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Recent Tasting Notes
I have been so busy this week. Even though I have been drinking a ton of tea, I have yet to post any new reviews until now. A lot of that can be chalked up to laziness. When I have had free time, I always seemed to find an excuse to do anything other than get on Steepster. Now I have a backlog of reviews piled up (again) and need to post them. This is one of my most recent sipdowns, and I wanted to start with it, so here goes.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of this tea in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt additional infusions. I also tried shorter infusions around the 3 minute mark and will briefly comment on those. This review, however, primarily concerns the 5 minute infusion because I felt that one was the best.
After infusion, the liquor showed a dark amber in the cup. Pronounced aromas of pine, smoke, cedar, juniper, and toast were present on the nose. In the mouth, I noted more complexity and depth than expected. I easily detected notes of pine, smoke, tar, spruce, cedar, and juniper balanced by toast, caramel, malt, vanilla bean, and subtle spice. The finish was simultaneously rich and smoky, offering a pleasant blend of lingering wood, smoke, caramel, and toast notes. The shorter infusions were much milder, offering softer aromas of wood, smoke, caramel, malt, and toast. In the mouth, there were soft notes of pine, smoke, cedar, juniper, caramel, toast, and malt.
All in all, I did not find this to be a bad lapsang souchong. Granted it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was still very solid. I did not notice any metallic, resinous, or otherwise off flavors in this tea. I kind of suspect that many of the overwhelmingly negative reviews for this tea came from people who either already did not like lapsang souchong or who were more or less entirely unfamiliar with it. Whatever the case, I really do not think this is a bad tea. If you have yet to try it and are looking for a basic, affordable lapsang, I would encourage you to give it a chance.
Flavors: Caramel, Cedar, Malt, Pine, Smoke, Spicy, Tar, Toast, Vanilla, Wood
This is definitely a balance between coconut and pineapple, neither one is overly powerful. It’s a good flavor to pair with the red grass rooibos base. There’s nothing quite like this on adagio, so it’s well worth a try. Fruiter than pina colatta, but not as sharp as a citrus tea. It’s a sweet, creamy, caffeine-free treat!
Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Pineapple, Tropical
I got this tea to try because it was unusual for me and new to adagio. It’s not a favorite on its own, but has potential to be a nice element in blends. The summer rose smells pleasant in the bag, and melds nicely with a gentle black tea base. However, the rose flavoring does taste a bit soapy, and would probably benefit from lots of milk, sugar, or vanilla tea. Pretty, girly, and unlike other flavors on adagio, I’m glad to have in the arsenal for future blends.
Flavors: Floral, Rose, Soap
I love the idea of this blend: something for autumn, peppercorns and spice and smoke— truly some of my favorite sensations. That in mind, this tea was much sweeter than I expected. The apple and aniseed and cocoa nibs help keep this blend gentle and dessert-like, and orange flavoring keeps it bright and drinkable. The smoke is just a teeny, tiny whiff. I also like that this tea is low in caffeine, so I can drink it anytime without being so hard on my body. I’m glad to see adagio making seasonal blends of their own, it makes it fun to stop in and shop on their site. But I do wish this blend had some more gusto. A blend called bonfire didn’t seem to have very much cinnamon flame or savory woodsmoke. Maybe I’ll pump up my personal batch with some more lapsang and see how it goes.
Flavors: Anise, Apple, Cocoa, Nutty, Orange Zest, Pepper, Smoke
It’s nice to see Adagio rolling out more seasonal stuff these days. Nice, and very tempting. I had some points racked up and decided to get this and a personal blend I made called Haven. Plus Cream because I missed it and it goes with everything.
Now, this tea is a strange one. A honeybush with a touch of lapsang? Ok, different but interesting. Add hazelnut? Sweet, sounds good. Red peppercorns, cacao nibs, anise, and cinnamon? Amazing! But then they added orange peel, rosehips, clove, and apple pieces on top of all of that. There’s just so much going on. Somebody may have gotten a little too creative.
The aroma has me cautious. The husband (not a tea drinker) said it smells like “chocolate and bubblegum”. I’m not getting either of those, but the fruit is bright and in the forefront, but kind of clashing with the hazelnut. And the lapsang’s smoke. Steeped, the tea has a strong orange spice and nutty smoke scent. It’s intriguing. And fruity. And definitely reminds me of fall and winter.
