Adagio Custom Blends, Cara McGee

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Recent Tasting Notes

72

Sampler Sipdown September! It’s time for my next Harry Potter-themed tea for the House Cup… OF TEA!

This is the one tea that I had to get from Adagio (I really did want to get them all from the same source, but…) It is called “The Sacrifice” and themed around Cedric Diggory, representing House Hufflepuff, and is a blend of Adagio’s Irish Breakfast, Chamomile, and Honeybush Hazelnut teas. This tea is far more economically priced than the teas from the Malfoy Tea Emporium Etsy seller, and if you work hard for your tea, you shouldn’t have to pay ridiculous prices (cough a dollar a cup cough) for it, so while I realize I had to order this blend from a different seller out of necessity, the practical pricing makes me happy… and fits the House well. I’m going to have to give it a bonus point for that!

The dry leaf has a very sweet, hazelnut scent, that almost brings certain chocolately notes to my nostrils, reminding me a bit of Nutella. The tea steeped up a warm, chocolately brown, with just a hint of a red tone, likely from the honeybush. The tea has that malty Irish Breakfast base note on the back of the tongue, but overall the flavor comes off much lighter, with more of a light-to-medium-bodied brew than a full-bodied brew. The honeybush and hazelnut flavor give the tea a lot of natural sweetness, and the tea has a strong sweet nutty flavor. I normally can’t stand the flavor of chamomile, but blended with the malty and sweet nutty flavors here, the chamomile flavor comes off more subtle and doesn’t really bother me much, adding a slight floral note and giving the tea a relaxing, soothing feel. The tea also resteeped surprisingly well; I usually find flavored blends (especially blacks) taste really lackluster to me on resteep, but this one really showed some durability. A black tea with that much dedication and durability to its flavor? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to find such in the Hufflepuff tea! I have to give another bonus point here.

I was very happy with the flavor of this tea! I am not really a fan of Irish Breakfast and Chamomile teas in general, but the way these teas have been blended surprisingly appealed to me. I honestly thought I wasn’t going to like this at all! It’s the balance of the blend that I really seem to enjoy; the malty, astringent tones of the black tea aren’t entirely lost to too much flavor and sweetness, but there is just enough flavor and sweetness to make those black tea flavors palatable for me, and the malt and hazelnut tame down what I normally find the awful flavor of chamomile enough that I can enjoy it’s relaxing effects. It’s like finding a barista that can make you a mocha that’s not too bitter, not too sweet, just that perfect blend between the two extremes. Sipping the tea left me feeling warm and relaxed, and ready for another cup. Out of five points for flavor, I’m scoring this one a five.

As far as House virtus, Irish Breakfast is such a tried and true, common, beloved breakfast tea, with a full and hearty taste, I have a hard time not thinking of it as one of the most dedicated, loyal teas around. The fact the brew has been sweetened up with honeybush and hazelnut so the black tea doesn’t come off as so harsh or astringent, tends to make me think of Hufflepuff’s reputation for being friendly and kind. But I think what is most telling, for me, is the chamomile. Chamomile has such a soothing, calming effect on the body, and anyone who chooses a path of hard work and dedication is going to need a nice, warm, relaxing drink to unwind. It’s easier to have patience with a calm mind, and this tea has the odd effect of providing alertness and a relaxed disposition at the same time. The flavor profile of this tea is very balanced, and Hufflepuff is one of the most inclusive and balanced of the Houses. It really is a good choice, and I can easily imagine this being a drink of choice in the earthy Hufflepuff common room.

On a scale of 0-5, I’m awarding 5 points to Hufflepuff in this category.

So how much does The Sacrifice blend remind me of inspiration Cedric Diggory? Cara McGee who created this tea blend says, “Simple, strong and solid, a tea worth supporting.” And I can certainly understand those sentiments. This tea does have a very solid and sturdy Irish Breakfast base, and the flavor of the tea makes it warm and inviting and easy and tongue, without coming off as too harsh and astringent to the most casual of black tea drinkers. It is a tea that is easy to stand behind. The balanced flavor profile of the tea is also easy to see in Cedric’s very fair-minded nature.

