Adagio is one of the few tea companies I’ve come back to again and again when ordering tea online. They get e-commerce – every aspect of it. The store is cleanly designed and easy to navigate. Each tea has clear pictures of the tea blend (and not just the packaging, which, let’s face it, is the least important aspect of a tea, but the only one most companies show you). Each has dozens, if not hundreds, of reviews from previous customers, as well as an overall rating from 1 to 5 (most hover between 3.5 and 4.7, so the range is a bit compressed). And best of all, they sell cheap little 10-serving tin-samplers for about $2 or $3 (a rare few cost $5) so you can sample any tea that strikes your fancy without breaking the pocketbook.
Orders above $50 ship for free – though in my experience they tack on a $2 “rural surcharge” for certain areas (ahem, mine). That’s not a big deal though. And perhaps best of all, they have an automatic customer appreciation program, where you earn a “point” for every dollar spent. Once you accumulate 100 or more points, you get a digital gift certificate for your next order – 10 points equals one dollar.
Really, I can’t say enough great things about Adagio’s online ordering experience. Retailers big and small could learn a lot from their setup.
The teas themselves are packaged smartly, either in small, attractive tins (my fiancee doesn’t allow me to toss them when they’re empty, she likes them so much) or in large brown bags with an interior metallic coating to seal in freshness. The bags have large “flips” on top so that they keep the tea pretty nicely sealed. I’ve got some green teas that are just about a year old in their original brown bags, and they still brew up, fresh and wonderful.
Adagio’s product is generally top quality. Even if there are flavors I don’t like – and there are several from Adagio – I can tell that the leaves really are of excellent quality. I’ve never had a tea from Adagio that tasted old or stale or weak. There are certain teas that are truly awful (Earl Grey Bravo immediately springs to mind) but there are also some very, very fine fruited blends such as Apricot Green, Citron Green, and Grapefruit. I’ve not yet had a black tea from them that’s really bowled me over, but I’ve only tried a few to date.
The one thing I’ve noticed about Adagio tea, in general, is that it is very, very, VERY easy to get the brew wrong. Most teas fall within the same general range – chuck it in the microwave for three minutes, let it step 2-3, and you’re golden. Adagio’s teas have personalities and requirements all their own. Some teas need a good five minutes of steeping, others become bitter after just 90 seconds or so. They offer brewing recommendations for each of their tea right on the package, but in my experience it takes a bit of tinkering to get the best flavor out of each, according to your own individual taste. So if you order from Adagio and you don’t like your tea right out of the gate, don’t chuck it straight away – try a few more leaves, or a bit less; a bit more steeping time, or a bit less; use water at a full-boil, or use slightly cooler water. Its a precarious balancing act, but in the end the final result is worth it.
And of course, no tea-cabinet is complete without one of Adagio’s brilliant IngenuiTEA thingamabobs. It makes brewing loose tea quick, clean and convenient.
So, I realize this sounds like a total love-fest for Adagio… but I really do love their store. In fact, I just placed another $52 order after having written this post. That’ll give me plenty of new teas to brew and review.
I can’t wait.
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