingering dryness from the taste and aftertaste. With sugar, it is sweet green tea, but it lacks more flavor than that and anyone looking for a fruity flavored drink will be disappointed by this on the taste front.
Iced, Decaf Mandarin Orchard is an equally unremarkable tea. The green tea flavor dominates and when sugar is added to the tea cold, it only accents the green tea nature more. It is not even good and cold, it fails to evoke the flavor of oranges.
It is somewhat surprising that the green tea flavor crushes the orange flavor of Decaf Mandarin Orchard, considering that the primary ingredients are: green tea, orange peel and lemon verbena. The second two ingredients ought to have provided some sense of citrus. But, alas, no. Decaf Mandarin Orchard tea is all natural, gluten free, and does not contain caffeine.
Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of Decaf Mandarin Orchard, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein.
Decaf Mandarin Orchard is a green tea, so it comes out much lighter than other teas. As a result, cleanup is rather simple. The mugs and steeping pot easily rinse out. This does not stain fabrics, unless left on them for excessive amounts of time. Anything that is not a bright color will easily hide a stain from this tea. Lighter colored fabrics might need a rinse, but this tea isn't even strong enough to use as a dying tea!
Decaf Mandarin Orchard is easy to clean up after - the tea bags may be disposed in the garbage, or composted if you have a good garden and/or compost pile. One of the nice things about this tea - like most - is that so long as it is kept cool and dry, it can last for a long time and it is easy to clean up.
Decaf Mandarin Orchard is a disappointing tea that leaves the drinker unsatisfied, especially one who just wants an orange flavored tea. It is hard to see why - with Celestial Seasonings rebooting - this one is still on the shelves. It is a rare thing for me to utterly sink a Celestial Seasoning tea, but this one does not deserve anyone's time or attention or purchase!
For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
Cranberry Pomegranate Green
For other food and beverage reviews, please visit my index page!
© 2010, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.