Where I think it falls a little flat is it might be just a bit too balanced, as Cedric is such a strong character. Looking at the reviews for this tea, I’m not the only one that gets the impression of it being “soothing”, with many folks describing it as a “hug in a cup,” and while I found that chamomile effect a great strength for representing Hufflepuff as a whole, I feel it perhaps isn’t the best representation of a character with such a strong inner character and so many achievements. Never unfair or unkind, but soothing? I think the chamomile is more a way for the tea drinker to be soothed with the loss of this “good, and kind, and brave” character.

So I can certainly see aspects of the blend in the character, but it doesn’t quite mesh up for me, and certainly doesn’t as well as the Weasley tea. Out of five points, I’m scoring Hufflepuff a 3 in this category.

So, the blind taste test results! My librarian test subjects rated The Sacrifice tea with scores of 3, 5, 3, and 3, for a total of 14 House points! (That person who ended up loving the flavor of this tea and giving it a full five points? As coincidence would have it, he is a Hufflepuff!)

If any participants rated their teas with the same score (for example, gave multiple teas a rating of "3") I asked them to rank the teas from least to greatest preference. The tea ranked as their greatest preference would then score a bonus point. This was the case for one participant (who rated three teas with a "3") but ranked the Hufflepuff tea the highest, so it scores a bonus point!

Participants were also asked to guess which tea belonged to which House, after sampling all four teas. If any participants managed to guess a House correctly, it would score bonus points! One participant guessed the Hufflepuff tea correctly, so that’s 5 bonus points to Hufflepuff!

Here is the score:

Flavor Profile Score: 5
Representation of House Virtues: 5
Representation of Character Personality Traits: 3
Blind Taste Test Scores: 14
Bonus Points: 8

Total: 35

Great job, House Hufflepuff!

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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88

Another hit out of the park from Cara. What looks like a hodgepodge of flavors, reading the ingredient list makes me think of mixing a lot of “tea remnants” together to make a enough to brew, but turns out to be delicious.
I know Adagio likes to “ship” their custom fandom teas together, but it really does go well when paired with Cara’s Steve Rogers blend and a tea biscuit.

Flavors: Apple, Berry, Chocolate, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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66

Very coconutty – nice but you have to be in the mood for it.

Flavors: Almond, Coconut

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82

Sipdown 57/375

Again I’m cheating, because this wasn’t in my real-life cupboard and it’s been so long since the actual sipdown that I can barely remember when it was. I LOVED this tea though; it really did taste like cake. I’ve added it straight back to my wishlist and as long as Adagio still stocks it in the UK I will definitely be purchasing more when my no-buy ends (if I ever get there).

tea-sipper

Sherlock is on in the US in four days!!! I can’t wait!! I love this tea too.

Nattie

Woo! Are they showing the new one? I have the night off work and being able to watch Sherlock is the thing I’m most excited about XD

tea-sipper

I thought in the UK they air earlier than in the US? The first new episode is definitely airing Jan 1 in the US. :D

Nattie

I thought they did, too, but it must be the same time now! (: maybe a few hours behind but definitely same day.

tea-sipper

Oh cool, didn’t know that.

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90

I bought a bunch of samples from Adagio’s Fandom Collection because I wanted the tins. I did read the descriptions of what was in the tea, mind you, but I must come clean about the tins.
I have absolutely no clue what I am going to do with them when the tea is gone. I should not be permitted a credit card.
The Bucky Barnes tea is chocolate and nuts because… the Winter Soldier wears a lot of black and is crazy? (???)
Why apples? Because apples are… American? And Bucky… used to be?
Or did the person who made this just find a bunch of tasty ingredients and say “yummy, just like Sebastian Stan’s face”?
Is there any logic here?
REGARDLESS, this tastes great. It’s like a nutty, chocolatey brownie.
I would want this after skiing.
Did the Winter Soldier ever go skiing in his Russian winters? Probably not.

