All the Teas in the Fortnum & Mason Advent Calendar Ranked

Doretta Lau tastes sixteen teas in the days leading up to Christmas (spoilers ahead)

One of my colleagues knows I’m not supposed to have sugar, so he bought me a Fortnum & Mason Christmas Tea Lover’s Advent Calendar. What a delight! Yes, I know this is bougie AF. Plus I add almond or cashew milk because I have an allergy to the protein in milk and an intolerance to soy, so I know this post may also read Goop AF. (Note that I am very anti-diet for personal and political reasons.) Judge all you want. I’d give myself side eye if that was possible because my fridge is filled with filtered water, dried legumes, and woo.

What really matters is I’m all about finding what is most delicious and reporting the facts to you.

1. Rose Pouchong (Day One and Thirteen)

I don’t know if it was the pleasure of the opening up the door on the very first day, but the Rose Pouchong is so dreamy that I looked to see if I could purchase it to drink every day. I had it black and it made my morning glorious. Once, I ate sugared rose petals in a restaurant in the English countryside and I still remember that it was delicious; this tea brings me back to that moment. Anyhow, even the description of the Rose Pouchong is a thing of beauty:

Fine grade, large-leaf Maofeng Keemum is naturally scented with fresh-picked rose petals, creating a delicate tea redolent of Turkish Delight.

Give that copywriter a raise. Though as M. Paramita Lin points out, Turkish Delight is the most disappointing thing from Narnia, but that’s another story.

2. Assam Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (Day Two)

I had this tea black with Medjool dates and an avocado because the copy informed me that it is “an ideal companion to a really special breakfast.” (My usual morning meal is a smoothie. Yes, I know dates are very high in sugar, I made a judgement error and bought a box and now my skin hates me.) Perhaps a more savoury breakfast would have been a better pairing, but I was still really pleased.

3. Countess Grey (Day Seven)

This is Earl Grey with an orangey kick. I had it with almond milk and stevia and enjoyed it.

4. Earl Grey (Day Four and Seventeen)

I have a tin of this and the loose tea is better than the tea bag. Fortnum & Mason produces best Earl Grey I’ve had, so this was a good tea day. The Countess Grey is more memorable, but this has the comfortable flavour of habit and routine.

5. Gunpowder (Day Eighteen)

This green tea is delicate and flavourful. (Meaning it tastes expensive.) I love the copy for it:

Resembling gunpowder pellets before they’re brewed, watch as they uncurl in the pot and produce an unexpectedly peaceful and delicate tea.

6. Moroccan Mint (Day Six and Sixteen)

The box said this tea is “ideal after dinner” so I waited all day and had it as I was finishing up some answers to an interview. It was light and refreshing. I’d prefer to drink it in the late afternoon, right before the four p.m. slump.

7. Royal Blend (Day Nine and Twelve)

On its own, this tea blew out my taste buds. But as soon as I added almond milk and stevia, I understood its appeal: it holds up well as a sweet milky hot beverage. I drank it while eating a chocolate muffin from Hawkr. (And now my skin is itchy, but I’m going to chalk this up as worth it.) This tin alone is enough to make me want to purchase it. I am such a sucker for packaging.

8. Breakfast Blend (Day Fifteen)

Again, I would not drink this black. It definitely requires milk and a hint of sweetness. The caffeine levels means that it’s definitely best for morning consumption.

9. Apricot, Honey, and Lavender Infusion (Day Fourteen)

The honey and lavender balance out the apricot so perfectly. For this this is more of a floral tea than a fruit tea, which I liked.

10. Darjeeling Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe Tea (Day Five and Twenty-Two)

I don’t really remember this tea, but it went well with almond milk and stevia. Then I went to the F&M website and damn, they know how to sell:
The champagne of teas, our Darjeeling Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe Tea – an incredibly high tea grade – is harvested from Himalayan bushes more than a century old. Smooth and drinkable, it is a perfect partner to sweet desserts like cheesecake or trifle.
I started to think, did I not give this tea its due? This, friends, is the power of excellent marketing copy.

11. Chai (Day Ten and Twenty)

I used cashew milk because there was no almond milk at the store, which may have thrown off the flavour a bit. Had this not been called chai, I think I would have liked it more, but instead I thought of every single better tasting chai I’ve had in my entire life. (It’s not a good thing when the food court chai at Tinseltown in Vancouver ranks higher in my memory.) For the home drinking experience, I prefer the taste of Yogi’s Chai Rooibos, which is caffeine free, and packs more of a punch.

12. Christmas Tea (Day Twenty-Four)

I don’t know if I didn’t steep this tea properly, but it didn’t make much of an impression owing to the fact that it wasn’t very strong. I may have expected too much because I kept thinking, “This is going to be some special Christmas Tea.”

13. Liquorice, Mint, and Lemon Verbena Infusion (Day Eight and Nineteen)

On first sip I didn’t like this tea. Then I had it after a Medjool date and it was perfect, so I recommend having it with dessert.

14. Rhubarb, Raspberry, and Nettle Infusion (Day Three)

I usually hate fruit teas, but this one was better than most. I would drink it again, without complaint, but I wouldn’t buy an entire box of it.

15. Christmas Ruby Red Infusion (Day Twenty-Three)

This tea did not excite me. The combination of plums, cloves, cinnamon, and rosehip sounds lovely, but the flavours don’t really come through.

16. Sour Cherry and Orange Infusion (Day Twenty-One)

This one is truly disgusting. I took three sips and couldn’t drink the rest.

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