The flavor is actually very warming and comforting. The hazelnut and the orange peel against the honeybush taste like a lovely dessert you’d serve hot with vanilla iced cream. With the lapsang to back it up, it tastes toasty and baked. The spices back it up but don’t shout over the main flavors. The clove is especially present, but I smell it as I sip more than I actually taste it.
I could definitely see myself sitting by the fire drinking this. Heads up, though, this is a limited edition tea, so if you wanna try it, you might wanna get it soon!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Fruity, Hazelnut, Nutty, Orange, Orange Zest, Smoke
I found this undrinkable. It didn’t taste like pumpkin or pumpkin spice. It did have a flavor I couldn’t put my finger on and couldn’t stand. Brewing it according to Adagio’s instructions I didn’t get any bitterness from the tea itself, so I guess that’s something.
So my cupboard number is high but a fair amount of the teas are sample sizes. Perhaps I should take a page from Sil’s book and weigh my stash again to see how much tea I have.
As for this tea, it is a pretty pleasant berry tea and it makes for a delightful tea pop. Not too sweet. Not too tart. Delicious and perhaps it will be one I see again. Until then, I have DAVIDs Bear Trap which is much easier to get a hold of.
This was snuck into into my order by Adagio when I picked up the Sean Bean death teas. Since I was having pizza for dinner, a meal that often is paired with soda, I decided to make a teapop to go with it. Berry teas tend to make nice teapops and this is no exception.It’s flavorful enough that I still get berry flavor but not overpowering or cloying. I think I still prefer Bear Trap as my berry tea but I can’t complain about getting to try something new especially when it was free.
Lovely, lovely white. I’m not very experienced at describing tea, but this one was full of interesting and pleasant flavors. Delicate but not boring.
I’m not usually a fan of unflavored greens and whites; I drink them when I’m sick because it’s the only kind of tea I don’t care to add sugar to. But White Symphony is almost too good for that — certainly not worth wasting on those sick days when my sense of smell and taste are diminished. I could almost drink this tea every day, and that is an unexpected compliment from someone who typically sticks to unflavored blacks.
This one was kind of a flop for me. I love ginger! I love the burn!
…But this does not burn. There’s no bright, almost citrus-like flavor of some ginger teas I’ve had. It’s mellow, more like an everyday ginger ale. Not to say it’s bad or anything, I was just hoping for more of a fresh ginger kick. This tastes like powdered ginger.
That said, this will still be good to mix with stuff or enjoy iced. I can add a layer of ginger to pretty much anything in my cupboard and it will be good, so I don’t mind that this isn’t stellar.
I was hoping to like this much more than I did. The dry leaf and the infused liquor smelled strongly of vanilla but it felt like it lacked something. Although it was not at all bitter my guess is that adding a bit of sugar would complement the vanilla. It probably wouldn’t take much and would make it more satisfying. I’ll likely give that a try the next time I try this.
Got this as a free sample in my most recent order. I saw Adagio teasing us with free watermelon tea on Twitter and I couldn’t resist. So I made a small end-of-summer order.
The contents of the pouch look like a mix of dried apple cubes and red potpourri. The apple pieces were all clumped together, so I broke them up with my spoon. Now, I haven’t had an Adagio tisane in like ten years. I tried a few back in the day and thought they were good, but I need my caffeine fix and without that, those teas were basically expensive juice that I had to assemble myself.
But… but watermelon. So, the pouch gave a range of 5-10 minutes. I went with 8, preparing it strong to go over ice. It didn’t come out quite as bright pink as I was expecting with the hibiscus content. It’s more of a peachy pink. Kinda like cantaloupe. However, the flavor is pretty spot on. Very melony despite how much apple is in it. And it’s very natural-tasting… not like a Jolly Rancher or anything like that. I’m really looking forward to blending it with a coconut black tea in the morning.
Big disclaimer, though — I used twice as much tea as you’re supposed to. I’ve had a bunch of teas like this and by now I know what’s up.