PS — When I went to type “Roasted Nuts” into the flavors, Roasted Chicken came up as a flavor option. If anyone has a tea that tastes like roasted chicken, please let me know, because I am dying to try that.

Flavors: Chocolate, Nuts, Roasted nuts

Preparation
3 min, 30 sec
Kristal

LOL about the roasted chicken comment.

As for the tea tin lamenting, I personally don’t have any fancy ones but I have finally caved and recycled/threw out a number of plain ones since I have so many spares. I tossed the ones that are more banged up and have ratty looking stickers (one tin had a bit of rust going on!).

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93

Great Tea Blend from Adagio, Bold Irish Breakfast, Stronger then English, For the Foggy Mornings at Baker Street, Great Cinnamon Aroma during the 3 Min, Steep Time, Slight hint of a Smokey Flavor,

Flavors: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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100

One of my faves, especially in the cooler months; this tea is essentially like a gingerbread cookie in a cup, with a dash of chocolate thrown in for a little extra decadence. Sweet and spicy, even with no sweetener added, and flavours that carry through even when milk IS added, this blend is one of my all-time favourites. I’d have it constantly in stock in my tea cupboard if Adagio’s international shipping rates weren’t a bit exorbitant. You absolutely do not need to be a BBC Sherlock fan to enjoy this tea; I bought it almost purely based on its overwhelmingly positive reviews on Adagio’s site, as part of a group order. When it came time to do another group order, Mycroft was out of stock and, as a result, the entire order was cancelled because Mycroft was the #1 tea people were intending to buy anyway. If that doesn’t sell its good reputation, I’m not sure what might.

Again, absolutely lovely in the autumn and holiday months; warm, inviting, comforting, and a little decadent. One of my all-time favourites.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Orange

Preparation
8 min or more 3 tsp 45 OZ / 1330 ML

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65

This is one of Cara McGee’s Sherlock fandom blends. It’s the one I was most hesitant about, since Gunpowder and Pu’Erh are both (to my mind) acquired tastes. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it approximately 2.5 minutes in boiling water. Water temperature with black/green blends is always something of a trial and error process for me, so I went by eye and took out the leaves once the liquor was a medium brown. The scent is typical Pu’Erh – earthy, with a slight whiff of horse manure.

To taste, the first thing that makes its presence known is (of course) the Pu’Erh. It’s milder than I anticipated, but still a distinctive flavour. The earthiness is its most prominent feature, and it’s reminiscent of compost after it’s been warmed in the sun. A wholesome, natural kind of flavour, and deeply savoury. There’s also a smooth nuttiness, which complements the earthiness really well. The Gunpowder is far less of a feature than I thought it might be. There’s a slight dankness in the aftertaste that I’ve come to associate with this variety of green tea, but it’s mostly absent on the whole. As the cup cools, it develops a light astringency.

As a fandom blend, I’m fairly happy with this one. Greg comes across as a wholesome character, keen to see the best in people. His job seems to weigh on him a bit. The Pu’Erh does a good job of capturing the wholesome aspect, brightened by the hazelnut, and the dank, almost damp-tasting Gunpowder could suggest something troubling underlying. I appreciate the thought that clearly goes into these blends; the choice of teas, the flavours, and the meanings they might have. It makes for an interesting drinking experience, especially if you’re familiar with the Sherlock series.

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/04/27/greg-lestrade-custom-blend-adagio-teas/

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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90

316/365

Another of my favourites from the Sherlock fandom blends collection. I also adored The Woman, but that one doesn’t seem to be available in the UK anymore. Insert sad face here.

