The first thing you’ll probably notice about the tea is the smell. It’s pretty much just citrus when dry, but when brewed and hot, it smells like some kind of beautiful cake. I couldn’t stop smelling it. It smells like cinnamon and orange and something vanilla-like. It’s such a good smell! Unfortunately, the flavour isn’t really a match for it. I’m sad about that, because if it were, I could drink it all day.
For me, the tea required more steeping than recommended. This may have been problematic: some reviews elsewhere said it needed no sweetening because of the licorice, but I beg to differ— mine was bitter and the flavour was just kind of dull with no sweetener, and the spices weren’t being brought out. When sweetened, the cinnamon and liquorice spice element can’t be ignored whereas before it was kind of just a nondescript spicy, herbal “vibe.” I think mostly this tea is yet another reflection of the fact that orange and spice consistently mix badly in teas. That’s unexpected (they can mix well in baking and perfumery, for instance), but this is not the first time I’ve felt this way. On that note, maybe part of my negative impression is based on the fact that it reminds me of Teekanne’s Oriental Spice Tea, which was literally the worst tea I’ve ever had in my life. Fortunately, this tea was nowhere near the trainwreck that was, but the base flavours of orange, cinnamon, and vanilla are common to the two. I’m going to try to stop thinking about that fact now, because the memory of the Teekanne tea seriously haunts me and it’s making me disgusted.
This tea has some stellar reviews around the Net, but I found it just okay. It wasn’t unpleasant or undrinkable, but the large amounts of liquorice and cinnamon gave it kind of a herbal, bitter, spicy, medicinal taste. At times some of those characteristics can be positive, but when you combine them all, as has been done here, I don’t think it’s a recipe for success. One strange thing was that, and I don’t know if it was just the combination of the spices or something, I could’ve sworn something tasted a bit cardamom-y. Normally, that would appeal to me, but in this kind of brew, it wasn’t a selling point. Those strong, medicinal-smelling spices like cardamom or liquorice with chai spices and soy milk? Sign me up. Those spices in a thinner, bitter brew? Hmmm, I’ll pass.
If I had some of this tea given to me (or got another couple of bags of it in a Kusmi selection pack), I’d drink it (because it’s not too bad and I love tea), but I wouldn’t buy a tin of it based on what I’ve tasted (based on what I’ve smelled? Well….) It wasn’t wholly unappealing, so if strong spices with some orange sound good to you, you should still give it a try.