Sunday, January 13, 2013

Getting The Holiday Dollars While They Can, Bigelow’s Apple Cider Tea Does Not Stand Up!

The Good: Nothing terrible in it, Easy to make, Smells like delightful spices
The Bad: Caffeine free, A lot of extra waste, Tastes far less like apple cider than it ought to!
The Basics: Bigelow’s seasonally-available Apple Cider tea is not flavorful enough to make it worth hunting down, even on clearance after the season!

It always surprises me, I’m not sure exactly why I am so easily surprised by it, when I discover a new to me apple flavored tea from one of the major tea manufacturers. I suspect my surprise comes from the fact that I enjoy apple flavored teas, so when I first started reviewing teas, I was eager to try a number of different apple teas and I thought I hit most of the major flavors from all of the major tea manufacturers. So, after Halloween, when I was out shopping, when I discovered the Apple Cider tea from Bigelow, I was pleasantly surprised.

My surprise quickly turned to disappointment when I tried the tea and found it to be thoroughly underwhelming on the taste front. At its best, it rose to the scent of spiced apple cider, at its worst, it had a sour aftertaste that made one forget the pleasant scent that the drinking experience began with!


Apple Cider is an all natural tea from Bigelow. It is a hibiscus-based tea that lacks caffeine and has a fair apple scent when steaming. Apple Cider 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 Apple Cider reminds me of why I like the easy environmentalism of Celestial Seasonings' stringless bags. A box of Apple Cider comes with 20 individually-wrapped tea bags.

Apple Cider is marketed as an apple and cinnamon flavored tea and it lives up to that though it is a bit weaker than other brands of apple cinnamon tea I have tried.

Ease Of Preparation

Apple Cider 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, Apple Cider 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, and the sour aftertaste amplified!

To prepare Apple Cider, 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.


Bigelow’s Apple Cider tea was shockingly light on the aroma front. The scent of cinnamon is faint coming off the steam in the mug and there is almost no scent of apple in this tea. That made me concerned as the smell of this tea is more of apple cider spices than spiced apple cider.

Feeling trepidations from the lack of fruit in the bouquet, I was unsurprised when the tea tasted almost nothing like apple cider. The dominant flavor is fruity, but it never becomes strong, flavorful, or distinct enough to actually be apple-flavored. In fact, the fruit flavor is cut by an unfortunately unpleasant sour aftertaste that makes the tea taste like it might have been Granny Smith apples used to make it! Either way, the unpleasant aftertaste lingers while the primary flavor of cinnamon, spices, and generic fruity sweetness dissipates.

With a teaspoon of sugar, the aftertaste is cut and the overall tea sweetens to where it is, at the very least, palatable. It never becomes truly better than that.


It is surprising that the dominant flavor of the Apple Cider tea is not actually apple, considering that the primary ingredients are: apples, hibiscus, and cinnamon. There is nothing unpronounceable in this tea’s ingredients.

Were it not for the sugar I add whenever I make pots of Apple Cider, this tea would be devoid of any nutritional value, save 1% of one’s RDA of Potassium. It contains no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, protein or caffeine. As well, this tea is gluten-free and Kosher.


Apple Cider 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 surprisingly light, especially at full strength, though it will probably stain light-colored fabrics. However, mug that holds 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 Apple Cider tea.


Seasonally-available teas are a real catch-22; they offer tea connoisseurs something limited that is either worth hunting down, but one invariably pays full price, or else is available at clearance prices after the holidays, usually indicating that those who might actually appreciate such things rejected it as unworthy. The Apple Cider tea from Bigelow falls into that latter category; the novelty the name promises is not lived up to in the execution of the tea, making it impossible to recommend.

For other Bigelow tea reviews, please check out:
Fruit & Almond
Raspberry Royale
Earl Grey Decaf


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

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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