Mycroft is a blend of Chocolate Chip, Cream (which are both black blends) and Rooibos Vanilla Chai. I like how smooth it is, and how well the chocolate and cream work together. They’re pretty sweet, in combination, but then you get the spiciness of the chai, and that helps to break things up. It also adds some sweetness of its own, because it has a strong vanilla sideline, but vanilla’s another flavour that works well with chocolate and cream, so somehow it all seems to come together. It’s a nicely desserty blend, and I love how well the three teas work together. It feels like it was meant to be!

What I’m less sure about, these days, is how well it sums up Mycroft. I think that might be partly because his character has developed quite a lot since these blends were created, but that’s not a fault with the blend, or even the creator. It’s just how things happen, and I don’t like it any less for that. It’s tea at the end of the day…and bloody good tea, too.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

Sipdown! Finished this one off last night – one of my favourite of the Adagio Sherlock fandom blends. I didn’t like Cream much when I tried it alone, but it’s a great supporting note in this blend, and works really well with the Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Chai. It’s especially good with milk. This one is definitely restock material, if I ever get my cupboard under control!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

This was last night’s pre-bedtime cup. I usually try and choose a herbal as my last tea of the day, but I figured I deserved a treat after the week I’ve had. Plus, this one has rooibos in it, so it’s not exactly like drinking a cup of black tea, is it? A compromise, at the very least.

I used 1tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk. Of all the Sherlock blends, this was one I was looking forward to the most. The description/combination of ingredients is one that really appeals to me. Rightly so, it turns out.

While brewing, the main scent is the chai. It’s spicy, warming, very comforting. As a result, I was expecting the chai to be the main note in the flavour, but this isn’t really the case. The initial flavour is a creamy vanilla laced with chocolate, and it’s beautifully smooth. The cream aspect is almost heavy tasting, in the way of whipped cream – very distinctive! The spiciness of the chai emerges second, and I can detect notes of ginger, cinnamon and clove. It works well with the initial vanilla/chocolate/cream combination, and puts me in mind of a spiced oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips. A little unusual, but rich and decadent at the same time, and wonderfully dessert like. I’d actually consider adding this one to my cupboard once my sample is gone. It’s not like anything else I’ve got, and it makes for a wonderful-tasting treat!

As for the fandom aspect, I actually think this one sums up Mycroft pretty well. It’s smooth, rich, and strikes a diplomatic balance between the (fairly strong) competing flavours. It clearly has friends in high places.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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95

Hands down my favorite fandom blend from Cara! It doesn’t hurt that Mycroft Holmes is my favorite of the BBC reboot. Seriously hello cake in a cup(no really)! Sweet with hints of chai spice. Perfect with milk and sugar. I prefer this one at breakfast time.

Flavors: Cake, Cardamon, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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91

Do you like cinnamon and chai spices? Well, belly up to the tea kettle and prepare for a great cuppa! I love all the spice going on in this blend. Everything just works really well even though you don’t think it should. I like adding in a little vanilla sugar and light cream or to turn it into a tea latte.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Spices, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Woot, last one! I’m not sure why I chose to leave the one that sounded worst to me for last… I do like gingerbread cookies, but I’m not a fan of ginger in tea. And I’m not a big fan of chai normally. Just looking at the dry tea, I can tell I’m not going to like it. There are a ton of whole cloves and pieces of dried ginger root in there… Dry scent is clove bomb.

The steeped tea smells very clove-y as well, but there’s a nice sweet undercurrent to it from the hazelnut. Nope, doesn’t taste sweet though. This basically tastes like a clove-only chai, possibly with some ginger added. Very one-dimensional, and not at all gingerbread-ish. I guess I should leave the rating off since I don’t like ginger. :P

Flavors: Clove, Ginger

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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60

Next! This seems like it would be an easier cookie to replicate, especially since Adagio already makes a Chocolate Chip tea, which is included in this blend. I will say, I am not a fan of actual chocolate in tea. It melts and makes an oily slick on top of my tea, plus leaves my brew basket all gunky. Not good. Dry scent is mostly sweet dark chocolate.

