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Tea Review: Strawberry Blend

Adagio’s Strawberry Tea

BLENDED WITH BLACK TEA, NATURAL STRAWBERRY FLAVOR, STRAWBERRIES AND RASPBERRY LEAVES

Historians believe that the name ‘strawberry’ comes from an Old English tradition of placing straw on the ground around this fruit, preventing slugs and other insects from enjoying a free lunch. Once you try our delicious Strawberry Black tea, you’re sure to see why they were so protective. Combining the succulent taste of sweet strawberries with bright Ceylon black tea. Fresh sweet-floral and berry flavor, smooth and sugary texture. This is a treat you’ll keep for yourself!

My Review

The bag, when first opened, smells strongly of fresh wild strawberries; not that overly pungent scent of store-bought berries. I prepared  1 heaping teaspoon at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 3 1/2 minutes. Once steeped, the scent mellows considerably but is somehow heavier, like jam, but not as sweet. The taste is certainly not as sweet as expected, given the strawberry scent.

To be honest, I am not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I thought it would taste much more like strawberries than it did. Overall, I was not impressed with this tea. There was a slightly almost bitter astringency to it, one I think I do not enjoy. I have had two cups now, but I do not think I will be having more. However, this has more to do with the fact that I am allergic to raspberries, and raspberry leaves are included in this mix. Another blend I reviewed previously also contained raspberry leaves, but clearly that one did not have them in the same amount as this strawberry blend because I felt no ill effects from that blend. About 10 minutes after drinking the strawberry blend my mouth felt buzzy and thick, so I’m guessing that’s an allergic reaction right there and I should probably stop, so… Hm. I’m going to have to say my review is somewhat compromised by my allergy.

I gave this blend 2.5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Natasha Romanoff Blend

 

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All right, first off: I do not really recommend brewing this in the Bodum Assam Tea Press. There are some finer bits in the blend, which rise up and easily fit through the filter and sit in the bottom of the pot, which was fine until I poured it into my cup and then had bits of tea in my cup. That doesn’t really bother me, but it might bother some. Or I suppose you could run it through an extra filter as you pour? I don’t know.

Anyway, tea blend: Natasha Romanoff. Here is the official description on Adagio:

Natasha Romanoff

CREATED BY: CARA MCGEE

A worldly blend, based off of Russian tea culture. A strong, smokey tea perfect for a busy spy.
Based on characters owned by Marvel/Disney. This tea blend is created purely for my own enjoyment.

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My Review

The scent is almost insidious. With the lapsang souchong and assam melody, I thought it would hit me harder, be more in my face proclaiming its strength like the Sherlock or Tony Stark blends, but it does not. Instead, while strong, it sort of infiltrates the olfactory senses, the slight astringency belying the depth of its smokiness. Is it the currant blend that does it? I am not sure.romanoff3

Amusingly, there are raspberry leaves in the currant mix, and I can only hope not too many. Amusing, I say, because I am actually allergic to raspberries. We’ll see how it goes.

I brewed it at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for four minutes. I joke in the photo below about the tea being the same color as Natasha’s hair – trick of the light coming in from the back of the pot. Don’t wait for the tea to become that color; it will not happen. It’ll turn more like a nice, deep shade of russet. Plain, the blend is smooth and strong. The intensity of the flavor mellows with time in the cup. The smokiness is not harsh at all, as it can sometimes be a bit overpowering in other lapsang blends (Sherlock, I’m looking at you, though I will admit it could also be my fault in over-steeping – I am bad about that.)

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I don’t even mind when the tea gets cold in my cup, as it invariably does when I get distracted working. The flavors blend even more, cool and distinctive. Just like its namesake, for the strength of this blend, the fact that it leaves hardly any trace (in terms of aftertaste) is impressive.

I gave this blend 4 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Twinings English Breakfast

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Twinings English Breakfast Tea

Now, I know I’ve said that I prefer loose leaf teas, and I do, but I find that there is nothing wrong with enjoying bagged teas as well. In my younger years (and also before I was earning my own income,) I pretty much took what I could get. I think Twinings is my favorite brand of English Breakfast tea, though that may be due more to nostalgia. I plan on trying more Clipper Teas, so Twinings may get dethroned, and I really do love PG tips. Actually, it may prove impossible for me to select a favorite at this point simply because there is still so much more to try (like Taylor’s of HarrogateTetleyAhmadNambarrieLyons, etc.)

