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Recent Tasting Notes
Geek Steep S1E19 – Frankenstein (Novel)
I mentioned just now in my tasting note for BLT’s “Body & Soul” that I explored two different paths with my tea pairing for this novel – this was the first one, and arguably the most obvious choice as well: A Halloween themed tea.
By pure luck, I actually ended up getting my copy of the novel and an order of Halloween themed teas from Adagio on the same day so it was just fortuitous timing. However, since Frankstenstein’s monster is such a PROMINENT part of Halloween culture (despite there being no in novel tie in to Halloween at all) it just seemed like the most fun route with pairing would be to chose a Halloween tea. DT’s Monster Mash was something I considered (and ultimately what Marika chose!) but I kind of wanted something a little “heavier” and “darker” tasting.
I picked this one because it’s primarily Hojicha – something we know I have a soft spot fo. However, it also has roasted mate, black tea, and a very “red hot” cinnamon flavour that comes through super clearly and distinctly in the cup – creating this very roasted/toasty and comforting profile that not only feels like Halloween in a cup but also like an Autumnal hug, but with backbone. It’s also the first Pumpkin Seed blend I’ve ever seen and I just think that’s such a cool concept and I love it way more than all the generic Pumpkin Spice profiles that pop up around October. Yes, this is spiced, but it’s more about the roasted quality of the mix of base teas.
Ironically, if you disregard the fandom blend I included in our “Top Teas of 2020” holiday special, this is the FIRST fan blend from Adagio to be featured on the podcast – and it’s not even a fandom blend in the sense that it’s inspired by a TV show/movie/comic/etc. I just think it’s funny that Adagio is the company probably most well known for their fandom teas and not only did we wait until the penultimate episode of the first season to feature one but we also didn’t really feature one that highlights what they typically represent…
Ultimately I did really like this pairing though, and it feels like the best way to approach Frankenstein using a flavoured tea to me. However, I preferred my other pairing and if I was going to reread the novel I would be more likely to choose something similar to Body & Soul than I would be to repeat this one.
My Geek Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKtj4nagIN7/
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I just added this to my cupboard but to be honest it was a tiny amount of tea to begin with and I have had it before so now there is only about a serving left. I made lattes with whipped cream and sprinkles for my husband and myself tonight and this was super good for that.
My lattes for two are generally made thus: twenty ounces milk and three tablespoons sugar heated and three teaspoons tea added. If the tea blend is full of pieces of dried fruit or chips or something, I will add a little extra or make sure the spoon is heaping. Heat (but not to boiling) and leave it at least six minutes but preferably ten. As long as the milk is good and hot you can turn off the burner for the last bit of steeping.
Strain into two mugs and top with whipped cream. My husband really loves sprinkles so I add those cuz he is a nice guy.
This tea has been here for a while. It was a gift to my daughter and she never got around to trying it, but in spite of its age it had great flavor still and nothing had gone “off.” This is something I would definitely consider repurchasing just for cold weather treats. The tea and the spices both come through nice and strong and really since it has so much flavor I could cut back on the sugar. If the blend is heavy on “pieces” rather than tea leaves and flavoring, it sometimes needs that bit of extra sugar to make it flavorful.
This smells like a melted red hot. But, the cinnamon is much more mild than I would’ve thought. A bit of woodiness. Overall, the flavors are a bit too muted. Pretty average.
It’s my day off and I’ve been drinking a ton of tea. I’ve been working, but in a reduced capacity up until yesterday. We’ve just gone back to regular operations and I’m feeling very ‘meh’ about having to interact with so many people everyday again. I’ve been looking for another job for about 9 months, and it is so insanely difficult. The amount of effort I’ve put in has been exhausting, on top of the confusion and sadness I’m sure everyone is feeling as a result of the pandemic. I’m also taking an HR Management class right now, and had my midterm yesterday (got a 96% woot!), but that’s another layer of stress. So much stress lately, I’m glad I have my tea.
The name and image on the tin still make me laugh. Sadly I don’t think these little Adagio tins maintain flavor very well, because most of the Halloween teas I bought from Adagio last year are really starting to lose their flavor (way more than any other tea I have, and I have some that are significantly older than a year). Kind of a muted/nondescript cinnamon flavor. Like someone swirled a cinnamon broom around in water.
I’ve tried Adagio a couple times over the last 5 years, and finally stopped about a year ago (with the exception of picking up Brigadoon breakfast) because I disliked almost everything I tried. But, I’m on the hunt for tasty fall teas, and I’m a sucker for vintage Halloween imagery…which took me to the collection that this was a part of. I was intrigued by the hojicha/pumpkin flavoring/spice combination, so decided to try 6 custom Halloween blends.
This is the first one I brewed up…and I actually love it! The spice component is pretty minimal, and the focus is more on the roasted squash quality that comes with the hojicha+toasted mate+pumpkin flavoring. The only thing that would have made it perfect is real pumpkin pieces.
