251 Tasting Notes


Disclaimer: this Adagio Signature Blend is a customer’s, Cheryl Yi, attempt to recreate the Mad Tea Party Blend of Disney fame.
It’s close…very close, but not the same. I fixed a cup of the original and the Adagio Blend side by side for this comparison. Dry, the original smells STRongly of apricots, the custom one has a definite peach smell. Note that the original is ground fine and in a tea bag, the custom one is loose leaf. I think this is important. I ran a stopwatch on the brews…90 seconds on the original, 105 on the custom. I let the custom go longer because it was not brewing as dark as the original…note that the custom recommends 3 minutes. I cut it off because the original was done and ready at 90 seconds.
While hot, there was no confusing the original from the custom. The nose of the original was very strong apricots and flowers, sweet and fruity. The copy was peaches and a little muted at that. As they cooled, the original seemed to go a little off, a little chemical? The custom blend kept its peachy smell and peaches and creme flavor pretty consistent.
So – jury’s still out. More loose loose leaf to make up for the fine grind? Longer steeping times? Yes to both, probably. In any case, this one gets kept and tried again, until I get to the end: then stop.

Flavors: Cream, Peach, Vanilla

Boiling 1 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Earl Grey by Tazo
251 tasting notes

Tazo is the institutional tea of my office, so we burn through this stuff at an unbelievable rate. The upside is that it’s about a fresh as your going to ever see this brand, and it still has a “tired, musty” taste. Another upside is that it’s better than the plain black tea version!
I won’t go spend MY money on this, but I’ll drink it as a last resort because it’s better than the charcoal w/ lighter fluid espresso that the $7000 automated coffee machine makes.

Flavors: Bergamot, Paper

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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Had this tonight, from a tea bag. Wow. Sweet flavor without adding any sugar/honey. Tastes of peaches on a very good black tea base. Now if I just didn’t have to go to a theme park to get it.

Flavors: Apricot, Peach

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

Seems like I saw somewhere (maybe in another Steepster review) that the Disney teas are privately labeled versions from a different supplier. Or I coulda dreamed that.


I found a custom Adagio custom blend, (all hail the Google) http://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=60757
,that gets good reviews, albeit from only 5 reviewers. Looking at the ingredient list, I think there are few things in there that are superfluous (marigold and cornflowers), but the fruit flavors “look” right. I’ve ordered some and will report back.


The Adagio order came in. Very close, but not the same….

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If I’m brutally honest…I find this tea to be harsh and coarse. There is nothing subtle about it; no nuances to its flavor other than a slight metallic tang that might signal some Ceylon tea in there, somewhere. Looking at the tea in the teabag, this one is designed to infuse hard and fast…the “leaves” are more a dust than broken leaf bits; and the ingredient list? “black tea, black tea extract”. I think the latter is code for the caffeine in the “50% more caffeine” claim. From a tea lover’s point of view, I can’t recommend this one. However! if you’re looking for a way to get your caffeine fix in the morning and coffee isn’t your choice, this will do the trick.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I am not a big fan of Assam and only so-so for Keemun. I normally find them harsh and a bit bitter. Keeping that in mind, I cut the steeping time to about 2 minutes…the time it takes me to fill my cup with hot water and amble back to my desk at work. The full name of this tea is “Malachi McCormick’s Decent Tea” and it lives up to its name. Brewed to a red/black deep in the mug, this tea is robust, with a woody flavor; as expected, it does not have the tannic, citrus notes of a Ceylon. It still has the body of an Assam, but it is being mellowed, significantly, by the Keemun. I am drinking this as a wake-up, early morning tea and it is serving its purpose well.
1/18 – revisiting this review as it has been nearly 3 months (so says Steepster) and, more importantly, 2/3’rds of my can of this tea is gone. Looking back on my initial impressions, I wouldn’t change anything. In fact, I’m going to bump my rating by a few points. This tea sits on my desk at work and is my default morning “at work” tea. That is not to say that it is every day, I have other choices, just that it is currently the default when nothing else strikes my fancy.

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Amba Thieves by Harney & Sons
251 tasting notes

“Thieves Tea”…yep, looks like they swept it up off of the trading floor, seriously. There are what look to be broken bits of leaves, stems, and maybe a bit of bark. Looking closer, I see bits of leaves from green to brown to predominately black.
That aside, its a great cup of tea. It’s very generic and I don’t pick up a clear Ceylon or India regional flavor. I brewed my first cup conservatively, as reflected below, but I suspect that this tea can take a lot of abuse, because of its generic flavor.

Flavors: Tea

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I am sure I’ve reviewed this tea before, but I tried something different this time. Long story short, our Keurig died after a long (5+years) life and my wife rushed out to replace it that evening (coffee addict that she is). I picked up one of the Keurig brand brewing baskets (that thing you use for your own coffee or loose tea) and a Keurig brand, 32oz carafe. I filled the basket with probably 2 tblspoons of HCS tea…about 2/3 full, and made a full pot of tea through the Keurig. OMG! way to much tea! I ended up with the most intense cinnamon tea you’ve ever seen, so cloudy with cinnamon. So sweet that you almost (almost!) couldn’t drink it. Liquid Red-Hots candies. I cut it 50% with plain water and drank the whole pot.
What?! I didn’t say it was bad, just liquid candy :)
Lessons learned: the Kuerig worked well, the carafe kept it hot all morning, HCS is still fantastic, start smaller with the experiments!

Flavors: Cinnamon

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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This listed on the package as a “double bergamot…very robust” tea and it doesn’t lie. I can usually get two steepings out of a portion of these leaves, it is strong enough and “in your face” with the bergamot that a quick first cup brew will leave you satisfied and enough left in the leaves for a second brew that is just as good, if a little less “in your face” about it.
Otherwise it’s based on a good, if not remarkable, base tea.

Flavors: Bergamot

Boiling 1 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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This tea has a toasty, fired flavor to it. Almost burnt if you let it steep too long. Not smokey though. More of a cocoa than dark chocolate flavor, has an edge that is nicely smoothed by a bit of honey.

Flavors: Cocoa, Roasted, Tannic, Toasty, Wood

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I’ve been trying to save this tea – save it from the trash can. I think I’m going to fail. The flavoring of this tea is so off that I can’t come up with a good explanation. Think citrus oil and turpentine…something is horribly wrong. I’ve had this tea for several months and knew it was a problem from opening the can the first time. The wave of chemical smell was intense. I tried it anyway and got chemical taste. I have let it sit, open to the air, for two months now, All I can say is “at least my desk area doesn’t smell like solvents any more”. I’ve just shaken the can, moved the satchets around…its still there.
Pass on this one.
Edit: went back in history and found an old review of English Earl Grey (Blue Knight Special) by TeaFountain that I did a few years ago. This one reminded me of the Blue Knight Special.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I remember when I discovered that there was more to tea than hot or iced. I was given a loose tea sampler (M.T.W.) and a stainless steel tea ball as a Christmas gift many years ago. That was the start of what will be a life-long love of fine tea. I discovered Steepster from a blog entry on the Mark. T. Wendell website…and have, from Steepster, discovered even more fine teas and vendors. I decided to post my thoughts in the hope that others discover a good, fine tea.


Austin, Texas

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