Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Average "Gingerbread Spice" Might Not Taste Like Gingerbread, But At Least It Has Flavor!

The Good: Excellent aroma, Good taste (hot or cold), Nothing bad in it.
The Bad: Doesn't quite taste like gingerbread, Caffeine Free.
The Basics: In a tea that smells like what it should, but does not taste like Gingerbread, I discovered a delightful tea, that's just shy of living up.

I'm a pretty strict grader as a reviewer, which is how I illustrate some semblance of discrimination in what I review. I try to challenge myself by reviewing the good and the bad and I truly do consider that most of my experiences in life are likely to end up as average. Sure, Mystic River probably is more than a 5 out of 10 movie, but with its cast, we expect great things, so ultimately when it merely lives up with the performances, the viewer is not wowed. In beginning now to review things like Celestial Seasonings teas here on the site, I'm working hard to maintain that same level of quality in my reviews and become a trustworthy source on this topic as well.

The litmus test for me will always come down to taste. Does the tea taste like what it claims to be? Answering that question will always be paramount to my recommending or not (indeed, under that criteria, I cannot think of a flavored coffee that would actually get a "recommend" from me!). How, then, does a tea that does not quite taste like Gingerbread, rate so highly with me? Why not read on and find out?


Gingerbread Spice is a Holiday Herb Tea from Celestial Seasonings. This Herb tea is 100% natural and as a result is caffeine free - none of the ingredients in it had caffeine to begin with so it did not undergo any chemical process to remove them. This is a rather strong tea and it has a great cinnamon aroma. Celestial Seasonings releases this great flavor every year in winter, though it appears to be available year round in Boulder and on-line (Check out your supermarket's "clearance" aisle right after the holiday, for some reason most places think on December 26 that this is unsellable!).

Gingerbread Spice 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 Gingerbread Spice comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.

Ease Of Preparation

Gingerbread Spice is your standard herbal tea (though as an interesting side note, there is not a single tea leaf listed in the ingredients, so maybe under the Truth In Advertising Law this ought to be a "Holiday Herbal Drink") and is prepared like a normal herbal or black tea. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea and could be reused and make a second cup of Gingerbread Spice with almost no loss of flavor. This might be the best tea for a miser who reuses tea bags. The second cup often comes out as strong as the first, provided the first steeping was not more than the recommended upper recommended steeping time of six minutes. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though a second pot with the same bags will come out about 3/4 strength (though the aroma will remain as potent).

To prepare Gingerbread Spice tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. It ought to go without saying that the tea bags ought to be in a mug or steeping pot or something other than the box they come in, but I mention that anyway because . . . well, I like to assume the best about people, but who truly reads the directions for tea in reality? This tea takes four to six minutes to steep according to the directions and if the water is truly boiling, I've found it comes out strong at the four minute point without needing any additional time. After six minutes, though, the flavor does not concentrate any more so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that. As mentioned before, this tea has a similar flavor on a second brewing, lending extra value to the tea bags.


Like a movie with a great cast that I've heard good things about, I want to like Gingerbread Spice tea, but here's where it does not quite live up. It smells like gingerbread. Absolutely. If you have strong memories of baking gingerbread cookies at the holidays and want to evoke those emotions, put a pot of this on. This smells exactly like gingerbread.

But it doesn't taste like it. The dominant flavors are the cinnamon and chicory, but it just does not taste like gingerbread. Celestial Seasonings got the "Spice" portion of the name right, but not the "Gingerbread." It's flavorful like a weak cinnamon coffee, but it's just not gingerbread. Adding sugar. . . enhances the cinnamon flavor, still not gingerbread flavor. Adding milk, this is one of the few flavors of tea that holds its flavor fully with milk, it tastes almost like a chi latte, but still not Gingerbread. Had they named it "Cinnamon Campfire," this would have been an 8 and a "recommend."

But it's not, it's (supposedly) Gingerbread Spice.

Cold, the tea is fine, though the flavor of chicory comes through more making the overall flavor more woody, nutty than the cinnamon that is dominant when the tea is hot. It's fine cold, for those who like cold tea, but I definitely like it (very) hot better. In the directions, it mentions milk may be added and that does nothing negative to this tea either chemically or tastewise.


The ingredients to this tea could be used to make a potpourri and are very simple and natural. The top three are cinnamon, ginger and roasted chicory. There is nothing unpronouncable in this tea (though some may have fun wrapping their mouth around saying "luo han guo) and it is 100% natural. For those concerned, hidden away on the bottom is the warning that this tea may contain gluten. That makes me wonder - how can they not know if it does or not?!

In terms of nutrition, this tea completely lacks it. One 8 oz. mug of this tea provides nothing of nutritional value to the drinker. There are no calories (save what one adds from sugar or milk), no fat, sodium, or protein and no caffeine. This is not a tea where caffeine from the beverage will wake one up, but the aroma is pleasant - and strong - enough that it just might!


Gingerbread Spice tea is very 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. The tea itself is a rather dark tea and might stain delicate fabrics, so if it spills, it ought to be cleaned right off things like tablecloths or wedding dresses.


Gingerbread Spice is a good tea; it tastes good and given the chance to pick some up on clearance, I know I will. The problem is, it just doesn't taste like what it's supposed to. It has a wonderful cinnamon and spice flavor to it, but it does not live up to its name and that's what earns it the "not recommend." It should be noted, I'm on the fence about that and if one is content with a tea that smells like it is supposed to (as opposed to taste like what it says it will) then this might be sufficient for you.

For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
English Toffee
Goji Pomegranate Green


For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page!

© 2011, 2008, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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