Picked this blend of all the chais to compensate for the lack of spice in the Spice Imperial I started off the day with. It is an overwhelming combination of spices, but that’s what I was looking for right now so I’m sipping away happily. At first, the Thai Chai was dominant and I got mostly coconut and lemongrass, but as my cup is cooling the rest of the spices come out more, mainly cardamom and ginger with some cinnamon too. I think I can even detect the chocolate and vanilla right at the end of the sip. Yeah, this is what I wanted. Spice overload.
VE Day 2020
I’m drinking this because of the name more than any desire to actually drink it. It’s not bad, but I always struggle with deciding how to drink this one. Black, the apricot and vanilla come through beautifully and are actually quite delicious in the initial sip, but then the black tea base comes and overpowers them and sits heavy on your tongue. I find that a lot of the adagio blends suffer because of the black tea base they use. Typically, I add milk to temper the heaviness and the astringency of that base, and I did that this morning too. The problem is that the delicate apricot and vanilla don’t really put up much of a fight against the milk, and as soon as a drop is added they fade into the background. With milk, this is a very cloying cream-heavy blend, with just a hint of apricot at the end of the sip. If only the Adagio fandom blends used a higher quality black tea base – or even (gasp) offered more than one base – this could have been really, really nice.
So I’ve wanted to try this for a while now. I kept putting it in Adagio carts but never pulling the trigger.
So finally I have it.
Naturally, I added a couple splenda’s to this. It’s supposed to be butterbeer, after all! Sadly, it tastes almost exactly like the Adagio butterscotch tea. Like, spot on for that other blend. I almost want to brew up both side by side and compare. And it’s weird because the butterscotch tea is just that – butterscotch tea. This one is caramel, cream, and vanilla tea. But then I suppose that’s more or less the flavor profile breakdown of butterscotch, isn’t it?
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is tasty. I almost want to try it as a latte. But for as hyped up as this was in my mind, for it to be this one-note is a bit of a letdown. If I wanted straight butterscotch tea, I’d buy that instead.
The tin is stylish though.
Just an update on this one.
I did end up getting a 3oz bag more of this. It is still one of my go-to dessert teas. I’m drinking it now as a latte and it hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve cut back how often I drink it though. Instead of three to five times a week it’s more like once every other week. I just have so much other tea to drink now. I know I beatdown Adagio on my last review. I just wanted to write this to say, not everything from there is horrible. This is still one of my favorites. It’s simple and sweet. Chocolate and mint. Nothing too fancy, but oh so delish! Anyway, thought I would post this just to try and grant some measure of redemption to Adagio.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Mint, Spearmint
Sipdown Number 6!
Oh am I sad to see this one go. But don’t get me wrong, next month, after payday, there will be more. I’m honestly contemplating the 5oz tin because I just need to drink this every day. Same basic recipe applies, almond milk (unsweetened vanilla) plus two splendas. BOOM! Andes Candy. This is a new favorite thing. I have managed to drink down the entire sample in about a week, and that includes getting at least one resteep per sitting. I think I’m going to have to greatly up the rating on this, even though it needs to be “Latte-ed” to get the full effect. I will make an exception because once made into a sweetened latte, it’s just SO DARN GOOD. Farewell for now, Skele-Gro. We shall meet again soon.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Spearmint
After the Lapsang debacle, I needed something to cleanse my palate. So Skele-grow it is. I bought this because they claimed it tasted like candy. Made western style at 212F for 4 minutes (recommended instructions). First sip was okay. It was definitely minty but more dark chocolate, which I am not so much a fan of. So I tried it with two splendas and a bit of almond milk. Wow! What a difference! It IS like drinking candy. Very sweet minty chocolate candy mind you, which may not be for everyone. But still tastes like an Andes Candy. This may be one of my new favorite dessert teas. It’s very lovely. If you want to try a tea that tastes like mint chocolate candy, go for this one. But just remember you need to add sweetener to it to get the most from this blend.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint
Aria is sweet and spicy and really doesn’t need any sweetening (if you don’t oversteep). I love the warm cinnamon and cardamom flavors accented with the ginger. The coconut, orange and lemon grass help keep this blend from becoming overwhelming, cooling and brightening this tea.
Flavors: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coconut, Ginger, Lemongrass, Orange
Ok, so my first review here is this tea. It’s pretty good, but maybe a little generic on the taste. Nothing really jumps out at me. I feel like I’d finish the cup wherever I was, but would probably need to blend it with something that has a stronger finish to it. It isn’t a bad tea, but may just need more steeping time for me. But then again, I am a neophyte to the tea world, so take my review with a grain of salt….or half a shaker.
