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Tea Review: The Goblin Queen

Official Description on Adagio:

The Goblin Queen

The world fell down and you fell with it

Created by: Kayla Walker

Ingredients & Lore:
Blended with black tea, oolong tea, lavender flowers, natural vanilla flavor, orange peels, natural peach flavor, blue cornflowers, natural bergamot flavor, natural creme flavor, marigold flowers, apricots, apple pieces

Teas: peach, earl grey lavender, vanilla oolong

Steep at 212° for 3 minutes

This tea contains a high level of caffeine.
Sarah, Jareth and the Labyrinth belong to Jim Henson, Artwork by Rebecca Morse

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My Review

The scent of this tea bursts from the bag, the bite of earl grey, bergamot, and orange balanced out by creamy peach, lavender, apple, and apricot tones; a freshly invigorating and fruity aroma.

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I took this cup black, steeped at the recommended 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but for about four minutes. I cannot say if that one minute makes much of a difference; perhaps I should compare sometime? The resultant color of four minutes’ worth of steeping was a smoky brown, and the aroma remarkably reduced. A rich, creamy note I often associate with the addition of blue cornflowers rises to the fore.

The first sips are warm and somewhat heavy in the mouth, most likely thanks to the earl grey component, but do not linger on the tongue. The orange peels really come into play here, leaving a fresh, pleasant aftertaste.  Earl grey, which I will often add milk and honey to, pairs very well with the vanilla and cream elements of this blend.

Pro tip: teas with cream blends are almost always enhanced by the addition of milk. I did not try it for this review, but I may update later once I have – let me know if blend follow-ups are something people would be interested in!

A pot of this blend will be sure to comfort on any dreary afternoon. I gave this tea 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Limpë Tea

I apologize for the late review, dear readers! But as certain someone once said, to paraphrase, a wizard is neither early nor late, but always exactly on time. And so, here is another Thirsty Thursday tea review!

Today’s review focuses on the second bag of tea I purchased at Geeky Teas: Limpëimage

The description reads, “White peony leaves are fair and glorious to taste and could cure all ills to joy, merriment and creativity.” Cracking open the bag, the scent of dried grass greets  me immediately. Any guesses as to what influenced this blend yet? In Quenya, limpë means “drink of the Valar” (and sometimes also wine, but as this is a nonalcoholic beverage, I’ll stick with “drink of the Valar.” Variation includes “drink of the fairies.” In John Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales, it is said to be very fragrant and possess healing properties. Another story states that one sip could turn a human into an elf, but there was only record of one ever having done so.

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The delicacy of the white peony dictates the entire flavor profile of this tea. I steeped a teaspoonful at approximately 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes, and the most impressive aspect of this cuppa is how mild it is. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Perhaps it has been made specifically with the sensitive Elvish nature in mind?

After steeping, the grassy aroma virtually disappears. The color of the brew is a very light maple or balsa wood – somewhat difficult to define so here, have a photo:image

 

Although even the photo cannot adequately grasp the fine wood hues with greenish undertones in the cup.

Since this tea calls for a lower brewing temperature, I can actually drink it sooner without scalding my tongue. For such a mild flavor, the tea is strangely comforting, almost otherworldly. It is very pleasant to drink, and there are no strong after tastes or particular flavors that overwhelm the blend. It is quietly fortifying and serene. Such is the nature of a drink of the Valar, I suppose.

I have had a whole cup, but I don’t feel like an elf yet. Boo. However, it is still totally worth a try. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Tea Review: Hannibal Lecter Blend

Today’s (unfortunately) late review features Cara McGee’s Hannibal Lecter blend.

The official description on Adagio reads: “blended with assam melody, pu erh dante, orange peels, rose hips, hibiscus flowers, natural orange flavor

teas: pu erh dante, assam melody, blood orange

accented with cinnamon and cloves

steep at 212° for 3 mins

this tea contains a high level of caffeine
*it does not contain people”

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Swiggity swag the nightmare stag

Upon first whiff of the freshly opened bag, the most prevalent aroma is blood orange, a heavy and vaguely citrusy scent. For a blend that features cloves as an ingredient, it surprisingly don’t overwhelm the other components.

