15 Tasting Notes
I normally have a stash of coffee beans in the freezer for weekend mornings, but I had run out this particular week, so I brewed myself two mugs of Irish Breakfast and read through a couple of blogs instead. Then I ran out of Irish Breakfast, so I’ve been working my way through my shoe boxes full of tea. Aside from rekindling my relationship with tea, I’ve also discovered two things: first, I should buy tea tins, because who stores their bags of tea in shoe boxes, and second, Adagio’s Caramel Tea is really, really good.
It’s a little strange that I ended up with Caramel Tea since I don’t go out of my way to buy caramel anything. However, when you are checking out online at Adagio, you have the option to “share” your purchase with your followers on social media, and in return Adagio lets you choose a free sample from a long list of teas. I’m pretty sure I thought to myself, “What would I never want to spend my money on?” as my attention settled on Caramel Tea.
The ingredients are just black tea and caramel flavoring, and just like Adagio’s Chestnut tea, how much I enjoyed the Caramel Tea took me by surprise.
The Caramel Tea was a fairly mellow cup of tea considering it was a black tea with natural caramel flavoring. The black tea seemed a little thin, and it wasn’t astringent, which allowed for the aroma of the Caramel to take center stage. And, unlike some of the flavored black teas I’ve reviewed in the past, the flavoring didn’t assault the taste buds at all. I took my Caramel Tea with sugar, which is rare, but it transformed the mug in to dessert; it tastes like the burnt sugar topping of creme brule, which is only one of my favorite desserts ever.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel
During college, I had a waxing interest in the Steampunk subculture– not to the point where I wore Steampunk-inspired garb– but I did have a handful of Steampunk bands loaded onto my iPod. Abney Park was my favorite. I also frequented Steampunk blogs, and it was through them that I discovered a webcomic called Wondermark by David Malki !. The comic wasn’t really Steampunk, although it did make the occasional reference. For the most part though, I would describe it as modern-day pop culture and political references set against a backdrop of old, Victorian-era scenes. I would also describe it as hilarious, which is why I yanked Wondermark vol. 2: Clever Tricks to Stave Off Death from the shelf and added it to my nearly toppling stack of library books.
When I returned home, I had a brilliant idea to brew myself a cup of Adagio’s Earl Grey Lavender tea to enjoy alongside an old favorite. You may not think so, but Earl Grey Lavender was a daring choice. Prior to this weekend, I had tried brewing myself Earl Grey Lavender three different time, and all three times it was undrinkable– bitter and overly perfume-y and more appropriate for the drain than my taste buds. But, ever the optimist, I decided to give Earl Grey Lavender once last try, and I’m glad I did. I have a bad habit of “eyeballing” a tablespoon, so this time I actually used measuring spoons– one rounded tablespoon for about 8 oz of water. Just by reducing the amount of tea leaves and time to steep the leaves, I somehow brewed the perfect cup. I finished off the cup with some sugar, and when I took my first sip, I was immediately transported to an English garden in early summer, where red Trumpet Honeysuckle climbs up trellises, the pink and purple, bell-shaped blossoms of Foxgloves and Canterbury Bells are in full bloom, and a light breeze carries the scent of lavender with it.
I then proceeded to make myself two more mugs of Earl Grey Lavender while finishing up Wondermark vol. 2, which was, as I suspected, still hilarious.
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Lavender, Vanilla
The last time I had this tea, it was wintertime but near 40 degrees (Fahrenheit), which is generally considered “balmy” for most northerners. Except it was a soggy and sleety 40 degrees, which somehow changes entirely how 40 degrees actually feels. It tends to seep in through sweaters and jackets and make your body feel heavy and your bones hurt even though it’s not really that cold. Then your body starts to tell you that you need to crawl back in to bed and cozy up next your significant other’s warm, napping body and doze off. Except, I hate sleeping. Truthfully I do because it’s so time consuming. (Does this make me weird?) So, I did the next best thing, which was root around in the box of Adagio Tea that had just been delivered to my apartment for something that would fill me with warmth. I settled on Lemon Soleil tea because all I could think about was how badly I wanted sunshine on such a drizzly day.
