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English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Days 18 & 25
Oh yes, I am indeed rating an advent tea today! Haha. I’m finally almost done with my English Tea Shop advent. It was a thoughtful gift to receive, but I wasn’t impressed with the tea itself. This one was unobjectionable but underwhelming. There’s black tea and rooibos, which intrigues me. I guess I do get a bit of a medicinal rooibos as it cools, but otherwise it’s mostly a dusty black tea with a bit of creaminess and some clove. It does not remind me of an Irish holiday in any sense of the phrase. :D
Flavors: Creamy, Dust, Medicinal
This has been the only tea I’ve had rooibos in it that I actually liked. The flavors were well balanced. I hate that it’s only available in an advent calendar. It defies marketing logic to make something with only a single tea bag and customers can’t find the tea afterwards. I hope they wise up and sell this tea on its own.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Rooibos
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Day 15
I accidentally over-steeped this one while puttering this evening, so I’ll abstain from rating it! It smelled really nice, with sweet berry notes, but there’s a bitter, metallic edge to it that I assume is because I over-steeped it. Or maybe that’s what garcinia fruit tastes like?!
Flavors: Berry, Fruity, Metallic, Sweet
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Days 12 & 22
I am woefully behind on my notes for this calendar, but it’s partially because they keep repeating teas!
Day 12 was the first time for this one, though. I’ve got a nostalgic love for any kind of Candy Cane Lane-inspired tea, so I was pleased to see this one. Unsurprisingly, the ingredient list is chock full of random garbage that does not need to be there, but apparently that’s English Tea Shop’s MO.
Anyway, yep, this was a wholly inoffensive minty green tea. No flavors really stand out, and it could do with more of a creamy vanilla flavor to evoke a candy cane/peppermint candy, but it’s fine. Not a best in show when it comes to this flavor profile, but entirely drinkable.
Edit: This one showed up again on day 22, and I’m getting more of the creamy vanilla flavor today. Upping my rating accordingly!
Flavors: Creamy, Peppermint, Vanilla
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Day 10
#1: If I were a Spice Girl, this is 100% the name I’d use!
#2: …why is there a second Halloween-sounding blend in this advent? We already had Ghostly Green!
#3: ………why are there so many teas in this calendar that are just iterations of the same ingredients?! I can’t tell this one apart from the other three or four similarly flavored blends. It’s also just a muddled mess. I don’t understand the point.
Last tea of the advent calendar! Woohoo!
This is described on the box as ‘organic rooibos herbal tea with ginger, cocoa, star anise and mace’, but honestly all I taste is the rooibos. There’s maybe a slight hint of cocoa melding with the woody rooibos, and a bit of a spicy kick at the end though I can’t actually taste the ginger. I think I detect a very slight whisper of star anise if I go searching for it, but really that’s just because I’m looking, and that goes for all of the flavours I’ve mentioned. I think if somebody gave me this and told me it was a straight-up rooibos, I would believe them.
It’s a shame to end the calendar on such a womp womp , but to be honest it pretty much summarises my overall experience with it. Aside from the Chai Charge which was a rooibos and garlic mess, nothing has been too offensive, but nothing has stood out either. In a way, this ‘rooibos with a hundred additives that results in a cup that tastes like a plain rooibos’ is a fitting way for the advent to fizzle out.
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Days 7 & 11
I’m a big fan of Halloween/winter holiday/Christmas crossovers (Spookmas!), but even I don’t understand why this one is in a “festive” advent calendar. Is it referencing the ghosts from A Christmas Carol?! Maybe. As Nattie pointed out when this one came up in her advent, the palate and name are eerily (heh) similar to 52Teas’ Graveyard Mist. The latter quickly became one of my favorite teas when I tried it earlier this year, so I was curious how this one would match up.
Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t hold a [flickering, drippy] candle to Graveyard Mist. I’m actually getting only a tiny amount of mintiness. I can maaaaybe smell a little cinnamon if I concentrate really hard, but there is no rose or ginger at all. Why are they even in there?! Even the green base is flavorless. And I’m pretty sure it’s not covid talking, because I have been smelling and tasting other things all day long.
Edit: OK, now that it has cooled down a LOT, I’m getting a more noticeable creamy mint flavor. But still not much.
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Days 6 & 8
Huh. For a blend with SO. MANY. INGREDIENTS, I’m just… not getting much flavor. It smells gently spiced and pleasant enough, but it doesn’t taste like much of anything! There’s maaaybe a little fruitiness from the pomegranate or the lemongrass, but… that’s pretty much it. It actually reads as grape to me more than anything else. The spices are entirely missing, and even the green base is not doing much of anything. Meh.