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Look at this gorgeous blend

I steeped a heaping teaspoon of Hannibal (haha) for about 3 minutes, resulting in a deep ochre color in my cup.  The scent of blood orange almost goes away completely, leaving mellow remnants you can barely distinguish; kind of like old-school orange peel, cinnamon, and clove mixes that I simmer in a pot on low heat in the winter to serve as a sort of a natural holiday potpourri. (Truth be told, all the above-mentioned ingredients are generally the leftovers from when I make mulled wine or cider, so…)

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Dark….like Hannibal’s soul

 

At this point, the Assam melody and pu erh dante really take over. The only clue I have that there are cloves in this blend is the slightly spicy aftertaste. It is actually a bit difficult to pick apart all the different flavored of the tea, so subtly do they mix together. However, if you find Assam melody or pu erh dante too strong, this blend may not be for you.

Overall, the  Hannibal blend is darkly smooth, rich, and strangely satisfying.  I am absolutely bring another cup while I watch tonight’s episode of Hannibal.

I know I’ve been warned about the caffeine content, but so far, so good.  Then again, I am a person who drinks a lot of coffee. I may not be the best judge of what a “high level” of caffeine feels like.

I give this blend four out of five stars. You can purchase it here .

 

*PS  this entire review was written on my iPhone and mostly with voice recognition. Hopefully the formatting is OK. Wooo, technology!

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Tea Review: Groot Root Tea

So a local favorite store of mine recently shuttered its primary location as a steampunk shop and reopened as Geeky Teas, a tea shoppe and specialty grocer (primarily British goods and snacks), with room for tabletop gaming. Obviously, I went to opening night and picked up a couple of bags of teas (and maybe also some snacks because why not). Geeky Teas’ motto is “Fandom with Flavor,” which is pretty much what I like in a nutshell.

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The first tea I picked up was the Groot Root Tea. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy and no, I never once thought about how I am potentially consuming a distant Groot relative… you know, if he were real (OK maybe I did). When you open the paper bag, it smells less of the vegetal earthiness of green tea and more of a bright, vaguely ginger spice and possibly a little ginseng. The aroma is invigorating in a way not unlike scenting fresh eucalyptus in the air.

As Groot Root is a green tea, the recommended brewing temperature is under the 212 Fahrenheit boiling point. Without a thermometer, reaching 180 degrees Fahrenheit can be difficult to accomplish, I ended up boiling a kettle, and then waiting ten minutes, hoping it cooled enough to a appropriate temperature. I am pretty sure you can Google search the average rate of water’s temperature increases/decreases, but my initial search resulted in some confusion, no definite answers, and the realization that apparently a lot of people wonder about this very thing.

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Once brewed for about 3 minutes, the gingery notes disappear almost completely, leaving the much more recognizable green tea as the main scent. The color is a faded green chartreuse in the cup, though that may be because my mug is white, and I have heard that white ceramics sometimes make green teas appear yellowish. Though the ginger practically disappears in the aroma, the first sips prove that the signature ginger bite is still there. Each mouthful has a light, refreshing feel.

I suspect now is an opportune time to admit I may be feeling a bit under the weather, and so my olfactory senses may not be as keen as usual. Having said that, this tea seems to be clearing up my sinuses gently, and the warmth is soothing, both in my mouth and going down my esophagus. This may end up as one of my go-to brews when I catch a cold or feel a little ill. Bonus!

There is no real aftertaste, like some heavier teas can leave in the back of the throat. There is just a vague, refreshed sort of feeling, with the faintest echoes of woody green tea and spicy ginger. As the tea cools, the scent of ginger rises, so I really must recommend getting as close to the suggested 180 degrees Fahrenheit for steeping as you possibly can. Green tea is more delicate than black tea, and as such, benefits from a slightly lower temperature in order to make the individual elements of the tea really blossom. The next time I try a cup of Groot Root, I think I’ll try adding a bit of honey. I have the feeling the two will pair well.

I give this tea 5 out of 5 stars. You can get it at Geeky Teas, 707 S Main Street, Burbank, CA 91506

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Tea Review: Dean’s Apple Pie Life

So a bunch of stuff from Sew Geek Austin arrived yesterday (yay) and chief among items was the Demon Hunters Tea Gift Set which I gifted to myself because 1) I love tea, and 2) Supernatural season 10 ended last week so why not. This i going to sound like some kind of paid endorsement of Sew Geek Austin (someone please get me everything, but mostly the House Snark shirt I am dying), but it’s not – I spent a portion of my hard-earned paycheck from the day job to treat myself to Supernatural fan merchandise and to try out one of the tea blends with the idea that I may get samples of the other blends offered if this one was to my liking (it was, so I guess I’ll be buying more tea to review).

It's a gift to me!
It’s a gift to me!

First off, the main component of this blend is rooibos, utilizing rooibos cinnamon apple and rooibos vanilla. Expect to get bits everywhere. When you open the cute little tin, the tart sweetness of apple hits the nose first, the lightest hints of vanilla smoothing out the overarching aroma and the caramel providing a bit of depth.

