Orange-clove-cinnamon Ceylons - the American Chai?
After World War II, these became a major force in the U.S. tea market, mostly following the lead of Bigelow’s “Constant Comment”. (Were they the first?)
There’s also MarketSpice from Seattle, and Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice… probably many others.
What do you think it is about that flavor combination that makes it so popular in the United States?
I’m with ya on that one. It seems to be a very popular spice blend in the states. I hate it though.
Ha! I love orange-cinnamon-clove teas, I’m on a kind of personal quest to find the best one (MarketSpice from Seattle is currently my staple).
I think it could be a couple of things that make this flavor combination so popular.
First, it reminds people of and is often marketed as a Holiday flavor. I’m not sure where the fruit-with-cinnamon-and-spices thing originates, but it’s fairly well rooted in American culture. I want to say that oranges were a typical stocking stuffer well before the US too. Any product that can emulate that relaxed, back at home feeling does really well here.
Second, I think part of it’s appeal is the number of flavor centers it hits in your mouth. You have the sweetness of the fruit, the spiciness of the cinnamon, the somewhat smokey clove, and the smooth tea base (as it’s usually made with a more mild tea base).
Those are just my thoughts. Coming from an American who considers cinnamon spice his favorite tea ;)
I tried to like the Market Spice Tea since I am completely taken by Harney’s Hot Cinnamons in all forms, but it just did not do it for me….. It looked like it had been bathed in oil. (It is the flavoring oil…I emailed to ask!)
Agree with you on this flavor profile, though. It is yummy, but to the OP, chai is an altogether different thing for me.
You say bathed in oil like it’s a bad thing ;)
I will agree that the tea is definitely off looking. I actually read your review on it shortly after trying it the first time, and had to think about that. I guess it doesn’t bother me because I know it’s the flavoring oils that does that, and it just shows how much flavoring they’re actually putting on the tea.
If I had bought like a straight black tea and it looked like that, I’d think someone was trying to poison me ;)
I personally don’t really like the “orange spice” family of teas, but I agree with the statements that they’re pretty much everywhere. I wouldn’t say that it’s the “American Chai,” simply because I’ve seen lots of true chais in stores and restaurants. It’s not like most American tea drinkers aren’t familiar with chai (even the bagged-tea-only drinkers). They just seem to really gravitate to orange spice teas. I do have to say, to someone who is a beginning tea drinker (and by “beginning,” I mean someone going from not drinking any tea to drinking a few bags here and there), the allure of it might be that it’s still a very basic tea with, as Dylan said, a very familiar and commonplace blend of flavors. Orange spice combinations can be seen in other parts of American consumer culture, like candles, scented oils, and candy, which could explain some of its continued popularity.
Frankly i dont think you can say anything is categorically American. This is a huge country with lots of diversity thus every region has its favorite flavors. Where I am the orange and spice teas are rather at the bottom in popularity. Green tea is king for many here.
When I was little around the holidays my grandmother would stick cloves into an orange – covering the entire orange with cloves. It made the house smell amazing! I have no idea where she got this idea from but her parents were Irish, my grandfather’s were Swede.
And yes as Dylan said … we too got oranges as stocking stuffers.