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Recent 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 received this tea in loose leaf as a sample in my last Adagio order. I’d read elsewhere that it was good without milk and sugar, but immediately the black tea bitterness hit me. The aroma was good and smelled like candy apples, but the taste was far from it. Will have to revisit this one with milk and sugar.
Flavors: Apple, Caramel
This was my first loose leaf tea, as I’m trying to break away from tea bags, milk, and sugar. It was very mild in flavour, but there was no after taste and the aroma was exactly as advertised: chocolate with orange overtones.
Flavors: Chocolate, Orange
This has long been a favorite of mine. It’s bright but mellow. Smooth and deep. I’ve tried a couple other citrus/pu erh blends that were overpowering on the citrus. This Adagio mix keeps the citrus notes subtle enough to just complement the earthy pu erh flavour without overwhelming the whole cup. This was my daily tea for a while, but I’ve recently gotten back in the habit of experimenting. I’ll probably go back to this on the regular though.
I used an entire sample for a pitcher of cold brew, and it turned out awesome! Tasted just like Cherry Kool-Aid, minus some sugar. There was some natural sweetness, but not so much that it felt sickly or like I was drinking something ‘bad’. There was also a good bit of tanginess.A nice healthy alternative to more sugar-heavy juices and soft drinks.
Don’t think I’d try it hot though – not a fan of hot, sweet fruit teas.
Flavors: Cherry, Hibiscus, Sweet
So, this was a free sample. I’ll admit that I started out prepared not to like this too much. Though I am a Leo, I have always been laughably mismatched with my Zodiac sign (I’ve been told this is because I was born “on a cusp”, but my eyes glaze over at that point). Regardless, most things Leo-themed are not for me.
But this was actually good! Nice gentle blend of oolong and rooibos. And while I usually don’t like tea with citrus (I know, the deck was stacked against this one for me), the way the orange hits at the end is fun and pleasant. It’s just a very bright tea that’s good for a snowy day. Not sure if I’d buy more of it, but I’m happy to have a small sample.
I always have an interesting time trying to brew these in my gaiwan, because the leaves are SO tightly rolled. The second steep always runs the best for me.
First of all, my favorite thing about this tea is the look of it. Ali Shan has the most beautiful leaf-lay when you’re done steeping. Talk about a picture perfect leaf. Gorgeous large, wrinkled green leaves that fill up the entire gaiwan after only being a tiny amount to start with. The liquor is a light amber/green and it’s beautifully translucent. A very pretty tea.
The initial aroma is vegetal but not in a lawn-clippings king of way, it’s very approachable. It’s more of a mossy, wet river rocks kind of smell. The smell is a lot less floral than the actual taste, however.
The taste is delightfully buttery, smooth, more like a green than an oolong at some points. The second steep always carries more of the floral aspects than the first. There’s aspects of honeysuckle that like to peek out in the different infusions. The taste changes so much because there’s a decent amount of stem material in the tea that infuse a little less or more depending on the state of unfurl the leaf is in.
It’s a relaxing tea, a mind clearer. I always seem to come back to it even though I have left Adagio for other companies. Maybe when I run out I might go back for a little more.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Green, Honeysuckle, Vegetal
I was first introduced to tea some years ago by my British roommate at the time. This tea always reminds me of the tea he used to make. I have tried a couple of other Ceylons, and this one is still currently my favorite. I drink mine with milk and sugar, and it never fails to make my taste buds feel at home. For me, this tea has a nice malty flavor with a hint of citrus. I will drink this tea in the morning, but in my opinion, it is perfect for afternoon tea.