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Tea Clipper rose The Right Roses review English roses David Austin gardening english garden
'Rose Review' Series Color: Apricot & Orange David Austin roses Disease resistance: Good Flowering: Repeat flowering Fragrance: strong Ideal: Very few thorns Rose: Shrub rose Shrub size: Medium (4 ft)

Tea Clipper Rose Review | David Austin 2006

Tea Clipper rose

USD 29

Fragrance Strength


Repeat Flowering


Bloom Size




Suitable for containers


Tolerant of shade


Disease resistance


Tolerance of poor soil


Few thorns


Best for cuttings



  • Beautiful name
  • Absolutely gorgeous, quartered-rosette blooms
  • Strong fragrance
  • Relatively healthy
  • Thornless


  • Very stingy with blooms
  • Her blooms blow away very quickly.



English Shrub Rose – bred by David Austin

David Austin

Nicely quartered rosettes with mixed tea, myrrh and fruit scent. Rich apricot, nicely quartered rosettes. Mixed tea, myrrh and fruit fragrance. Particularly healthy.

The rich apricot flowers are of an informal rosette shape and are nicely quartered, each with a button eye which is retained to the end. Usually the fragrance is a lovely mix of tea with myrrh and fruit, although sometimes it is almost pure citrus. It forms a large, bushy, rather upright shrub with its flowers nodding on the branch. It is almost completely without thorns and is particularly healthy.

Named for the last and finest of the sailing ships.

The Right Roses:

David Austin introduced Tea Clipper in 2006. He named this rose after the “last and finest of the sailing ships”.

“A clipper was a type of mid-19th-century merchant sailing ship, designed for speed. Developed from a type of schooner known as Baltimore clippers, clipper ships had three masts and a square rig. They were generally narrow for their length, small by later 19th century standards, could carry limited bulk freight, and had a large total sail area. Clipper ships were mostly constructed in British and American shipyards, though France, Brazil, the Netherlands and other nations also produced some. Clippers sailed all over the world, primarily on the trade routes between the United Kingdom and China, in transatlantic trade, and on the New York-to-San Francisco route around Cape Horn during the California Gold Rush. Dutch clippers were built beginning in the 1850s for the tea trade and passenger service to Java.

The boom years of the clipper ship era began in 1843 as a result of a growing demand for a more rapid delivery of tea from China”.




At the moment (Feb 2020), rose ‘Tea Clipper’ is not available in the UK, while David Austin is still offering her in the US. The team at The Right Roses believes that Tea Clipper is not the most popular David Austin rose, despite many good attributes.


Tea Clipper is not the most popular David Austin rose, despite many good attributes.”

The Right Roses |

Tea Clipper rose: The pros

Tea Clipper has five main strengths.

First, she has such a beautiful name. Anyone who likes clippers, the merchant sailing ships, would want to have at least one rose ‘Tea Clipper’ in their garden. Her name reminds us of so many exciting adventures of the sea, with pirates, hidden treasures, fierce battles, and mysterious islands. Many of us must have subconsciously seen the famous clippers so many times in our dream since our childhood. As we grow up, we may have those dreams less frequently. However, those memories still are as vivid as something just happened yesterday. Therefore, having a rose ‘Tea Clipper’ in our garden is a way to treasure our beautiful and exciting childhood. We truly believe that her gorgeous name adds so much to her overall attractiveness.

Second, Tea Clipper produces absolutely gorgeous, quartered-rosette blooms. Her blooms are medium – large in size (about 4’’ or 10 cm), and extremely pretty. Roses mainly have 12 bloom forms: single (Kew Garden, Tottering-by-Gently), open cup (Scepter’d Isle), incurved (Claire Austin), quartered rosette (Wildeve), semi-double (Royal Jubilee), shallow cup, recurved, rosette, hybrid tea, deep cup (The Ancient Mariner), pompon, and button eye (Emily Bronte). Among those bloom forms, we always find that quartered rosette is particularly special as the petals are perfectly arranged into four main parts. David Austin has introduced just a few varieties with quartered rosette, such as Tea Clipper and Wildeve. Therefore, in the sense, Tea Clipper is very special.

Third, Tea Clipper produces a sensational, strong fragrance. It is a beautiful mix of three lovely scents, tea, myrrh and fruit. It is truly such a deep and rich fragrance that we would love to have in our gardens. A colorful garden with many varieties is good. However, a colorful garden with the sensational scent, that Tea Clipper produces, would make it unforgettable and make us so eager to wait for the summer to come back.

We find that her name, Tea Clipper, sounds just right for her, given the notes of her scent. Rose ‘Tea Clipper’ produces a strong perfume with notes of tea, myrrh and fruit. She acts just like the actual clippers (the merchant sailing ships) which swiftly delivered tea to Europe during the 19th century. Rose ‘Tea Clipper’ would satisfy your thirst for the tea fragrance as soon as you get a quick sniff. And, believe us, once you do that, it is very hard to you to go away without having a second one.