Lemon Soleil leavesLemon Soleil is a blend of ceylon black tea, natural lemon flavoring, and marigold leaves.
I put the kettle on, and I let it whistle at me let me to know it was done. Then, I poured the water over just a skosh more than a teaspoon of tea leaves. I let it steep for three minutes, and I somehow brewed a perfect cup of tea on the first try. Ceylon tea, which tends to be citrusy compared to other types of black tea, pairs well with the lemon flavoring; it was medium-bodied, bright on my tongue, and felt refreshing. I also added a few drizzles of wildflower honey for a subtle sweetness. True to its name, Lemon Soleil is the kind of tea that makes a cold day feel like a sunny and balmy spring day, and it just made me feel so, so happy.
Flavors: Citrus, Lemon
I would like to take this time to apologize to Oolong tea. I’m sorry I said you tasted like a mix of grass, moss, wet tree bark, and mud. I was wrong. Really wrong. But, can you really blame me when the only Oolong tea I had the misfortune to taste was from a tea bag? But you, Six Summits Oolong from Teavana, have opened my eyes.
The scent of the dried tea is pleasant. Actually, the way I’m about to describe it is kind of odd. But, believe me, pleasant none-the-less. It smells like a combination of dried catnip and red fruit roll-ups, folks. It’s earthy, but the raspberries lend a certain sweetness to the scent.
The Oolong flavor was good. I think my taste buds appreciated the quality of this Oolong tea more than the bagged tea that I had tried a few years prior. Initially, I couldn’t taste the raspberries, they did create a pleasant aftertaste though–sweet and slightly tart, just like a raspberry should taste!
Bottom Line: I received this as a Christmas present from my father. Of all the teas he gave to me, this was the one I was most hesitant to try, so naturally I tried it first. I’m glad I did! Would I purchase this tea in the future? Yea, probably. But, more importantly, it opened my eyes that Oolong could actually taste good. Better than good! I’m more inclined to try out other Oolong teas in the future.
I think there are different versions of this tea. Perhaps I was gifted Six Summits when Teavana still concocted it with dried raspberries, because my tin had loads of them. Teavana did not cheat me out of red raspberries. They were plentiful! And I’m not talking raspberry crumbles either. I’m talking whole. big. red raspberries.
My Morning Maté tastes less like the traditional cup of tea and more like…well, coffee, without the bitterness! The blend contains Mate tea, Rooibos tea, black tea, cocoa kernels, carob bits, chocolate chips, orange peels, almonds, cactus blossoms, coriander, pistachio nuts, cracknel bits, red pepper, cornflowers, safflowers, and sunflower petals. Are you drooling yet?
It has a nutty flavor, and initially this made me nervous. I don’t actually like nuts, but they weren’t overwhelming in this cuppa. I’d say they were actually pleasant. And the addition of chocolate is not lost on my taste buds. I’d like to play around with this tea, which is not something I often do. When it comes to both tea and coffee, I refuse to add milk or sugar. But, I think a dribble of honey or some rock sugar would make this tea even better.
I had high hopes for Teavana’s Earl Grey tea. When the sales lady fanned the delightful scent of black tea and citrus in my direction, I practically began to salivate. I thought, “This could be it! This could be the Earl Grey I have been waiting for.” However, after I returned home and brewed a cuppa, I discovered Teavana’s Earl Grey tea did not live up to my expectations. That’s not to say the brew was bad. It’s just the fragrant, citrus scent that wafted in front of my nose was indecipherable in taste.
The one upside to this tea is the price– it’s inexpensive. I think I spent about six dollars on enough tea to make nearly 60 cups. When I first began drinking Teavana’s Earl Grey, I thought I’d eventually return to the store to buy more. If anything, it’s a cheap way to get a caffeine fix. But, overtime I decided I’d rather continue on my journey to find that Earl Grey that is just right even if it is just a bit pricier.
Bottom Line, would I turn away a cuppa if someone offered it to me? No. But, I would rather spend my money on another brand’s blend of Earl Grey.
Upon first sniff, I’m not fond of Teavana’s Frutto Bianco Pearls White Tea. It smells too similar to Hawaiian Punch– sickly sweet and kind of stinky like over-ripe fruit. I dislike Hawaiian Punch. I disliked it as a kid, and I dislike it even more as an adult. But, if you can get over the smell (or for some reason you actually like Hawaiian Punch) I think you’ll like this tea. It’s like a tropical island in a mug!