Flavors: Fruity, Grapes
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Days 5 & 13
Heavy on the lemongrass, with a bit of tang from the hibiscus, and a slightly musty floral note, probably from the chamomile. Not sure what’s tropical about it or what the peppermint is doing! I feel like a lot of these English Tea Shop advent blends are just a mish-mash of ingredients, most of which get lost in the mix.
Flavors: Chamomile, Hay, Hibiscus, Lemongrass, Musty, Tangy
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Day 4
Well, well, well. Having just sipped a tisane that purported to be apple-flavored but was almost entirely hibiscus, I now turn my attention to a tisane that purports to be peach-flavored but lists hibiscus as the first ingredient!
So there is no real peach in the ingredient list, just the opaque “natural flavourings.” Yet peach is definitely the dominant scent pre-brewing. Those natural flavourings are powerful indeed!
Steeped, the peach scent fades a bit, but the flavor remains. The hibiscus gives it a tart kick, but it’s not as overwhelming as I’d feared. The overall effect is something like a sour peach candy. Could be worse!
Flavors: Candy, Hibiscus, Peach, Sour
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Days 3 & 9
A very sparse note because I drank this tea while doing schoolwork for my grad program early this morning and the details have faded from my memory after a fairly eventful day. (Had to go get a walk-in PCR test because my partner just tested positive for covid, agghhh. Then had to take my cat to the vet for a curbside appointment because she scratched herself on the face and got a fairly nasty wound… but apparently it looks worse than it is! Plus, y’know, I was working all day.)
Anyway, I mostly remember this tea being more generically spice-y than strong on the star anise. It was kind of similar to the Festive Spice blend from yesterday, come to think of it. Wholly unremarkable!
Flavors: Spices, Star Anise
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Days 2 & 21
This is a perfectly serviceable, spice-heavy, easy drinker! There’s a nice little hint of orange peel that gives it some zing, although I think it could use a heavier hand with that flavor. Everything else is pretty well-balanced; I’m getting cinnamon and clove, with a little heat from the black pepper. The black base is a bit drying and a little thin; I’d be OK with something more assertive.
I WAY over-steeped this one the first time, but it still tasted good! I left the tea bag in after the second steep because it was too weak even after 5-6 minutes.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Drying, Orange, Pepper, Spices
Don’t ask me what a tea called ‘ghostly green’ is doing in a Christmas advent calendar, when it seems like it should belong with some Halloween theme, but whatever the reason I’ll take it because I actually like this! I came downstairs for lunch and found the kettle still warm, so being too lazy to re-boil it just to let it cool again, I used the water that was already in, and I’m pretty sure it was too cool. Maybe that was key, because although a light brew, this is tasty! It’s a creamy mint, a profile which I love, on a green base which I don’t, but the base isn’t very prominent and because of the cool steep there’s no astringency at all. It reminds me a bit of 52teas Graveyard Mist – a favourite of mine – only not as good. Also the name is kind of similar, huh? Hmm… I resteeped in boiling water and there’s still no astringency, and I’m happy to report it holds up well! The leaf is actually quite large, which might account for the lack of astringency, but I can see something mixed in with it that looks like pieces of cinnamon bark (I don’t have the ingredients handy to check), and whatever it is it’s not coming through at all. I suspect there might be a few redundant ingredients in the mix, if the previous blends are anything to go by. This is definitely one of my favourites from the calendar.
English Tea Shop Advent Calendar: Day 1
I’ve never tried anything from this brand, but my partner’s mom gifted me their advent calendar this year, so I guess I’ll be trying quite a few blends!
So this one is a rooibos-based chai that includes garlic among its many ingredients. I ended up letting it get far too cool before drinking it because I was trying to wrangle my very needy pets, so I’m probably not giving it a fair shake. But I’m mostly getting a weak rooibos flavor with only a smidge of other spices, followed by a mild garlic burn. It’s just kind of muddy overall. Not something I’d seek out again, but not overly offensive.
Flavors: Garlic, Mud, Rooibos
This was in the advent calendar two days running, and because I’m just drinking through it and ignoring the dates, that means I had it twice in one morning. I’m not complaining though, because I didn’t really fancy anything else, and I quite enjoyed it both times. As I was drinking my first mug, I noticed some astringency and wished I’d added a splash of milk. So when I saw it in the next slot of the calendar, I remedied that and made my second cup with milk. I enjoyed it both times, but I think the winner was with milk, as the black tea is quite robust and not a particularly nuanced one that loses anything with the addition of milk. There’s a gorgeous, sweet aroma coming from the steeping leaf that makes me think it’s going to be a dessert-type tea, but it doesn’t quite come through in the sip. It is a little more mellow than most ‘spice’ blends, and possibly has a touch of vanilla in there. The cinnamon is also quite forward, making it feel on the sweeter side of chai. Not one I would buy, but one I will happily sip on on this cold December morning.
