I often say Tea is my religion, and I worship at its altar. I cannot survive a day without a few cups of tea. And I am always in search of that perfect brew, exploring new varieties and brands. To my delight, I was asked to test and review a selection of Adagio teas.
The first variety I tried was Cream. Cream is a mix of black tea with a natural cream flavour. It is very aromatic, as soon as you open a sealed packet, you can smell sweet cream with a hint of vanilla. It is not an overwhelming sweetness, just a hint of cream in the taste. Refreshing, dark caramel in colour, it is a beautiful brew. Like all Adagio teas, it is an artisan tea, and as such is imaginative and creative.
Pu Erh Hazelberry is an inspired combination of tea, hazelnut and strawberry. It is truly aromatic, with a nutty flavour, and an added note of sweetness from cream and strawberries.
It reminded me a bit of a hazelnut liquor. Its ingredients are pu erh tea, strawberries, cocoa nibs, natural strawberry flavour, natural creme flavour and natural hazelnut flavour.
Pu erh tea is well known for its digestive properties. I have also read it is good for weight loss, but having tested several varieties of pu erh tea, I didn't notice any weight loss. Never mind, I enjoy this tea for its unique taste. And it is excellent after a rich meal, it definitely helps with digestion.
I was thrilled to discover several varieties of Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey is always my first choice of tea.
Earl Grey Bravo (what a lovely name!) is a classic blend of premium black tea from Sri Lanka, orange peels, natural earl grey flavour and blue cornflowers. It is quite bergamotty, but not as strong as some other brands (in fact, some add so much bergamot oil that the teabags are oily to touch and even reek of perfume). Bravo is a delicious well-rounded tea, best enjoyed with a slice of lemon. Please don't ruin it by adding milk, which disguises its flavour. The citrus note is quite lingering.
If you are trying to cut down your caffeine intake, a Decaf Earl Grey might be an answer. This blend combines decaf Ceylon black tea with orange peels, natural bergamot flavour and blue cronflowers. I have noticed that Adagio likes to add the cornflower petals to its Earl Grey range, and I wonder why? It looks very pretty, but this is not a traditional classic Earl Grey ingredient, and its delicate taste is lost in the bergamot flavouring. It does have health benefits, but I would be curious to find out why it is present in all Earl Grey teas from Adagio that I have tried.
What about the taste? This tea is milder than Bravo, and is a good late afternoon tea, when you want to keep away from caffeine.
I love scented rooibos tea, and Rooibos Earl Grey is a perfect combination of my two favourite tea varieties: rooibos and Earl Grey. Close your eyes, and take a first sip. There is an orange peel present in this blend, with a bergamot flavour. Cornflower flavour is quite hidden, though you can see its pretty blue specks in the rich rusty autumnal glory of rooibos. The smell is very pleasant. It tastes smooth and balanced.
This Earl Grey is milder than many other Earl Greys, because rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free. You can drink it any time of the day, and I particularly enjoyed it in the late afternoon. Just look at the gorgeous colour!
Earl Grey Green is another take on a classic tea. Instead of the black tea, here you find a combination of fresh green tea, orange peels, natural bergamot flavour and blue cornflowers. It has an almost crisp flavour. I am not the biggest fan of green tea, I appreciate its health benefits but not very keen on its pure taste. Make it flavoured and scented, and I am hooked.
The tea itself looks very colourful, almost impressionistic. I still prefer the black variety of Earl Grey, but this would be a good choice for green tea lovers. Half a teaspoon of honey in your cuppa might remove the slightly bitter aftertaste.
The last of Adagio Earl Grey family that I tried was Earl Grey Lavender. I kept it till the end, as I was a bit apprehensive about its taste. In the past I tried a lavender Earl Grey from a well-known brand, and it was quite awful. In fact, when a friend of mine tasted it, she declared that lavender belonged in the bathroom not in tea. And while I don't agree with her, that particular tea was indeed like drinking a diluted bath gel. I brewed my Adagio Earl Grey Lavender and tasted it.
I was pleasantly surprised. The scent was quite strong and perfumey but the taste was very satisfying. If I may make a suggestion, try this tea with some dark chocolate. If ever there was a perfect tea-chocolate combination, this would be it. The lavender flavour cuts through the richness of dark chocolate. A very drinkable brew, in fact, it's probably one of my top choices of the nine Adagio tea varieties I have tasted. Its ingredients include black tea, lavender flowers, orange peels, blue cornflower, natural vanilla, bergamot and creme flavour.
I'm not usually too keen to add milk to tea, but with chai it's a different matter. A chai works with milk extremely well. It must be all the spices, which need to take the hot edge off.
Spiced Apple Chai from Adagio is a black tea with cinnamon bark, ginger root, cardamom pods, orange peels, cloves, natural apple flavour and apple pieces. Open a packet, and wow, the warm aroma of spices tickles your nose. The smell of Masala spice blend is fruity and rich. When you look at it, you see chunks of dried apples and whole cloves (not ground).
Chai itself is sweet and strong, and in my opinion benefits from a teaspoon of honey and a dash of milk. If you steep it longer, cloves become more pronounced, and it's the first flavour that comes through when you drink it. Personally, I would like less of clove flavour and more of the other spices. I wonder if adding ground clove rather than whole would make a difference?
There are 75 days till Christmas, but it's never too early to start thinking about presents, food and drinks. Christmas tea is definitely a fine gift for any tea lover, and not just for Christmas. This festive blend of black tea, Assam melody tea, cinnamon bark, natural chai flavour, cardamom pods, cloves and natural cinnamon is luscious. I challenge you not to sing "Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la...", when you open the packet and smell all those seasonal scents.
When brewing tea in my little teapot, I have left only one clove inside, as I prefer just a hint of clove. It reminded me of mulled wine, and I suppose that was the idea. Think oranges studded with cloves, mittens and carols...
To see a full range of Adagio teas, visit Adagio.
Lovely Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has recently reviewed some other varieties of Adagio teas, which I haven't tried. Read her review and enter a giveaway to win a porcelain cup with infuser at There's Nothing Like a Good Cup of Tea.