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One popular variation on traditional black tea calls for a blend of orange zest or dried peel and a combination of spices, including cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. The finished product is known as orange spice tea, and is often sold in loose leaf or bag forms in gourmet tea and coffee shops. It can also be found on grocery store shelves, possibly under specialty labels such as Celestial Seasonings.
Recipes vary widely, although the one constant is the use of orange zest or dried orange peel. The zest or peel is generally blended with black tea leaves to form the tea base. From that point, any number of spice combinations are possible. Some of the most basic recipes call for only the addition of ground or whole cloves to create the warm spicy undertones. Cinnamon is also mentioned as the sole spice in some recipes.
Although cloves and cinnamon definitely impart a strong spice flavor to orange spice tea, many people use other spices to create a more complex beverage. Ground nutmeg or allspice may also be blended with black tea and dried orange peel to create a satisfying beverage. This tea blend is not the same as chai, which often contains black pepper and other more exotic spices.
There is also a popular powdered drink mix which many people call orange spice tea or Russian tea. This drink mix consists of a powdered orange breakfast drink blended with powdered instant tea mix. Several different spices, primarily cinnamon, clove, allspice and/or nutmeg, can be added to the dry mix to create a low-cost alternative to commercial blends. This form of tea can also be packaged as a holiday gift, since it has a fairly long shelf life if stored properly.
Orange spice tea is considered to be one of the best choices for those who are new to the idea of gourmet tea blends. It can be consumed hot or iced. Some consumers may want to add milk and honey for a sweeter and smoother consistency.