Lo and behold, another winner from the advent calendar! Two in one day, how thrilling! Despite the name, this isn’t particularly minty. It’s billed as a ‘green tea with cinnamon, peppermint and liquorice’, but weirdly I taste melon?? The cinnamon is, big surprise, almost non-existent, but the liquorice comes through towards the back end of the sip, and it’s a liquorice root sort of liquorice, not black liquorice. While I’m happy about that because I’m not a black liquorice fan, it does get a little too sweet as the cup cools. Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with this one!
When I typed the name of this tea into the Steepster search bar, only one tea came up – something called ‘Lemongrass Peppermint Tropical Punch’ by the same company. Like many of these advent calendar blends, I suspect that they’ve renamed it for this ‘organic’ version and that it’s essentially the same tea, particularly as peppermint features heavily in the ingredients list of this blend.
This is a very average tea, but because my expectations were so low after the other teas in the calendar, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It’s essentially a fruity lemongrass tisane, though since the only fruit in here is apple (which is definitely recognisable as apple and can’t pass as something more exotic) it is beyond me why they decided to label it ‘tropical’, making me expect something like mango or papaya. Maybe it’s the addition of hibiscus which inspired the name, but all this really does is add a characteristic metallic hint to the end of the sip so I almost wish it wasn’t included. Despite being high on the ingredients list – 2nd after lemongrass – peppermint is barely discernable until the end of the sip, and it’s definitely more earthy than minty here. Chamomile is also listed in the ingredients, but isn’t noticeable at all. As it cools, the hibiscus becomes more noticeable, so it’s definitely best drank hot if you’re not a hibby fan.
Overall, I wouldn’t buy this, but it’s better than most of the advent calendar teas have been, and fine as an accompaniment for the Cajun chicken flatbread I’m having for lunch.
I’m ready to scream, why is everything in this advent calendar so samey?! Generic, astringent green tea base, with the same blend of chai-style ‘holiday’ spices as all of the others, and again I can’t taste any of them. I’m drinking this at the same time as an iced black coffee, and the coffee is genuinely more enjoyable. It certainly has more flavour.
It seems they’re just swapping one or two of the spices around without much thought and calling it a day for the majority of these teas. I’ve just counted from the ingredients breakdown on the back, and 7 of them sound extremely similar, which is not good considering they’re doubled up and there are only 13 ‘unique’ teas in the whole calendar, so that accounts for half of them! I don’t think I’ve tried them all yet, but so far there have only been one or two I’ve truly enjoyed, while the majority have been just this average blend of disappointing nothingness.
This rant is aimed more at the calendar than the tea itself, which is just the latest of these blurring together of samey teas, but it is probably the worst one yet. Maybe I’ll be in a better mood when I drink the second bag of this and able to give it a more constructive review, but for now I’ll just say that at least the box is pretty.
I’ve just remembered the garlic tea. Never mind, it’s the second worst.
Another nice one from the advent calendar! You can’t really go wrong with a green mint tea. This one has a decent amount of mint without being overpowering, and there’s a hint of creamy sweetness rounding it out from the vanilla. There’s not as much green tea in the blend, it looks like it’s about 50/50 tea and mint leaves, and I think that’s a decent proportion. The green tea is definitely present, and gives the tea body, but it’s not astringent and just buoys up the creamy mint, which is the star of the show. As with the other teas in the calendar, there are a whole bunch of completely unnecessary ingredients which add nothing at all to the flavour, and just seem like a waste of time. The cinnamon, orange peel and chicory don’t come out at all. I’ve had better ‘candy cane’ type teas in the past, but I wouldn’t complain about drinking this again.
I don’t know what I did differently, but this is much nicer than the cup I had a couple of days ago! Maybe I used cooler water this time (I have to eyeball it since my temperature-variable kettle is packed away in the garage), but the green tea is less astringent, and the fruitiness comes through a lot more. I still wouldn’t say it tastes like pomegranate, more like blackcurrant, but it’s actually quite prominent and makes for an enjoyable cup. Still no sign of the spices anywhere, I have no idea why they bothered to add so many. Bumping my rating up from 52 because I’m actually quite enjoying it this time!
Of all of the English Tea Shop advent teas I’ve tried so far, I think this has the longest list of ingredients, and most of them are completely undetectable. I’ve also noticed that a lot of them are quite similar in their ingredients, so I’m not too impressed with this one. The green tea base is weirdly more astringent than the last one was, I was hoping that a longer steep would bring out some more of the flavours but in the end I had to take the teabag out as the astringency was becoming more prominent. It’s mostly an average green tea with some nondescript fruitiness which I wouldn’t say tastes like pomegranate. I can kind of smell the cinnamon, and if I concentrate really hard I can just about convince myself that I can taste it, but the rest of the huge long list of ingredients fades into nothingness. Not my favourite!