Brewed as per directions on container.
This is a very flavorful and interesting tea; “holiday spices meet black tea blend” would be a good description, and I find the “cheering-effect” very pleasing when served hot. I find it is also somewhat helpful in relieving minor headaches, perhaps because of the relaxing aromatic nature of the brew combined with the caffeine content in the black tea.
The leaves are mostly whole, in long, twisted strands, and in my sample there were not many stems, except for an occasional small piece. The leaf color ranges from deep, ebony brown to an much-less-represented mix of dusty yellow or faded spring green with deep brown stripes of color. The average color is between ebony and mahogany, when the spice-pieces are considered. As for the spices, most are chopped, except for the cloves which are left whole. There are also pieces of dehydrated orange-rind that range in size, but are on average the largest pieces in the tea (besides the cloves) and generously scattered throughout. Leaf feel is firm and silky, and is matte in terms of gloss or shine.
The blend is very aromatic; the dry leaves smell sweet and fruity, with strong citrus and cinnamon, clove, and vanilla—like holiday or Easter baking. Very nostalgic. The brew has a stronger smell of black tea, and the aroma of the orange and clove mellow—but are still present—as cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg-like aromas begin to present more strongly than in the dried leaves.
My palette is nowhere near trained enough yet to discern all the components of the tea blend, or to make guesses as to which teas from which regions were included, but I can say that the black tea blend shares a basic flavor profile common to other back tea blends from Peet’s—so far as I can tell. (Strong & clean, a hint of vegetal, and floral at the end.) As for the spices, they are listed in the product description, and are in balance with the tea. I think Orange, clove and cinnamon stand out to me the most, although the aftertaste is floral, vegetal and complex—there are a lot of things going on in this cup. In my opinion, the spices are most present in the aftertaste, and the tea and orange and clove tend to dominate the beginning. The middle flavors to me are the vegetal flavors of the tea blend and the cinnamon. I have to comment though, except for the aftertaste, the black tea blend is the chief flavor throughout, which is as I feel it should be.
I feel this is a great afternoon (or even dessert) tea. I think this tea is well suited to sweets, but would caution against pairing it with heavily spiced foods that might compete, contradict, or upstage the tea. (Although I could see following a lamb curry dish with this tea perhaps, and a palette cleanser.) For my taste and stomach, I think it would be a little much first thing in the morning, although I suppose that also depends on the breakfast served and the occasion. All in all, I think of this blend as being in the soothing, relaxing, reassuring category, and would pair it accordingly. (Although not with heavily savory or rich comfort-foods. Barbecue might be okay though, depending on the seasonings used.) Those are my thoughts on pairing.