Review: Adagio Irish Breakfast

Adagio, Assam Tea, Black Tea, Ceylon Tea, Irish Breakfast Tea No Comments »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"This brews far too weak a cup to be properly called Irish Breakfast... not an unpleasant drink, but certainly not a repurchase for me."
Stephen’s Teaview: 5/10
Other Teaviews: David gave it 6/10, Cindy gave it 7/10
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adagio-irish-breakfast.jpgTo my mind, Irish Breakfast tea should be like an espresso – dark, bold and full-bodied. It should have about as much tea-flavor as you can get, all jammed in together to form an earthy and energizing brew.

Adagio’s Irish Breakfast isn’t bad, but it just doesn’t meet my criteria. For starters, its a fairly weak blend. On my first cup I could barely taste the tea at all, so I brewed another with twice the amount of leaves I usually use. The second cup was a bit better but still left much to be desired. The basic essence of the stuff is there, but its just not pronounced enough, and there’s also a slightly woody/papery/pulpy aftertaste which further detracts from the experience. Not to mention the fact that you shouldn’t have to use two heaping tablespoons of tea leaves just to make a decent cuppa!

As Adagio’s tea-rating system goes, this blend seems to be fairly popular – search me, I can’t explain it. They describe it thusly:

“Our new combination of black teas from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Assam (India). As its name implies, Irish Breakfast tea is an ideal accompaniment to a morning meal. It smoothly blends the high notes of a high-grown Ceylon with the malty underscore of a hearty Assam. May be enjoyed plain or with a drop of milk. One of our most popular teas. The perfect afternoon tea.”

Hmmm…. “ideal accompaniment to a morning meal… [and] the perfect afternoon tea?” All I can say is: Meh.

Not a terrible blend, to be fair, but definitely not a repurchase for me.

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Review: Harney & Sons Earl Grey Imperial

Black Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Harney and Sons 1 Comment »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Not Great"This might pass as a somewhat drinkable Irish Breakfast, but as an Earl Grey it fails miserably. "
Stephen’s Teaview: 3/10
Other Teaviews: James gave it 3/10, Vanessa gave it 2/10, Shelly gave it 6/10, Troy gave it 6/10, David gave it 3/10
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harney-sons-earl-grey.jpgAfter my last horrible experience with Harney & Sons tea, you might wonder why I’ve bothered to try another of their blends. Good question! That Organic Peppermint brew is still, to this day, one of the worst teas I’ve ever had the displeasure to taste.

Well, it so happens that my darling wife picked up a canister of Harney & Sons Earl Grey Imperial during her last trip to the UK. She knows I’m a sucker for a good Earl Grey, and well, it came in a pretty tin and all so, why not? I’ll admit to some raised eyebrows when she gave it to me, but I decided to be the good husband and brew it up regardless.

The verdict?

Well, its better than their Organic Peppermint. (Alas, that’s about the only positive thing I can say about it.)

As Earl Greys go, this has perhaps the least amount of bergamot flavor of any tea I’ve ever tasted. The canister smells of bergamot, to be sure, but there’s nary a whisp of it in the final brew. The result is a somewhat smoky, earthy and robust brew which if I didn’t know better, I’d say was a medium-grade Irish Breakfast. Indeed, if it were labeled as Irish Breakfast I’d probably give it a much more favorable rating.

Unfortunately, as an Earl Grey its just not a satisfying cup of tea.

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Review: Adagio Jasmine #12

Adagio, Jasmine Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"A decent jasmine tea, though the underlying oolong leaves are perhaps a bit too bitter for this blend."
Stephen’s Teaview: 6/10
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adagio-jasmine-12.jpgThere’s nothing quite like a good jasmine tea to really calm you down. Its not a tea I drink very often, but there’s always a small stash of it somewhere in my cupboard for those days when you really need to smooth out a rough day.

Adagio’s Jasmine #12 is an oolong jasmine tea. Adagio describes it thusly:

Oolong tea from the Fujian province of China infused with the delicate scent of the night-blooming jasmine flowers. If you enjoy jasmine tea, we urge you to try the sublime taste of its well-made varieties. Our ‘Jasmine Suite no. 12’ is an exotic Dragon Phoenix Pearl tea, comprised of intricate jasmine-infused pearls. Each pearl combines two delicate leaves and an unopened bud. When added to water, the pearls majestically unfurl, releasing their delicate scent and flavor. A spellbinding treat for all senses. While not cheap, this tea is well worth the experience.

(They’re right on one count… it certainly isn’t cheap. A 10-oz tin will set you back $42!)

Overall I enjoyed this blend, but it wasn’t quite jaw-droppingly amazing to the extent that I’d consider purchasing it again. As much as I love oolongs, this one just didn’t seem up to par, and while the jasmine flavoring was excellent, it didn’t compliment the blend as much as I’d have liked. Perhaps a lighter green tea would have been a better match.

Still, one of the better brews from Adagio (and one of the more popular according to their in-house rating system, its got a 4.6 out of 5 rating).