Rooibos cinnamon apple, caramel, and rooibos vanilla
Rooibos cinnamon apple, caramel, and rooibos vanilla

 

 

The tea ball is pretty good even though I’ve only  used once so far. It wasn’t able to keep all the rooibos inside – I think you need a mesh finer than a cheese cloth to achieve that, but the locking mechanism is good and the counterweight ensured the chain didn’t fall into my cup. Plus this one comes with an anti-possession insignia so my tea is always going to be demon-free. The hinge is where I can see potential issues in the future; it doesn’t always open easily, but with a slight jiggle it presented no problems.

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The rooibos gets everywhere

I steeped my cup at the recommended 212 degrees for five minutes. The apple notes really bloom, and the tea smells much sweeter than it does just in the tin. The rooibos really brightens this blend up (as it should, being the primary base ingredient). The tea is smooth and refreshing, with a mellow sweetness and the barest bite of cinnamon. The mouthfeel is substantial without feeling heavy, but possibly the only downside is, after finishing a cup, there is the feeling of maybe needing to brush your teeth either from bits of rooibos or that slightly sugary feel after consuming something sweet (probably from the caramel). Still, I could end up drinking several cups in a row without batting an eye, and you really ought to brush your teeth after eating and/or drinking, anyway.

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Bits of rooibos escaped the tea ball and are floating in the lovely amber-colored tea

I give this blend five out of five stars. You can purchase the tea here, or get a set like mine here.

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Thirsty Thursday Tea Review: Destiel Blend

Hello friends! I am so sorry for the lengthy, unexpected tea review hiatus. So, in honor of reviving this practice,  I offer the latest new review: the Destiel blend by Cara McGee. (This may be in direct relation to the fact that I just watched the season 10 finale of Supernatural.)

Official Description from Adagio:

ingredients & lore
blended with assam melody, black tea, natural spice flavor, cinnamon bark, orange peels, natural caramel flavor, ginger root, cloves, cardamom, cocoa nibs, natural chocolate flavor, natural vanilla flavor
teas: oriental spice, assam melody,tiger eye
accented with cinnamon and cocoa nibs
steep at 212° for 3 mins
this tea contains a high level of caffeine

Of course this tea has a high level of caffeine – are you aware of this ship?

Exactly.

So. This is a hearty yet smooth tea. The oriental spice and cinnamon provide the initial spicy punch when you first open the bag, and indeed, the scents stay strong even while steeping.

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The assam melody brings a bit of earthiness to the aroma, and the cocoa nibs a bit of richly dark sweetness. I steeped a heaping teaspoon of tea for 4 minutes in 212-degree water (as I usually do with black teas). After sitting in my cup for a few minutes, the scents decrease dramatically. the rounded black tea of the assam melody rising to the forefront, the spice light and chocolatey. The first taste (without burning the tongue) is a bit heavy but without the heft of a smokier tea like lapsang souchong, and almost oily in its lingering feel in the back of the throat, with a slightly spiced aftertaste. That cinnamon kick is a welcome, somewhat refreshing leftover.

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I’ll need to try a few more cups of this tea, and probably with a little milk, to see if I can’t make the tea just that little bit richer in mouthfeel. Thanks to the spice and cinnamon, this is a tea that you should consume sooner rather than later, although if you store it in an airtight container and away from heat and direct sunlight, it should last quite a while.

In all, I give this blend 3 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Cyberman Spirits Blend

Cyberman Spirits Blend
By Aun-Juli Riddle

Official Description on Adagio:

Drink to the spirit of Cybermen, to the deletion of emotion, and to the free upgrade to the next level of humankind! This is a deep, warm tea with full-bodied taste and a hint of sweetness.

Ingredients:
Teas: assam melody, toasted mate, cream blended with black tea, assam melody, toasted mate, natural creme flavor

My Review:

This past weekend I attended the Art of the Tardis craft faire at Clockwork Couture. I did not intend to purchase many things, but that went right out the window since there were tons of great handmade and custom items at over a dozen different booths. The Fancy Narwhal was there, with comics, stickers, and a ton of tea samples and full tea bags available. When I first arrived, the booth was terribly packed, so I elected to return later; a decision to my detriment because many of the teas had sold out by the time I went back. Still, I was able to procure a few samples, as well as a bag of Cyberman Spirits.

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The initial scent is very earthy, the toasted mate evokes images of woods to mind. Steeped at approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 minutes, the tea pours out a dark, rich brown, and the assam melody flavor is at the forefront.