Flavors: Berry, Butterscotch, Cinnamon, Clove
The first tea I picked out from the Game of Thrones fandom blend sampler. I figured it’s October now, so legitimately time for chai! This one’s a blend of Green Chai, Ceylon Sonata, and Caramel. I did the usual dithering when thinking about brew time and temperature, since it’s a green/black blend and I never know quite what to do with those. I went for boiling water in the end (there looked to be more black tea than green…), but kept my brew time fairly conservative. I may try it the other way around next time I have a cup, since it came out much more subtle than I expected. The spicing in particular seemed very light; mostly clove with just a hint of cinnamon. The caramel felt like an unusual addition, but it seems to work. It adds a sweet smoothness to the background that would be lacking otherwise, and it didn’t feel particularly out of place despite my reservations. The green tea is fairly innocuous, mostly I can taste the Ceylon Sonata, which is lightly citrussy, but also strangely “flat”.
I felt this was an interesting blend, but I can’t actually decide whether I like it. I don’t dislike it, but it didn’t make much of an impression on me; certainly not in the way I thought it would. It was okay; possibly I need to tweak my preparation to really get the best from it. Based on today’s experience, I’m not sure I can see any of the Starks drinking this one…
This is the last of the teas from the Magic Potions sampler, and is a blend of Adagio’s Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla, and Caramel with (apparently) added apple pieces. I wasn’t expecting a lot, for some reason, but I was actually pretty impressed with this one. It has a nice, soft pumpkin spice flavour – although more spice than pumpkin, as is usually the way. The clove and cinnamon dominate, but in a pleasing way – they’re not jarring or out of place. The vanilla and caramel help, I think – they’re very smooth and creamy, and they help to give the overall profile a bit of a lift. They certainly add a sweetness that would otherwise be lacking. I can’t taste much in the way of apple, but that’s a pretty minor complaint.
I like this one. It makes for a really enjoyable autumnal cup, and is a nice twist on plain pumpkin spice. I have a feeling it would make a decent latte, but at the moment I’m happy with it just as it is!
Another from the Magic Potions sampler, and another confusing name. Draught of Peace, to me, would absolutely have to be a caffeine free blend – probably something with valerian, or chamomile at least. This one’s on a black base, which is never going to put me into a deep – or irreversible – sleep…or any kind of sleep at all, if we’re honest. I like the flavour idea – apricot, cream, vanilla – but surely there’s a more appropriate name to be found somewhere in the HP universe?
I’m drinking today’s cup hot, although I think this would potentially be excellent either iced or cold brewed – something to try when I finally get around to sipping down some of these challenge teas, rather than accumulating!
I tried Adagio’s Cream ages ago, and didn’t much like it – I found it too cloying and heavy for my tastes. In a blend with other flavours, though, it’s pretty magical. This one is rich, and super-desserty, and I wouldn’t necessarily want a huge cup. The combination of cream and vanilla is very sweet and decadent, with a definite dairy quality. It reminds me a little of melted ice cream, although obviously without the texture/temperature differential. The “apricot” is a little more muted than I expected, although what’s there tastes more to me like peach. Either way, it makes for a nice stone-fruity pairing with the other flavours, although I wish it were more prominent. My one complaint is that it doesn’t add much in the way of contrast – all of the flavours here are sweet, and together they’re almost OTT.
As with many of the flavoured black blends from Adagio, the base tea here becomes a little bitter/astringent, even with a relatively short steep time. It’s more noticable to me when it’s piping hot, but it seems to settle down a bit as it starts to cool. I’m wondering whether milk would help here, or whether it would drown the apricot/peach completely – something else to try, I guess!
I like this one, although the mismatched name irritates me. Surely someone creating fandom teas – which likely arises from a passion for the thing itself – would have more concern for something like that? Why bother, otherwise? Setting that aside, though, this is a decent flavoured tea and one I’ll doubtless return to for future experiments.
This is one of the Magic Potions blends that might actually live up to its name, although what I can’t work out is whether that was intended. This one’s a blend of three Adagio chai – Thai Chai, Rooibos Vanilla Chai, and Chocolate Chai. It seems an odd mix, but then Polyjuice is an odd potion – it’s supposed to be complicated…and potentially disgusting.
In practice, it’s not great…but it’s not quite as bad as I thought it might be. There’s too much of some things – cardamon and cinnamon chief among them – but I suppose that’s to be expected since they’re likely common to all three chai blends. I can taste chocolate, but it’s muted and fairly watery, a decent quantity of vanilla, and a touch of coconut. It’s kind of bounty-ish, but with a background of chai spice. I suppose that means I can taste something from each of the individual blends, but I can’t say that it’s a particularly successful combination. It’s not bad, as such, but each time I take a sip I’m struck by the fact that I’m drinking three different things and not one coherent whole. It doesn’t hang together very convincingly.
One consequence of this blending that’s more disappointing is that none of the ingredients are there in enough quantity to make any real impact, so although there are flavours I recognise, they’re all a bit weak and muddled. The exception here is the spices, which are too heavy handed – I expect that’s largely because they’re there in the most significant quantity, having come from three separate blends which have each contributed some of the same things, along with their something different – with the result that the ingredients in common have become dominant at the expense of the more unique flavours.
I feel like I’m not making sense, but perhaps that in itself a fitting tribute to this blend. It’s an odd duck – not unpleasant by any means, but confused for sure.