Monday, January 3, 2011

Sweet Clementine Chamomile: A Fairly Pointless, Tasteless Organic Tea.

The Good: Organic (so, that's good), Does not taste bad
The Bad: Caffeine Free, Does not taste especially like clementine or any other orange.
The Basics: A mediocre, bland tea, Sweet Clementine Chamomile only seems to truly come alive when sugar is added.

A few years ago, my trip to the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder, Colorado, was dominated by the thought "what can I review?" After all, if I was simply betting on tastes, I wouldn't have been nearly as much of a slave to fashion as I may appear by some of my purchases. For example, I'm not a big "everything needs to be organic" type person, yet I found I had purchased Organic Mango Darjeeling and Organic Green Tea to review. Today when I opened the cupboard to get a new box of tea, I was greeted by Sweet Clementine Chamomile, another organic tea by Celestial Seasonings.

Unlike many of the others, I actually remember picking this box up. I lifted it off the shelf, smiled to myself and said aloud, "What are the odds?!" Chamomile teas are notoriously flavorless and though I hadn't had extensive experiences with them at that point, the organics also seem to suffer from not carrying a strong flavor. Having enjoyed any number of Celestial Seasonings' citrus teas, I picked this one up hoping is could be all forms of wonderful, but realistically thinking "it's a long shot." Having had a couple of pots, well . . . it was a longshot to begin with.


Sweet Clementine Chamomile is a tea by Celestial Seasonings. It is a 100% natural herb tea that has been certified organic by the USDA and Quality Assurance International, Inc. I had not heard of that organization before starting to review Organic teas, but it does seem to be the standard for certified organic products.

Sweet Clementine Chamomile is obviously trading on being flavored like clementine oranges. The orange flavor is present, though it is a very minimal taste. Organic Sweet Clementine Chamomile comes in Celestial Seasonings's standard box of twenty tea bags. These tea bags are not encumbered by strings and paper, so the tea bags come in pairs that are perforated between them. The box of twenty tea bags has ten pairs of stringless tea bags.

Ease Of Preparation

Organic Sweet Clementine Chamomile is a tea, so it is not terribly difficult to make. One needs only boiling water, a pot or cup and a little bit of patience. I tend to make my tea in a 32 oz. steeping pot and use two tea bags per steeping. Those making it in the standard tea cup or mug would be filling it with approximately eight ounces of water. Unlike many chamomile teas, this one does state to use boiling water, as opposed to near-boiling water.

Preparation is simple: boil water and pour it over the tea bags in the cup or steeping pot. The directions indicate that with properly boiling water, this tea will be ready to drink after four minutes and the directions have six minutes as the upward limit. With a pretty roaring boil, I've found that the tea is ready at the four minute mark without any real problems. In fact, I've found the flavor does not concentrate more at or after the six minute mark. This tea is not a great one for reusing the tea bags; a second pot yielded a tea that was about 1/4 strong as the first pot and given how weak that was, reusing the bags yields little more than colored water. When I have removed the tea bags from the pot after only four minutes, I haven't been able to make a second pot that is any more than 3/8 (less than 1/2 for sure!) strong as the original pot.


First, my low expectations for the potential of this tea were met right off the bat by the aroma. The bouquet of this tea is that of chamomile, not clementines. As a result, this smells more like rice water than it does oranges. That's a bad sign for most teas because the fruit flavored ones that can be overwhelmed by chamomile tend to be the very weak ones. Sadly, this is true of Sweet Clementine Chamomile.

In its natural form, Sweet Clementine Chamomile would more properly called "Chamomile with a hint of clementines." The orange flavoring is heavily sublimated below the rather generic and zestless chamomile taste. In other words, this tea is bland, terribly bland.

With sugar, the fruit flavor gets a chance to shine. In addition to bringing out the sweetness of a clementine orange, there is a little zing from the orange aftertaste. How sugar can help bring a sour aftertaste to a tea is something of a mystery to me, but it happens here. With just a little sugar, this tea actually tastes like what it claims to be.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the addition of milk. With milk, Sweet Clementine Chamomile is overwhelmed with blandness. Yes, the milk has more of a flavor than the tea. That's just sad. Similarly, when cold, the sour aftertaste (whether sugar was added or not) comes through with the tea flavor more, without actually tasting especially like clementines.


Like all Celestial Seasonings teas, there is nothing bad in the ingredients to Organic Sweet Clementine Chamomile tea. That the orange flavoring does not come out as strong as the other flavorings is a bit of a surprise considering that the top three ingredients in this tea are: organic chamomile, organic orange peel, and organic hibiscus. That orange peel ought to overwhelm the chamomile flavor, so one suspects by the taste that there is a huge difference in quantity between the first and subsequent ingredients! Additional natural clementine flavoring falls even below chicory in the ingredients!

That said, there is nothing bad in Sweet Clementine Chamomile tea. Of course, in a serving there is not truly enough of anything to be of nutritious value either. A serving contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates or protein. As well, this tea is Gluten free and Kosher. What it does have is a miniscule amount of caffeine! In an 8 oz. cup, there is approximately one milligrams of caffeine, which allows the tea to be considered caffeine free. This is not going to wake anyone up.


Like almost all Celestial Seasonings teas, Organic Sweet Clementine Chamomile has its tea bags in the wax paper bag that Celestial Seasonings teas are known for. So long as the tea remains wrapped in that paper bag inside the box, the tea remains fresh for quite some time (truth be told, I've no idea how to tell if tea has gone stale). After finishing making Sweet Clementine Chamomile, the tea bags can simply be tossed in the trash or the contents of the bags can be emptied into a compost pile for great organic material for the garden!

As for the tea, Sweet Clementine Chamomile is one of the lighter teas from Celestial Seasonings and it is hard to imagine it might stain fabrics it comes into contact with, but they ought to be cleaned off anyway should the tea get on them. The tea cleans off other surfaces with a cloth and vessels that hold the liquid ought not to stain from it or leave any residual flavor in it that cannot be cleaned out.


Sweet Clementine Chamomile is more bland than sweet until sugar is added, just as it is more clementine flavored with sugar. On its own, it is terribly bland, and, well, chamomile. A tough sell to get excited about.

For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out:
Decaf China Pearl White
Red Zinger
African Orange Mango Rooibos


For other beverage and food reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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

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