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As always, my first cup was completely without additions. For the strong scent of assam melody, a mouthful is surprisingly mellow with only the tiniest bit of astringent reaction. Lightly smoky, I lose almost all trace of the mate – the assam melody is absolutely the star of this blend. The only detection of any hint of cream in this is probably the sheer smoothness of the tea. There is a barely any aftertaste.

My second cup featured a generous helping of cream and a pinch of sugar. If the first cup plain I thought was smooth, this second cup was downright silky. That tiny pinch of astringent is completely nullified with the addition of dairy (seriously, I used cream because I discovered I’d actually run out of milk).

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I must caution against oversteeping lest that assam melody and toasted mate develop bitter overtones. I am not entirely certain I would buy this blend again, but I will certainly enjoy the bag that I have for now.

I gave this blend 3 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

For more teas by Aun-Juli, visit Oh Hello Tea. You can check out here for The Fancy Narwhal.

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Tea Review: Amy Pond Blend

Official Description:

amy pond
created by: Cara McGee
Fiery, a bit tart, and ready for adventure. She’s the blend that waited.

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

ingredients:
orange, cranberry, rooibos vanilla chai

My Review

I suppose I was expecting a bit more tartness out of the cranberry and orange? Because Amy Pond. Although, perhaps the eventual mildness exactly fits the way this spitfire of a character progressed (looking at you, Moffat). Anyway.

The cloves are most certainly the dominant feature of this tea, particular upon first sniff. I put the kettle on, and once it hit boiling, I steeped a heaping teaspoonful of tea for 4 minutes. The scent diminishes significantly though the spicy hints of clove and chai remain.

As always, the first few cups I had without any additions. For all that initial clove-and-chai olfactory punch, the blend is surprisingly light and mellow. I could not detect any cranberry, save possibly for the slightest tang left on the tongue. Be slightly cautious of over-steeping lest the tea becomes too bitter.

I tried a cup with a splash of milk in the bottom. Perhaps it is because of the chai element, but the tea became creamier and somehow more rich in flavor. More cups will be had since I can’t quite determine how I feel about this tea.

I gave this blend 3.5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Steve Rogers Blend

steve rogers blend

created by: Cara McGee

As American as Apple Pie, perfectly sweet, but built for strength.

Inspired by the Marvel Comics character Steve Rogers/Captain America. I have no affiliation with Marvel or Disney or any of those related companies. This blend is made for my own enjoyment.

My Review

The spiced apple chai is probably the most prevalent scent when you open the bag, and even after you brew the tea. I let mine steep for 5-6 minutes (I had originally planned on four but got distracted by emails.) Good thing I like my teas strong. I was a little concerned that all I would taste at first would be the spiced apple chai, but though the spice is strong, it’s not overpowering. The light aftertaste of spice in the mouth is not unpleasant.

I’ll brew another cup today, most likely, and see if I can articulate any better how I feel about this blend. I had a lot of tea yesterday but didn’t have time to note all my impressions, so….yeah. I can’t quite remember everything I thought about this blend at first.

Right now I give it a tentative 3 out 5 stars.

You can buy it here.

Review Update:

It’s been a year since my initial review.

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Tea Review: Mycroft Blend

Mycroft Blend

CREATED BY: CARA MCGEE

No brother, I have not been eating more cake. I’ve been drinking it.

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

My Review

The predominant scent at first sniff is the chocolate, but if you stir the mix a bit the scents of chocolate and chai blend marvelously together, reminding me a little of subtly spiced chocolate (have you ever had chili chocolate? It is a fantastic thing.)

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I steeped my first cup for 5 minutes and drank it black. The subsequent two cups were also taken black, but steeped at about 4 minutes. Once steeped, the chai really comes to the fore, the vanilla and rooibos lending the spiciness a sweeter air, the chocolate notes growing a tad denser. The taste is smooth and for all that chocolatey aroma, the rooibos vanilla chai is the lingering flavor, and the cream adds a nice fullness and, well, creaminess, to the cup. Given all the orange peel in the picture above, one would think it would really impact the flavor, but as it is, it’s only the gentlest zest and citrusy freshness in the cup.

The fourth cup I added milk and about 3/4 teaspoon sugar. I’m usually quite unscientific about how much sugar I add, but given the sweetness of the chocolate and vanilla in this blend, I didn’t think I’d need too much sugar mycroft3for it. Blends containing chai really are so much better to me with a little milk added, I can’t explain why (though traditional chai preparation features milk, so….)  That hint of spice just goes so well together, and this blend is just so creamy and deliciously warm with the additions.

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

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