The steeped tea actually smells strongly of almond extract, which is odd since it’s supposed to be chocolate chip. I can also smell chocolate and a touch of cinnamon. Hmm. The taste is actually mostly just generic black tea with a little bit of chocolate mixed in. If I really concentrate, I can maybe taste a bit of the almond? Disappoint. :P

Flavors: Chocolate, Tea

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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65

I figured I should get these other three Christmas cookie teas over with, teehee. It’s been a very long time since I last had a coconut macaroon, but I remember them being tasty. And I don’t remember them being spiced, so I’m confused by the addition of cardamon to this tea… Oh well! I see mixed oolong and black tea leaves with quite a few stems and a couple shreds of coconut. Dry scent is strong on the cardamon…

Hmm… Once again, I don’t understand the cardamon in here. It’s quite strong in the taste as well, and overpowers the other lighter and more macaroon-like flavors. Underneath the spice, I can taste the chestnut, coconut, and almond flavors. Even without the cardamon, I don’t think this would be great. Just okay.

Flavors: Cardamon, Coconut, Nuts, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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75

Next one up from “Christmas Cookies”! Peppermint bark isn’t technically a cookie, but it is delicious and Christmas-y so I’ll accept it. Unfortunately, this looks to be mostly green tea, though it’s technically a green/black blend. I can see the crushed peppermint leaves in here, as well as some crushed spices from the chai and a couple of cacao nibs. I think I saw one tiny piece of candy cane. Dry scent is peppermint with a sweet edge.

The steeped tea mostly smells of peppermint, with a little bit of green tea aroma. Hmm, this one is odd. The peppermint is actually milder than I expected it to be, and I can taste a little bit of the chai spices, though they meld well with the peppermint. I don’t taste a ton of green tea, which is nice. I can perhaps see a little bit where the white chocolate is coming from? But there’s certainly no milk or dark chocolate taste here, and overall it’s too mild to be peppermint bark. Not bad, though!

Flavors: Grass, Peppermint, Spices, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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70

Next one up from my “Christmas Cookies” sampler! I actually like thumbprint cookies a lot, though I tend to go for apricot jam (my favorite) instead of the usual raspberry. This tea has a lot of dried apple pieces in it, as well as the generic tea leaves, hibiscus, and rose hips. Dry scent is, again, surprisingly weak. I can smell a bit of hibiscus and hazelnut, which makes for an odd combination.

The steeped cup also smells of hibiscus with a bit of hazelnut added in. Not excited… :P Nope nope nope. Actually, I think this would come pretty close to the idea of a thumbprint cookie, but the hibiscus just makes the “jam” part of it way too tart. If there wasn’t hibiscus, I think this would actually be fairly tasty! :P Stupid hibby!

Flavors: Hazelnut, Hibiscus, Raspberry, Tart, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Roswell Strange

Try picking the hibby out?

Cameron B.

Not worth, ha ha. :P

Daddyselephant

My mom ordered a jam basket from her sister for all of us kids, which means I now have six jars of jam that I have no idea what to do with. Thumbprint cookies might just be in my future!

Cameron B.

Yummy! You could also make jam and oatmeal bars! Delish.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/02/strawberry-oatmeal-bars/

Nicole

Don’t Russians use jam in teas as a sweetener?

OMGsrsly

YES. Although I use the Canadian Living blueberry oat bars and use 1 cup of jam instead of making filling. Depending on the jam I use orange or lemon zest, or vanilla.

Daddyselephant

Y’all are awesome

Daddyselephant

The jam and oatmeal bars sounds like I wrote it, which cracks me up. My wife is super excited to try those, since two of the jars are cherry and she looooves cherry. We will be making some this weekend!

Cameron B.