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Review: Stash Earl Grey (Teabags)

Black Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Stash 2 Comments »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A strong, but not too strong, essence of bergamot permeates this brew... a satisfying cuppa, more smooth than crisp."
Stephen’s Teaview: 7/10
Your Reviews: 7/10
2 reader reviews | Add your review »

stash-earl-grey.jpgI ordered a cup of Earl Grey at a café recently that I’d never been to before.  Unfortunately, the tea was too hot to drink straight away so after a few minutes of infusing I unceremoniously chucked the teabag into the trash, threw on a to-go cap and continued on my way.  It wasn’t until I was back in my car that I first tasted the tea and realized I had to know what brand this was.  

Turns out, it was Stash Premium Tea.  It’s a new brand for me and if their Earl Grey is anything to go by, its probably worth checking out.  

As those who have read my previous Earl Grey reviews know, its all about balance.  Too much bergamot, and you’re drinking perfume …œ too little, and you’re left with a relatively uninspiring, slightly smoky brew.  Truth be told, Stash’s Earl Grey is just the teeniest bit over the boundary when it comes to bergamot flavoring, but not so much as to completely ruin the experience.  Overall its quite good, though the brew does seem to acquire a large amount of particulate matter during infusion …œ leading to a slightly less crisp drink than I’d ordinarily prefer.  This was brewed from the teabag version, however, which often includes lower-quality tea shavings and dust.  I see Stash offers the same blend in loose tea so I’ll likely give that a try sometime in the future to see if it brews any cleaner.    

I’ve browsed around on www.stashtea.com and placed a small sampling order for some of their more promising blends, including some loose leaf Earl Grey (and, just for kicks, a sampler size of Earl Grey “Double Bergamot”, which I’m sure will be far too flavored for my tastes, but I just had to give it a try). 

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Review: Adagio Paper Tea Filters

Adagio, Tea Gadgets, Tea Infusers 1 Comment »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I love these filters. If you're still buying prepackaged bags of tea-dust, these inexpensive paper filters will gently ease you into the world of loose leaf teas. "
Stephen’s Teaview: 8/10
Your Reviews: 10/10
1 reader reviews | Add your review »

adagio-tea-filters.jpgI love Adagio’s filters. They’re all paper, long and wide, so that you dip the tea in one end and let the long paper top folder over the cup while it brews. The packaging says this allows the tea much more room to circulate and steep, but for me at least, all the tea leaves bunch together at the bottom, forming a tight little knot that didn’t seem any better-circulated than a regular teabag. Maybe there’s a trick to it – time will tell.

The filter worked fine and left no discernable aftertaste, so I was happy. The only problem I had was the same problem I have with all filters of this ilk. The liquid wicks up to the top of it, so that despite the extra length, anyone who likes a strong brew – i.e. more than 2 minutes – will have to deal with a sopping wet strip of paper at the end of it. In theory, this is an intended “feature” of the bag – you can tell when the steeping is done by seeing how far the liquid has wicked up through the paper. But that assumes every tea you use will require the same amount of steeping, and that’s generally not the case.

Nevertheless, I’m a fan of these filters, if only because they look ideal for larger brews, i.e. iced tea by the half gallon. I could use probably two of these filled with loose tea to brew up a nice batch of iced green tea. Just skewer the top of each bag with a chopstick or similar long, pointy device and it should steep just fine without the bag being completely immersed in water. (That’ll be my next experiment…)

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Thoughts on Adagio

Adagio 5 Comments »

adagio.jpgI know I’ve praised Adagio’s teas in the past, but lately I’m beginning to wonder if I may have been too kind. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Adagio’s e-commerce store (one of the best online stores of any kind, period), and their customer service is fantastic, but lately I’ve been comparing their tea blends to others in my cupboard and finding that I’m just as thrilled with them as I used to be.

On deeper reflection, I think Adagio’s teas are generally more appealing as novelties than they are as reliably, everyday brews. The first taste is generally fun and exciting and a bit new, but I’ve found that hardly any of their blends actually make their way into my regular rotations. Grapefruit Black is an excellent example. I ordered a sample tin, really enjoyed the tart, citrusy flavor the first few times and then ordered an 8oz can. Since that’s arrived I’ve had it maybe 2-3 times, and not once has it been an “ahhhhh” kind of moment.

The same goes for their Strawberry, Passion Fruit and Mango blends. Interesting, yes. Novel, yes. Fun to drink for the first few times. But once that magic of that first “kiss” is over with, you’re left with a tea that is in many ways, rather unremarkable.

That said, there are a couple of rare Adagio blends which I do still find quite appealing. One is Casablanca Twist, which still ranks as one of the best mint tea blends I’ve yet experienced. I’m also a fan of their Jasmine #12, though I drink that much less regularly. (I also love their tea filters, which are surprisingly cheap, work quite well and leave no discernable aftertaste in the final brew). Not a single one of their black teas has become a “regular” for me though, and that’s quite disappointing.

So, for those who have read my earlier glowing reviews of Adagio – I apologize for the mixed signals. Maybe my palette is changing, maybe I’m just insane… but Adagio’s teas don’t fill me with the giddy little thrill they once did.

If, however, you’ve got a favorite Adagio blend that you think may change my mind, please do let me know.!

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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