Regardless, Twinings’ English Breakfast has always been my “comfort cuppa” and I prefer it with milk and sugar. I heat up the water (now that I’ve got an electric kettle, boiling all the way, baby,) put my tea bag in my cup, and pour the water in. Now, the tea bag, upon opening its individual wrapping, has a weak aroma (contrary to what I remember) so I twining2wasn’t sure if this batch would be all that good. I let it steep for at least 3 minutes, but often closer to 5 minutes. I usually wait until the tea looks very, very dark. Then I remove the tea bag, wringing it against my spoon to get all the lovely flavor I can, and add milk and a teaspoon of sugar. If you refer to the picture above, that’s about the color I get after adding milk, although on average it’s generally a shade darker, like the color of a mocha latte. (Someone wasn’t paying attention this time round and over-poured her milk. It happens.)

I’ve always enjoyed the flexibility of this blend. While I can drink it plain, I vastly prefer the creamier feeling and taste of adding milk and sugar. There’s also a bit of an aftertaste (though I am used to it) that is definitely mitigated with the addition of milk and sugar. However, it is not bitter, and maintains a robust flavor despite not having a robust aroma. Although… I seem to remember the bagged tea having a stronger aroma years ago? And actually…. I prefer the loose leaf version of this tea, but the tea bags are perfectly acceptable, particularly in a pinch. I often enjoy this tea with some kind of pastry, and it makes for a delightful break in the afternoon.

I gave this blend 4 out of 5 stars.

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Hardware Review: IngenuiTEA

ingenuitea1

This is quite possibly the greatest asset for tea-making I’ve purchased in a long while. While it is pretty much just good for single cup brewing, I prefer this because it makes me brew a new cup every time which means there are no over-steeped remnants in the pot. And really, it hardly takes any time at all to do – just a few minutes, and it’s totally worth it.
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I boil my water and scoop a teaspoon full of whatever tea I am planning to drink and drop it into the ingenuiTEA. When the water is ready, I pour it into the ingenuiTEA, close the lid, and then wait. At first, I had been using our Keurig to heat the water, which means it was around 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Since I’ve been making so much tea, though, my mother got an electric kettle that boils the water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and I’ve been using that ever since.

It’s lovely to watch the tea leaves unfurl and the water grow deeper in color. When the tea is ready, you just pop the ingenuiTEA on top of your cup and it drains automatically. Please note two things: 1) this will not work well for wide-mouthed cups (like those oversize coffee cup types) and 2) you need to make sure you don’t overflow. The ingenuiTEA is about 16 oz, and most cups range from 8-12 oz. For the cups we use in my house, I find filling the ingenuiTEA to about the middle to the top of the words “ingenuiTEA” on the outside is a good measurement (it depends on if I’m adding milk or not.) It will take a little experimentation on your part to figure out what will work best for you.

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Tea Review: Reichenbach Recovery Blend

reichenrecovery1

Reichenbach Recovery

CREATED BY: CARA MCGEE

Only time will heal your broken heart. Maybe this tea will at least bring a little comfort until Sherlock reappears.

This is purely indulgent. My favorite tea for a while has been Earl Grey bravo, with a dash of hazelnut syrup (it’s what I order at coffee shops when I go with my friends, since I don’t drink coffee). It’s a very comforting taste to me, and the flavors all go surprisingly well together. It’s a bit like fresh baked cookies.

ingredients:
earl grey bravohazelnutcaramel

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My Review

The scents of hazelnut and caramel hit first and strongest, sweet and nutty and warm, though tempered by the Earl Grey Bravo. Perhaps this is because I just got the shipment a little while ago, and it is abysmally hot in Modesto at the moment so the package was also pretty warm. Maybe the heat awoke the hazelnut and caramel in the tin. Once brewed (I did my by-now-customary 212 degrees Fahrenheit, 1 heaping teaspoon, steep for 5 minutes) the aroma is still sweet and warm but slightly muted, almost heavier, if that makes any sense.

Cup 1: Oh my god, yes, this tea does taste like Froot Loops. Or Fruity Pebbles. Taken without anything, I could have probably steeped it a minute or so less, but at 5 minutes I’m pretty sure Recovery is going to be awesome with milk and sugar. The caramel and Earl Grey Bravo flavors, and a little of the hazelnut, remain slightly in the mouth after drinking. Overall, the cup offers a warm, comforting feeling, and you can forget about whatever is ailing you for a little while.reichenrecovery3

Cup 2: With milk and a very little sugar this time. Even more like a wonderful bowl of bygone breakfasts of my youth. I still have the expectation that I ought to be crunching down on some bit of cereal though, which makes me think this would be an awesome addition to some sort of baked good. Like an oatmeal Recihenbach cookie, maybe. That….actually sounds really good right now.  And yes, this tea really is as soothing and delicious as it seems.