Fourth, Tea Clipper is a relatively healthy rose. David Austin underrated Tea Clipper’s disease resistance (‘average’). She is indeed very healthy. The Right Roses would rate her health as ‘good’ or even better.

And, fifth, Tea Clipper is almost without thorns. This is the characteristic that we love a lot. It would make it very easy to enjoy her fragrance. And, please do not forget the time we prune our roses. A thornless rose like Tea Clipper is wonderful.


Tea Clipper rose The Right Roses review English roses David Austin gardening english garden
Rose ‘Tea Clipper’. Without thorns. Photo credit: The Right Roses

Tea Clipper rose: The cons

Tea Clipper has two main weaknesses.

First, she is very stingy with blooms. She is not one of the most floriferous David Austin roses. Not even close. She produces a good (not exceptional) Spring flush. Then, very little after that.

David Austin has introduced 2 climbing roses and 1 rambling rose, being best for flowering, including: Mortimer Sackler, Iceberg, Malvern Hills. In addition, some shrub roses can rebloom extremely well, including Harlow Carr, Olivia Rose Austin, Princess Anne, Thomas a Becket, Gabriel Oak (2019), Kew Gardens, William & Catherine, Lady of Shalott, and Roald Dahl. The team at The Right Roses would like to add three more varieties being best for flowering, including Royal Jubilee (2012), Princess Alexandra of Kent (2007), and Boscobel (2012).

Second, her blooms blow away very quickly. In generally, David Austin roses have a shorter vase life. A few varieties are better than others. However, Tea Clipper does age very quickly.

David Austin has introduced several great roses with long-lasting blooms such as Jubilee Celebration, Golden Celebration and Princess Alexandra of Kent. In general, their blooms can last 5 – 6 days in the sun. In the rain, their blooms may last shorter.

If you would like to buy roses being best as cut flowers, you may want to consider Boscobel, Charlotte, Darcey Bussel, Golden Celebration, Graham Thomas, Jubilee Celebration, Lady of Shalott, Molineux, Munstead Wood, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Teasing Georgia, The Alnwick Rose, Windermere, and of course Spirit of Freedom.

We would like to make an extra comment about the vase life of roses, to make it clearer for the readers. What do we mean by ‘last 5 – 6 days’? Some gardeners may think that their roses (of the same varieties) in their gardeners last much longer. Here is our response. That is definitely the beauty of nature. A lot of factors may influence how long a bloom lasts. The weather. The heat. The month of the year. And, the soil in the garden. However, what do we mean by ‘last 5 – 6 days’? We refer the vase (or stem) life of a bloom to the number of days in which the bloom is truly at its best. That means the number of days that a fully opened bloom is truly at its best and you do not feel like its best moment has been over. Therefore, a flower bud may take one or two weeks to go from the bud stage to completely shatter. However, once it fully blooms, its life is significantly shorter. We have to say that Jubilee Celebration, Golden Celebration and Princess Alexandra of Kent produce very long-lasting blooms. Even at their fully opened best, they can easily last 5 – 6 days in vase or on stems. For your information, we have a silly habit. We would like to deadhead the blooms as soon as their best moment is over so that the plant can focus their energy for the next flush and repeat better. For instance, we usually deadhead The Ancient Mariner and Royal Jubilee about 2 days after they fully bloom. It takes a lot of time and effort to deadhead, we know. However, it is good for the roses and for us because we would have more blooms to enjoy.

Tea Clipper rose: The similarities

David Austin is offering 12 varieties producing apricot & orange blooms (February 2020), of which Emily Bronte and The Lady Gardener look quite similar to Tea Clipper.

Emily Bronte, introduced for the UK in 2018, is an incredible variety. She forms an upright shrub (no octopus canes). Very shapely. Extremely healthy. And her fragrance is heavenly. She produces one of the strongest fragrances among English roses.

The Lady Gardener also has an upright growth habit. She produces one of the largest blooms for an English rose (along with Princess Alexandra of Kent and Golden Celebration). Very healthy. But her fragrance strength is only ‘medium’. And, quite thorny.

Tea Clipper rose: The details

Height & Spread: 4ft x 3ft Colour: Apricot Fragrance: Strong
Fragrance notes: mixed tea, myrrh and fruit Flowering: Repeat flowering Suitable for containers: Yes
Sun exposure: Full sunlight Bloom size: Medium – large (4’’ or 10 cm) Disease resistance: Good (The Right Roses), Average (David Austin)

Photo credit: The Right Roses |

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Richard Burden
Richard Burden
2 months ago

I have 3 Tea Clippers growing in the UK which produce an abundance of flowers from late spring right through to autumn. My only gripe is that they grow to over 8ft and being unable to self support such growth flop over and become a bit messy.

1 month ago

My Tea Clipper growing in Lincolnshire flowers very well and is still in bloom now (late October). I have been trying unsuccessfully to buy another one as it is so good.

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