The candied papaya and pineapple are the two flavors that stick out to me, but this blend also includes: creamy coconut chips, kiwi, lemongrass, lemon peels, and hand-rolled white tea pearls (“from paradise” Teavana’s website notes!)
I’ve gone back and forth about trying this with sugar, but ultimately decided it tasted just fine unsweetened. I love the fruity aftertaste it creates in my mouth. Sometimes the aftertaste seems sweet, although that could just be my imagination. Also, I’ve never had this tea in summer when tropical flavors are appropriate. I’ve only had it in the winter. It reminds me this world isn’t grey, snowy, and cold all the time– just most of the time (here in Michigan, I mean).
Bottom Line, Frutto Bianco Pearls is like Hawaiian Punch for adults. And no, I don’t mean spiked with booze. It’s a pleasant beverage, hot or cold, when I’m not fiending for caffeine.
I should preface this by saying I’ve never had a chestnut, so I can’t say “OMG, this totally tastes like chestnuts” or “Wow, Adagio. This tastes nothing like chestnuts”. I also have to say that I was hesitant to try this simply because it said “chestnut” on the front. I typically don’t enjoy nuts (unless it’s a pistachio). And, chestnuts especially seemed to be about as appealing as a store-bought fruitcake at Christmas. But, I was pleasantly surprised by this tea.
One of my favorite things to do before trying out new tea is to breath in the aroma of the tea. It kind of gives me an idea of what I’m getting in to. When I opened the package, I didn’t even have to bring the leaves to my nose to get a good whiff. The aroma was strong, but not in an unappealing way. It was like walking into a kitchen when someone is baking cookies.
I was surprised how little of the black tea I could smell though. All I could notice was the “chestnut” flavoring. This tea had the most buttery and sugary and nutty aroma. These were the things that popped into my head: burnt sugar. Creme Brule. Multi-grain pancakes from Anna’s, a local restaurant. Smothered in butter and warm syrup of course. Notice how none of those say “chestnut”?
Only after I brewed the tea did I really notice the black tea. It was full-bodied, but it wasn’t overpowering. The buttery and nuttiness only showed up as a delightful aftertaste. I drank my tea without sugar or milk. It really doesn’t need it. But, I bet a dash of milk and sugar would turn Adagio’s Chestnut Tea into a nice dessert tea.
Bottom Line, I really enjoyed this tea. It left me feeling cozy and wishing for a snowy afternoon. There was one downfall though. I only received a sample of this type of tea, and I can’t stop thinking of it!
Every so often I’ll dive into a cuppa tea without reading into what I’m drinking, and I’ll make some pretty rash assumptions. This happened recently when I was brewing myself a cup of Adagio’s Ooooh Darjeeling. (Did I type all the “O”s?) During my first few brews of Ooooh Darjeeling, I thought to myself “Wow, this is a really nice black tea”. It wasn’t until I read the back of the bag that I realized it was actually oolong tea and not black tea.
A foolish mistake, and yet an easy one to make since Darjeeling tea is usually sold/marketed as black tea. Sometimes I’m such a noob when it comes to tea.
The scent of the leaves is delicate to me– slightly sweet and earthy, but I didn’t really taste either of these once brewed. Ooooh Darjeeling is unlike any oolong tea I’ve had. It doesn’t have that earthy aroma like most oolong teas I have tried. Instead, it tasted more like a black tea but not as strong and without much of the astringency (hence why I jumped to the conclusion that this was a black tea). Ooooh Darjeeling had a subtle floral aroma that I found to be delightful. I think there was supposed to be some fruity aromas as well, but I did not pick up on those.
This tea tastes great both unsweetened and sweet. While I haven’t tried it, I think Ooooh Darjeeling would make a nice iced tea if rock sugar were added (or whatever your sweetener of choice is).
Bottom Line, I really enjoyed this tea! It’s not a breakfast brew for me since I prefer bolder tastes in the morning. But, it’s the perfect cup to enjoy while reading books on a sunny afternoon.