I gave this blend 5 out of 5 stars. I’m so glad I got it in the tin as this is going to be a staple in my tea cupboard, I’m sure. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Tony Stark Blend

stark_tea1

Tony Stark

CREATED BY: CARA MCGEE

Brash, Aggressive, and Rich. A blend at once frustrating and charming.

Based on characters owned by Marvel/Disney. This tea blend is created purely for my own enjoyment.

 

My Review

The scent of this tea comes out swinging. The lapsang souchong almost punches you in the face at first, but sweet strains of caramel and a heady undercurrent of chocolate float up if you continue inhaling the scent (while possibly looking like a crazy person standing round breathing tea tins, but if you are home alone, no problem.) In this particular batch, the barest hint of ginger comes through in the aroma – probably overpowered by the lapsang.

I steeped a heaping teaspoon at 212 degrees for four minutes, until it was a nice, dark amber color. In the cup, the ginger finally comes through, offering a mellowed sharpness even as the smokiness of the lapsang decreases. As before, I tried this tea without any frills added; a nice, bare-bones introduction to the flavors. Honestly, lapsang can be a little too aggressive at times, particularly if one is not in the mood for a strong tea. However, this blend benefits from the richness of the chocolate and caramel; they supply a smoothness to the smoky intensity of the lapsang and open the door to the subtlest after-bite of ginger, a near-tingling vibrancy left in the mouth after a cup. stark_tea2

The cooler the cup becomes, the more the scent of caramel rises. Fortunately, this blend does not suffer from becoming bitter when cold (I have had problems lately with finishing a cup while it is still hot when I am working and/or writing.) In fact, the additional time in the cup seems to give the blend greater opportunity for the flavors to mesh, and they really complement each other while proclaiming their individuality; a pleasant heaviness threading through and tying all the flavors together long after the cup is drained.

I give this tea 4 out of 5 stars. At first, I was hovering around a 3/3.5 score, but knew part of the low initial impression was because I was unsure how to interpret the subtly deeper complexity of this blend. I tried additional cups and knew it deserved a higher score.

You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Watson Blend

watson_tea1

watson blend

created by: Cara McGee
Queen and Country traditionalist, but still recounting his days in Afghanistan drinking green tea, John Watson prefers his tea with a bit of cream, no sugar, and just a little warm from a touch of cinnamon.

Inspired by BBC’s Sherlock, which I am in no way affiliated with. This is created purely for my own enjoyment.

My Review

When first opening the bag, the smell of cinnamon is quite strong, with layers of the earl grey green running through. I brewed my first cup for 5 minutes, and opted for it plain (again, I take my teas strongly.) Upon initial tasting, I was pretty sure this would be phenomenal with a little milk since I do often favor the bolder Irish Breakfast tea with milk. I like the substantial, warm feel of this tea, which has a fairly smooth flavor with only a little bit of a spicy, florally bite at the end, thanks to the cinnamon and earl grey.
I brewed a second cup to go with the second half of the soccer game, this time adding a splash of milk and a tiny bit of sugar. The additions made the tea that much more smooth in the mouth, and the cinnamon and earl grey notes are still marvelously present.

I give this tea 4 out of 5 stars. You can get it here.

Additional note: It’s been about a week since this initial review. This blend has really grown on me when I make it with a healthy dose of milk and sugar. It is excellent like this.

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Tea Review: Son of Coul Blend

coulson_tea2

son of coul

created by: Cara McGee

Strong, Reliable, motivating, and loyal to the end. A cup of tea worth Avenging.
Inspired by the Marvel Comics/Disney character Phil Coulson. I have no affiliation with Marvel or Disney or any of those related companies. This blend is made for my own enjoyment.

 

My Review

All the Pheels….
Well, as with the Thor tea (snerk) the toasted mate is kind of the prevalent scent, though the tiger eye – particularly the caramel – rises up and sticks with you. The chestnut adds its roasty goodness to the overall scent of toastiness. Someone else mentioned that it kind of smells like raisins? Yeah, it kinda does. And another person noted that it smelled like trail mix. I can certainly agree with that; the aroma is definitely evocative of trail mix with the roasty-toasty goodness and sweet notes. I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to taste, given this blend of smells.

