The Good: Naturally caffeine free, Does not taste bad (save cold), Nothing bad in it, Amazing aroma
The Bad: Dry aftertaste, Extraneous tea garbage
The Basics: One of Bigelow's more intriguing flavors, "Fruit & Almond" Herb Tea has an interesting taste, but not as fruity a flavor as one might anticipate.
Sometimes by the time I get to reviewing something, it appears to no longer be on the market. Frequently, I can find a pretty easy reason why the product might have been pulled. In the case of Bigelow Fruit & Almond Herb tea, I am at a bit of a loss. After all, one of my main critiques of many Bigelow teas has been that they do not taste like what they claim - i.e. lemon flavored teas that are dominated by the tea flavor instead of the lemon one - but Fruit & Almond tastes strongly like almonds and has a pretty impressive aroma. Unless someone was once poisoned using this particular tea - bitter almond is the supposed taste of cyanide and/or arsenic - and Bigelow stopped producing it to prevent further herbal tea homicides, I'm at a loss as to why this one is not still in wide circulation.
As it stands, I was cleaning out some cupboards at my family's home and I came across an inordinate number of these tea bags, so I figured they would not be missed. To date, they have not, though I have been enjoying my now out-of-production purloined tea!
Fruit & Almond is an herb tea from Bigelow. It is a tea is naturally caffeine free and it appears to no longer be on the market. Fruit & Almond 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 Fruit & Almond reminds me of why I like the easy environmentalism of Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags. A box of Fruit & Almond comes with 20 individually-wrapped tea bags.
Fruit & Almond is marketed as a fruit-flavored tea and it very much lives up to that, despite the way almonds and cinnamon dominate the fruit flavors. This is an intriguing blend which is much more flavorful than many of Bigelow's other teas.
Ease Of Preparation
Fruit & Almond is an herb tea, which means preparation is as easy as boiling a pot of water! Fruit & Almond is designed to be steeped for three to five minutes and I was surprised that the package did not specify boiling or not boiling water. I found no significant change in taste when the tea was brewed with boiling vs. near-boiling 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. These tea bags can be reused and the resulting beverage is about 1/2 strength and has a more potent dry aftertaste than the original brewing. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, even if only for a single pot.
To prepare Fruit & Almond, simply boil 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 boiling water, the tea is ready at the four minute mark and letting it steep longer does not truly change the results. Letting the tea steep more than five minutes does not net any additional flavor, nor does it denature the flavor of the tea.
Fruit & Almond has a powerful, robust aroma to it. Bigelow seems to go all out in creating an herb tea that one may smell from a nearby room. The scent is strongly that of cinnamon and currants. In fact, the biggest surprise to me with this tea was that there are no currants or raisins in the ingredients. And yet, the bouquet is unmistakable. This teas smells powerfully inviting.
On the tongue, this tea has the slight tart tone of fruit, but more of a cherry taste to it. The cherry taste quickly is sublimated to the dry, surprisingly forceful flavor of almonds. Lacking the expected salt one might associate with (toasted) almonds, this slightly bitter tea is best characterized by the buttery taste that flows over one's tongue in the wake of the initial fruit flavor. More than any other tea I have had in my memory, Bigelow Fruit & Almond captures the pure flavor of almond.
With a teaspoon of sugar, the flavor is usurped. Oddly, sugar seems to bring out the sweet and then consistently sour flavor of the fruit, which again seems more like cherry than any other fruit flavor. The sugar cuts into the dry almond taste and makes the beverage a bit more pleasant to drink, even though it is intriguing to begin with.
Cold, the tea is surprisingly weak, watery and dry. That dryness becomes the dominant sense of "flavor" in the beverage. This is not an ideal tea for cold tea or iced.
It is completely shocking that the dominant flavor in Fruit & Almond is either fruit or almonds as the primary ingredients are neither. The main ingredients are cinnamon, natural and artificial flavors and orange peel. As an herb tea, there is no actual tea in this beverage, nor is there any dried fruit outside the orange and nothing resembling an almond. Because of the lack of actual tea leaves, this beverage is naturally caffeine free.
Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of Fruit & Almond, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein.
Fruit & Almond is a fairly light herb tea. As a result, cleanup is rather simple, save on fabrics. The mugs and steeping pot easily rinse out. This tea will stain if it is left on light fabrics, so simply do not let the tea cups or mugs linger on light colored materials that might stain!
Fruit & Almond 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. However, like all Bigelow teas, there is extra waste from the strings, paper tabs and individual wrappings around each bag.
Fruit & Almond is worth recommending for those in the world who might still be able to find it. This herb tea is flavorful and can always be used as an air freshener after it expires!
For other Bigelow tea reviews, please check out:
Earl Grey Decaf
Decaf English Teatime
For other food and drink reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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