Oooh I love cherry, too! Those will be amazing. :D

OMGsrsly

I totally have oat bars in the oven, using some peach-lavender jam I made a couple years ago. I put vanilla in the oat mix. :D

Plunkybug

I also prefer apricot over raspberry. I totally would try this, but thanks for the hibby warning. Blech!

Daddyselephant

We’re going to make two batches, a cherry one for De to take to work and a strawberry one for me at home. I think I’ll use almond for the cherry bars and vanilla for the strawberry! I should find a recipe that calls for water and experiment with tea oat bars….

Cameron B.

OMGsrslyHAH, I ended up making some last night too! I used some apple pie jam that miss Stephanie made and sent me for Christmas. Delish! :D

OMGsrsly

I saw your picture but was falling asleep so I didn’t comment. :D Aisling, those flavour combos sound GREAT.

Daddyselephant

I love that this tasting note has become “LET’S ALL COOK WITH JAM

Roswell Strange

(Is sad because I have no jam at home to cook with)

Daddyselephant

If only you worked in some kind of grocery store… ;)

Plunkybug

Mmmm, those sound good aisling and omgsrsly.

OMGsrsly

Hahahaha, good one Aisling. Yeah, I had mine for breakfast. I use WAY less sugar than the Pioneer Woman recipe though. Jam is sweet anyways.

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65

I’m not sure what compelled me to order this “Christmas Cookies” fandom sampler from Adagio… I have yet to find a tea from them that I’ve liked enough to actually order, and most of them are extremely underwhelming to me. Oh well, I ordered these, so I might as well try them! This sounded the yummiest out of the bunch, I love a good ol’ sugar cookies, with or without frosting. This tea also has a touch of lemon, which I’ve done in sugar cookie frosting before and found it very tasty. The tea is a mixture of small, generic black leaves, a few pieces of lemon balm, and some sprinkles. Dry scent is quite weak, I can smell the sprinkles more than anything.

The steeped tea does smell rather close to a plain sugar cookie – it has a mild and almost bready dessert aroma. However, I don’t think it really tastes like a sugar cookie. The problem is the base – it’s too strong and too malty to be used in a sugar cookie tea, I would have chosen a white tea perhaps. I can taste the almond and vanilla flavors, but no lemon. Overall, it’s a resounding meh. It could possibly be more cookie-ish if sugar and milk were added.

Flavors: Almond, Malt, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Roswell Strange

Remind me to send you The Woman some time if I haven’t already; it’s certainly my favourite Adagio blend and one of (if not her favourite) VariaTEA’s as well. I originally ordered 3 oz. and then reordered that same amount – and she’s ordered it for herself now too. It surprisingly works REALLY well.

Cameron B.

I’ll try to remember the next time we swap! :)

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70

A robust tea that makes one think of leather and smoke. But don’t let it frighten you off; it’s got plenty of heart. This tea is full of gruff flavor between the pu erh dante and gunpowder. The hazelnut is faint among the presence of the other two teas, but the blend is comforting in a way that reminds you of curling up in your father’s armchair, wrapped in a well worn flannel shirt.

Flavors: Leather, Smoke

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

This is a favorite custom blend from Adagio from a ridiculous facet of fandom. It is spicy and warm from cinnamon and chai spices with smooth vanilla/almond flavors. A great low-caffeine blend that warms you up and gets your blood pumping… just like John’s Red Pants.

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Description from Adagio: leather… a distinguished, if tired blend. Yep, I’d say that’s pretty accurate. There’s something nutty and… old… it’s just not my thing, although I could see my Dad having wanted to drink this as he smoked one of his pipes. Yep, that’s what this tastes like — hazelnut tobacco, the good kind. (Is there a good kind?)

Anyway. Not for me. Anyone else like this sorta flavor? I’ll send it along.

Flavors: Leather, Tobacco

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
jump62359

Oh but Lestrade though! I purchased him like two years ago, wow. But I remember loving him a ton because he was like the first tea I’ve ever purchased out of my Lupicia bubble haha

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