I was bought a Fortnum & Mason tea advent calendar in 2017. I was thrilled and made notes each day about what I found hiding behind each door. I thought there was no point in doing a write-up 12 months later, but that was before I looked at the 2018 advent calendar and it was exactly the same packaging as last years “sold out” version.
I didn’t bother with the 2018 calendar – not only did it cost £25 for 24 tea bags, but whilst the 2017 calendar was a beautiful gift, I was a bit disappointed with the contents considering the price.
For a start a Tea Lover's Calendar should just contain tea, not a few tea bags and a number of herbal infusions. It should also contain 24 different teas, not various repeats. There are hundreds of teas out there, and this is not a cheap product, so I was hoping to find a few hidden gems I could purchase a caddy of when visiting F&M next time I was in London.
Let us take a trip behind each door and see what lay waiting for me on the countdown to Christmas 2017:
- Rose Pouchong – a large leafed Keemun Mao Feng tea, scented with rose petals. The Tea was redolent of Turkish Delight, or rosewater depending upon how romantic your sensibilities are. It's a new favourite for me to add to my list.
- Assam TGFOP – leaf tips of Assam tea bush – a full bodied and robust tea, perfect for that breakfast brew.
- Rhubarb & Raspberry INFUSION!
- Earl Grey – a blended black tea flavoured with bergamot oil, the quintessential afternoon tea brew…good with cake!
- Darjeeling FTGFOP – the leaf tips of Darjeeling producing a full-bodied taste reminiscent of Muscatel grapes.
- Moroccan Mint – peppermint leaves are mixed with green gunpowder tea which produces a lovely refreshing after dinner drink (great when there is so much rich food around at Christmas.)
- Countess Grey – a combination of orange pekoe tea with bergamot (I prefer this to traditional Earl Grey.)
- Liquorice, Mint & Lemon Verbena INFUSION! Tasted better than it sounded – which is good because it was duplicated on the 19th!
- Royal Blend – this traditional black tea from Ceylon and Assam was first blended for King Edward VII in 1902. It has a smooth honeyed flavour and is very palatable.
- Chai – a black tea, containing various herbs and spices – cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, cloves, star anise and fennel. A soothing tea for the stomach which, like the mint tea, is good to have at this time of year.
- English Camomile INFUSION!
- A repeat of the Royal Blend.
- A repeat of the Rose Pouching.
- Apricot, Honey & Lavender INFUSION!
- Breakfast Blend – Assam tea from Brahmaputra Valley in NE India. It’s a robust, strong, malty brew and perfect for Breakfast as it name would suggest!
- A repeat of the Moroccan Mint.
- A repeat of the Earl Grey.
- Gunpowder – a green tea which resembles gunpowder pellets. The tea is very delicate and doesn’t actually contain any gunpowder!
- A repeat of the Liquorice INFUSION.
- A repeat of the Chai.
- Sour Cherry and Orange INFUSION!
- A repeat of Darjeeling FTGFOP
- Ruby Red Christmas INFUSION!
- Christmas Tea – well it had to be didn’t it?! A black tea which has been mixed with the taste and scent of Christmas; cocoa nibs, clementine and Christmas spices. It’s a smooth and slightly tea for Christmas Eve.
Over the 24 days of the festive period, there were in fact only 11 teas to sample in a “Tea Lover's Advent Calendar.”
There were 6 infusions (one of which was duplicated) and 11 teas (6 of which were duplicated) at the cost of £25. Value for money? Not really. My stand out teas were the one’s I had not tried before; the Rose Pouchong which I now keep an eye out for if I go for an afternoon drink on a summer day; the Moroccan Mint (which has a much better punch than a traditional cup of peppermint “tea”) and the Royal Blend – something that can be pulled out for the more “traditional tea” drinker.
I rather hope the 2018 version contained more of a mix of products…but as the box was the same, I somehow doubt the contents miraculously changed into 24 unique teas to try!