Flavors: Apple, Berries, Berry, Fruity, Hibiscus, Melon
This is the other Darjeeling I have been drinking recently. Even though I have been familiar with Adagio’s products for a long time, I have to admit that until I cracked this one open, this tea was new to me. At first, I did not like it at all, but now that I have tried it multiple times, it has grown on me quite a bit.
I prepared this tea using my familiar one step Western infusion. I experimented with steep times quite a bit. It took awhile, but I think I have finally found what works best for me with this tea. According to Adagio, one should steep 1 heaping teaspoon of this tea in 8 ounces of 212 F water for anywhere from 3-5 minutes. I found that a 3 minute steep using the amount described oddly lacked character, so I adjusted the amount used and the steep time. I actually used slightly less leaf and found the result to be a more balanced, nuanced brew. I still used slightly more than a traditional teaspoon of loose tea leaves, but not quite as much as what many may consider to be a heaped teaspoon if that makes sense. I also found that a steep time ranging from 4-5 minutes using the amount of tea I settled on produced a nice cuppa. For the purposes of this review, I will be specifically referencing the 5 minute infusion.
Prior to infusion, a glance at the dry leaves revealed that this is a higher quality tea compared to the Summer Puttabong offered by Adagio. I did not notice nearly as many fannings, primarily spotting larger broken leaves and some smaller full leaves. To be clear, I still highly doubt that this would qualify as a truly high end Darjeeling, but relative to the other summer Darjeeling offered by this vendor, this one at least appears to be a little nicer. After infusion, the liquor shows a dark golden amber in the glass. On the nose, I found that mellow aromas of honey, Muscat grape, toast, almonds, cream, and malt were easily detectable. In the mouth, I picked up on mellow notes of clover honey, cream, toast, malt, almonds, herbs, straw, nutmeg, and Muscat grape. The finish was longer and mellower than the Puttabong offering, with delicate notes of Muscat grape, almond, toast, cream, nutmeg, and honey lingering.
This does not come across as the most refined Darjeeling in the world, but I found that I really enjoyed the honey, nut, and spice notes offered by this tea. The Muscat grape presence is nice and pronounced too. Compared to Adagio’s other summer Darjeeling, I definitely prefer this one. I could see this being a consistent, solid introduction to the summer flushes.
Flavors: Almond, Cream, Herbs, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Straw, Toast
In cleaning out my hoard of black teas, I have been specifically focusing on reducing the number of Darjeelings I have on hand. Unfortunately, I fear that I may be starting to burn myself out on them. Either that or I have just run into a couple of Darjeelings that really have not done it for me. I have one more that I am hoping to polish off before the end of the week, so we’ll see which is the case. This one, at least, was pretty good.
I prepared this tea using the one step Western infusion I normally use for non-Chinese black teas. I suppose that I could have attempted another infusion with this tea, but to be honest, I did not feel the need. For the purposes of this review, I steeped 1 heaping teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. Adagio recommends a steep time ranging from 3-5 minutes for this tea. I tried several different times in that range, but found that I preferred the 5 minute infusion time. The others yielded a tea that was a little underpowered for my tastes.
The first thing I noticed about this tea was that it was not specifically comprised of full leaves. I noted a number of broken leaves, as well as what appeared to be fannings. Obviously, this is not 100 percent high grade tea. I also noted a dusty smell with a hint of grape. After infusion, the liquor showed a delicate golden amber in the cup. Mild aromas of cream, toasted almonds, malt, honey, apricot, golden raisins, and Muscat grape were present on the nose. In the mouth, I noted a relatively smooth, soothing mixture of straw, golden raisin, apricot, honey, malt, cream, toast, toasted almond, and Muscat grape flavors. The finish was very clipped and mild, offering lingering impressions of toast, malt, honey, toasted almond, golden raisin, and Muscat grape.