I used one heaping teaspoon for about 12 oz of water. I stirred it up in the tin a bit to get a nice mix of tea leaves and mate (note picture above!) and let it steep about 4 minutes (I seriously love the ingenuitea.)

coulson_tea1

This hearty, nutty tea is so comforting to me. It’s got a nice, full body that rolls around smoothly in your mouth (releasing more caramel and nutty notes) but doesn’t leave a weird aftertaste. Though it smells sweet, that doesn’t transfer to the flavor at all like how a fruit tea can be very sweet. It’s really just a nice, soothing cup.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars. You can get it here.

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Tea Review: Thor Blend

Thor Tea (sounds really funny to me)
Thor Tea (sounds really funny to me)

thor blend

created by: Cara McGee

A deep, strong flavor, incredibly masculine, with bright notes of apricot.
Inspired by the Marvel Comics character Thor. I have no affiliation with Marvel or Disney or any of those related companies. This blend is made for my own enjoyment.

My Review

So, right off the bat, I know I’m going to have to brew this a couple more times to really get a feel for the blend. Like the description says, it has a deep flavor. You can certainly smell the sweetness of the apricot, but the taste of it is much more subdued. The toasted mate (as with the Coulson blend) really, really comes through.

The deeper tones of the ceylon and mate are kind of defying my description at the moment – I’m just not sure how to describe it. I think it must be the slight tang of the ceylon sonata I’m noticing? It is pleasant, though.

However, I think I messed up on my first cup and didn’t steep it for long enough and that is probably why I couldn’t quite get a handle on the flavors.

I’ve brewed a second cup: 200 degrees Fahrenheit, 1 heaping teaspoon, around 12 oz of water, steeped for 5 minutes. Opening the tin (as with the original bag) the first thing you smell is the sweetness of the apricot. It’s really quite fruity.

Once brewed, the apricot scent diminishes significantly, though you can still detect it (of course, this could be because I steeped mine for 5 minutes. I got distracted by a game.) It’s not as strong in flavor as I thought it would be; at least, I don’t find it quite as hearty as the Son of Coul blend. Thor is (surprisingly) kind of mellow. Having said that, it still maintains the toasted mate flavor very well, with hints of the sweet taste of apricot that lingers on the tongue.

I enjoy teas that I don’t have to add anything to, and Thor is one of those.

After the second cup, which was about a million times better than the first time round, I give this 4 of 5 stars. You can buy it here.

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Tea Review: The Woman Blend

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the woman
Incredibly seductive to any man (or woman): the scent of fresh cookies, hints of cherry, and just a whiff of smoke. created by: Cara McGee

Inspired by BBC’s Sherlock, which I am in no way affiliated with. This is created purely for my own enjoyment.

My Review

This tea smells so, so sweet and fruity at first, you can barely catch the smoky hint of lapsang souchong in there. I mean, really, that honeybush vanilla is fragrant beyond imagination. I steeped my first cup at 212 degrees for four minutes, watching it turn a lovely sort of ochre-ombre color. The sweet vanilla scent remained, though not as pungent as when I first opened the bag to transfer it to my tin. (And even opening the tin packs a powerfully sweet punch to the senses.) It kind of reminded me of Jell-O when you first make it, before setting it to chill in the refrigerator; just nowhere near as strong a scent. The steeping also brought the lapsang a bit more to the forefront. Honestly, I was a little worried that it would be overpoweringly sweet. Don’t misunderstand; I enjoy fruity, sweet teas, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for that just then. Lucky for me, though the blend is sweet and fruity, it wasn’t off-puttingly so (Teavana white peach blend, I’m looking at you.)woman2

The dewy cherry supplies a vague cherry essence to the tea with only the tiniest tarty bite I often associate with cherries (though perhaps the vanilla is a mitigating factor?) To be perfectly candid, I was a little reminded of sugar-free Kool-Aid (I drank that stuff like an alcoholic when I was a child.) The lapsang lends a gravity to the sweetness, however, making this a blend with a duality that can be enjoyed down to the dregs.

I’ve already had two cups since starting this review, so there you have it….

I give this tea 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

 

(Reviewer’s note: I will be reposting all of my tea reviews from the previous version of GGW since they were lost in the transfer. I’ll try to get the original posting dates correct, but I cannot guarantee anything.)

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