The Good: Nothing terrible in it, Easy to make
The Bad: Doesn't taste like orange, Not a strong aroma, Caffeine free
The Basics: A surprisingly bland Bigelow tea, Orange & Spice disappoints tea drinkers.
For those who do not keep up with my regular tea reviews, I am a proud Celestial Seasonings loyalist. I love their teas because they are flavorful, the tea bags have minimal waste and I generally enjoy the company's creativity with coming up with new flavors. So, when I open up to reviewing other brands' teas, it's a rare thing . . . only it hasn't been lately. While traveling on my yearly cross country adventure, I found myself at a Quality Inn near the Mall Of America in Minnesota that had a twenty-four hour tea service. Well, with so many options just sitting there, I ended up with a good sized stash of a diverse array of Bigelow teas.
One of those flavors was Bigelow Orange & Spice tea. After years of drinking some of Celestial Seasonings's better citrus flavored teas, there were large shoes for this tea to fill when it came up in my rotation. Unfortunately, with Bigelow Orange & Spice, the tea manufacturer doesn't even put up the scent of fearlessness in trying to match Celestial Seasonings; this tea falls pretty far away from the gold standard in this regard.
Orange & Spice is an all natural tea from Bigelow. It is a chicory-based tea that lacks caffeine and has a shocking lack of scent when steaming. Orange & Spice comes in Bigelow's standard individually-wrapped tea bags, means that each tea bag has a wax papery envelope it is sealed in for freshness. Each tea bag has a five-inch string with a little paper tab at the end, which is quite a bit more waste than I like from a tea bag. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and making a steeping pot of Orange & Spice reminds me of why I like the easy environmentalism of Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags. A box of Orange & Spice comes with 20 individually-wrapped tea bags.
Orange & Spice is marketed as an orange flavored tea and falls terribly short of that, save when one adds sugar.
Ease Of Preparation
Orange & Spice is a tea, which means preparation is as easy as boiling a pot of water! 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. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though a second pot is pretty bad. Indeed, Orange & Spice is not a great tea to reuse with a second pot coming out about 1/2 to 3/8 as strong as the original pot!
To prepare Orange & Spice, simply boil 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 truly boiling water, the tea is ready at the three or four minute mark, but it reaches its full flavor at five minutes. However, letting the tea steep more than five minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.
Orange & Spice disappointed me the moment I poured it into the mug. Unlike other Bigelow teas with "spice" in their name, this tea had almost no aroma. I poured it while steaming and . . . it smelled only like tea. There was not even a wafting sense of orange or spices.
Orange & Spice tastes like black tea with a slightly sour aftertaste after one swallows the tea. I am used to rich orange flavors or even clove-type spices in my teas and this tea lacks anything that bold. Instead, it is dominated by the taste of tea as opposed to anything flavored. It is that type of lack of flavor that made me run from Lipton teas the moment I left my father's house many years ago. At least with the lack of orange flavor as a dominant taste, there is no aftertaste, unlike some other teas. This is just strangely bland and generic tea flavored.
However, with a teaspoon of sugar, this tea finally tastes like oranges! Strangely, the sugar cuts the tea taste and pushes it back so that one can taste the citrus flavoring of the oranges. There is still no additional flavoring of any sort of spices with the addition of sugar. Milk, unlike sugar, smothers the taste of orange flavor as opposed to enhancing it.
As well, when cold or iced, this tea is dominated by the tea flavor as opposed to any true citrus flavor. The only way to drink this with any sense of satisfaction is hot with sugar. Otherwise it could be pretty much any tea from anyone else.
It is not surprising that the dominant flavor of Orange & Spice is not particularly orange, considering that the primary ingredients are: rose hips, spices, and hibiscus. This tea uses orange peels to try to enhance the orange flavor, but given that they are below so many other ingredients on the list, it is not surprising the tea is dominated by anything but orange flavor.
Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of Orange & Spice, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, protein or caffeine.
Orange & Spice 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. If composting, though, one needs to remove the string and staple in order to insure that everything being put in your garden is actually biodegradable. This tea is fairly dark, especially at full strength and it will probably stain fabrics. However, mugs that hold the tea rinse clean. Spills ought to be cleaned up quickly to prevent this tea from staining fabrics, though that's a pretty good general rule not just limited to the Orange & Spice tea.
Orange & Spice is all right, but only with sugar and very hot. As a result, I'm easily able to recommend passing on this one. With so many other great teas out there in the world, why subject yourself to one that is not rich with flavor, or at least not piping with the fruit and spice flavor it claims to possess?
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© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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