To be fair, this was a lot more complex than I was expecting it to be. I really dug the aroma and flavor of golden raisin demonstrated by this Darjeeling. It was entirely unexpected, giving this tea a very unique presence that separated it from the other Darjeelings I have been drinking lately. This was also a very pleasant tea that was easy to drink. I would have preferred to see more depth and a longer, more powerful finish, but this would have required a greater proportion of higher grade leaves that would have driven the price point up. I tend to be really picky about summer Darjeelings, and to be honest, I do not normally like them nearly as much as spring and autumn flushes, but this one isn’t bad. Its fine layering of aromas and flavors is extremely commendable given the mixed quality of the leaves and the lower price point. I doubt I would purchase this tea again anytime soon, but if I were looking for a decent, respectable summer Darjeeling at an affordable price, I could see myself revisiting this one.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Cream, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Raisins, Straw, Toast
Bleh. Another Adagio tea bites the dust. At this point I’m something like 0/24 with Adagio flavored teas and should know better, but they are 5 mins from my house and generous with samples so I keep trying them.
This one smelled promising. The dry leaf had a warm aroma of vanilla bean and wood and it brews into a beautiful deep red color. But the taste of the brewed tea is another story. The vanilla flavor really knocks you over the head, overpowering the rooibos. After a few sips, I felt as if I were drinking a bottle of vanilla extract. There is a little spice in there too but none of the other flavor notes are decernible because the vanilla dominates. Perhaps a splash of almond milk might make this is a little more palatable.
Flavors: Vanilla, Wood
Not proud to admit it, but I’ve been scared of rooibos. First of all, is it “ROY-bose” or “ROY-bus”? “RUE-ee-bose” or “RUE-ee-bus”? Reading that’s it’s also called “red bush tea” and that it comes from South Africa, while interesting, doesn’t help. I’ve had it (and made it) in blends of herbal tea, but as it was always mixed in with other tastes, I never knew exactly what it contributed aside from its lack of caffeine. Even the old Tazo African Red Bush teabags (which, alas, they no longer make or sell) combined hibiscus, lemon verbena, orange peel, rosemary, lemon balm, citric acid and natural flavors. I used to like those teabags. I’m sorry they’re no longer available.
But rooibos by itself I had never had. So I bought this small 4 oz tin (with a nice see-through hinged lid) in order to really try it. Aside from throwing in a spoonful when blending myself a pot of something without caffeine at night, I’d never used it. So here goes.
First of all, be prepared to use some kind of filter paper, otherwise the tiny little seedlike bits can escape even tiny-meshed tea strainers. No, I didn’t do research to find out what part of the red bush this tea comes from. Doesn’t look like leaves, maybe it’s seeds—it’s certainly tiny enough to be little seeds. Yeah, the bulk of them will be caught by the mesh—but there’s enough residue of dozens of tiny specks, you’ll want to use a coffee filter over a mesh if you want to keep them ALL out of your tea.
The tea has a pleasant-enough flavor. It’s not bitter, kind of nutty, kind of raisin-y tasting. I feel like I should be eating a slice of nut bread or raisin toast while drinking this, as it would certainly go well. Don’t know what the health benefits of rooibos are supposed to be (yes, I’ll be looking that up, too), but while not the usual tea flavor of camellia sinensis, it’s a cozy-tasting hot beverage. I’m having this unsweetened, so to taste it by itself. It tastes “healthy”—like it should go along with organic toast or oatmeal, or other good-for-you foodstuffs. Unless you’ve grown up with it, it is not the usual breakfast beverage. This will be a plus for some people, a minus for others who’d rather have regular tea or coffee.
The upshot? It’s not bad. I will have to give it a number of more tries for my tastebuds to get over the “different” factor. But I think it could be just the thing for a cool fall morning, especially with some nice baked goods.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Grain, Nutty, Oats, Raisins
Let me start by saying that I’ve really been missing out by not buying a bag of these for myself sooner. These cookies are really tasty and in full disclosure I should tell you they’re a bit addictive (I may have sat here and eaten most of the bag in one sitting, whoops!) You have three different options for flavors: honey rooibos, white berry, and vanilla chai. When I send these to my friends I usually buy the vanilla chai because you really can’t go wrong with spiced cookies and it’s a flavor that will appeal to tea lovers and haters alike. The cookies are gently spiced with chai and the texture reminds me of buttery shortbread. Occasionally you’ll run across a piece of dried pineapple, which is slightly gummy and doesn’t really add to the flavor. I could do without the pineapple in the cookies, it seems like an odd combination to me, but the inclusion doesn’t affect my enjoyment enough where I wouldn’t order these again (and again and again, did I mention they’re addictive?)
You can read the full review on my blog: