Avaata Supreme Nilgiri Green Tea

Perhaps it was kismet that I made a last-minute decision to take the day off– otherwise, I would have missed signing for this charming package from Golden Tips Tea! It’s not every day that you receive a package in the mail from India. Especially one wrapped in cloth and sealed with wax.

golden tips packageThe selection of samples I received from Golden Tips Tea are mostly black teas, which I expected because India is known for its black teas, especially from the Darjeeling and Assam regions. So, perhaps it’s a bit odd that the first tea I’m writing about is a green tea– Avaata Supreme Nilgiri Green Tea— from the Avaata estate in the Nilgiri region in southern India.

Upon opening the golden package of Avaata Supreme Nilgiri green tea, I am greeted with a vegetal scent– slightly grassy and a bit like hay, which makes me feel nostalgic for springtime weather and drives in Michigan’s countryside. The tea leaves were big and full and a beautiful spring green color with the occasional silver bud, and the liquid was a very pale yellow-green color similar to white grape juice. The taste was very light, but it seemed to stand out a little more once the tea had the opportunity to cool down. This is a stark contrast to the black teas and the flavored teas I’ve been drinking lately, so I welcomed the experience. Like the scent of the leaves, the taste of the tea was lightly grassy and minerally. But while other reviews described a floral aftertaste, the flavor seemed to end abruptly to me, nothing seemed to linger, and I did not pick up on any afternotes. Clean is the only way for me to convey this particular tea tasting experience.

Overall, I’m please and perplexed that a tea could be so light. Black coffee. Breakfast Tea. Earl Grey. Those are the bold flavors that fill my mugs each morning, yet I find myself returning to Golden Tips Tea’s Avaata Supreme Nilgiri time and time again.

Won’t You Be My Valentine Tea?

Some say Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday– a consumerist holiday to lure starry-eyed suckers into buying over-priced chocolates to prove their love. And to them I say, “if you’re not going to eat those, may I have them?” I shant complain about February 14, and if my boyfriend chooses to love me one extra ounce today, I shall relish in it. Especially since Adagio Tea’s Valentine Tea broke my heart.

Adagio’s Valentine Tea is a blend of black tea, rose petals, natural chocolate flavor, and natural strawberry flavor

I think my tea is an older blend, because the Adagio website says there is also cocoa nibs, dark chocolate chips, and strawberries in this tea, and I have none of that. Woe!

Anyway, Adagio’s Valentine Tea sounds romantic, right? It’s the sort of thing a lover would sprinkle on the floor from the doorway to the couch…for a Harry Potter marathon. Except, any tea lover would get distracted and scoop of the tea leaves and rose petals to brew a mug of hot tea. Most regrettably, Valentine’s Tea would ruin the mood. It smells weird– like a bag of chocolate hard candies. Fake chocolate hard candies. Do you know what is worse than fake chocolate? War, famine, petulance, and generally the end of the world, but not much else! Despite the scent, I still went into this feeling optimistic. I was crossing my fingers that Valentine’s Tea would taste like a chocolate-covered Turkish Delight because I can pound chocolate-covered Turkish Delights (Jon, make note!)

After steeping the tea, I noticed how dark the liquid was. It was as dark as a cup of black coffee, so I became a little nervous. I suspected the flavor would pack a punch, but really it was just a slap of disappointment in the face. It tasted nothing like a chocolate-covered Turkish Delight. Adagio has some great teas, like their Oooh, Darjeeling, but I am not having luck with their flavored teas– Chestnut Tea being the wonderful exception. Most of their flavored teas that I’ve tried recently flood my mouth with bitterness. The aftertaste is alright though…if you’re not offended by fake chocolate hard candies. As for the rose, I was hoping for some light floral notes, but if they are there, they are muddled by the stronger chocolate flavor and the strong, black tea. I even tried to sweeten the deal by adding sugar and milk. I thought that would cut some of the bitterness or mask some of the flavoring, but that just made it worse.

Even though I do not love Adagio’s Valentine’s Tea, a lot of people do. It’s earned a score of 93/100 on Adagio’s website and a 70/100 on Steepster. Proceed with caution with Valentine’s Tea.

Teaview: This is What Christmas Tastes Like?

I’m feeling fairly removed from the holidays this season. I haven’t done much shopping, I haven’t listened to Christmas tunes, I haven’t watched any of my Christmas-time faves, and to top it off, it seems like we’re going to have more of a muddy Christmas than a white Christmas this year. So, in an effort to get myself in to the Christmas spirit, I decided to try Adagio’s Christmas Tea. Unfortunately it left me saying, “Bah, Humbug!” instead of a jolly “Ho! Ho! Ho!” This is not to say the tea is awful, but it certainly isn’t my cup of tea.

Adagio’s Christmas Tea is a blend of black tea, cinnamon bark, orange peels, natural spice flavor, cardamom, cloves, ginger root, natural ginger flavor, and natural cinnamon flavor.

In theory, this should be good, but when I open the bag of tea, I am greeted with that weird, stale cinnamon potpourri scent that wafts through the aisles of craft stores. Luckily, the flavor (read: aroma) is not that bad. I find it to be reminiscent or perhaps inspired by mulled wine, which I find is a taste I have not acquired; I’ve never met a red wine that I like. Black tea is significantly more palatable though, so really it’s the blend of citrus and spice that I do not care for in this tea. Perhaps if you’re a fan of mulled wine, your opinion may differ.

I’ve also struggled to find a good balance of flavor with this tea, so every cup I’ve made is either strong and spicy or weak and watery– nothing that a spot of sugar or can’t mend though. I will probably work my way through the rest of the bag, but I don’t see myself buying more of this tea in the future.

What beverage do you like to sip on to get you in the holiday spirits? Hot cocoa? Warm cider? Mulled wine, perhaps?

Teaview: Cranberry Tea– a new Thanksgiving staple?

Why is the cranberry a staple of Thanksgiving dinners? It’s so tart, and how can it even compare to the rest of the savory dishes that fill the table? It is a traditional side dish though, and when it comes to Thanksgiving, I cannot forego tradition. Sometimes it just requires a creative twist. Like this year, I drank Cranberry Ginger Ale  during dinner! And this morning, I woke up to Cranberry Tea from Adagio.

The ingredients in this tea are black tea, raspberry leaves, natural cranberry flavor, and cranberries (though, I’ve not seen the bog berry in my canister of tea).

I’m not the biggest fan of Adagio’s Cranberry tea, yet I keep defaulting to it. One reason is because it’s the only tea sitting on my counter, so it’s easily accessible. The other reason is because I’m trying to acquire a taste for it…perhaps because it’s the only tea canister within reach. This tea is dry and tart like a cranberry, and it actually leaves me feeling thirsty, which I find unpleasant. As for flavor, I taste more raspberry hardcandy than cranberry. Much like the lone cranberry though, Adagio’s Cranberry tea is definitely more palatable when I add sugar; however, the fruit flavor seems to disappear, which is alright in my opinion because I don’t much care for cranberries.

Overall, I don’t like drinking this tea unsweetened, but I can certainly guzzle this tea with sugar added. If I can’t taste the fruity flavor though, why not just drink a plain black tea instead?  Sorry Cranberry Tea– you won’t be a Thanksgiving staple in my house.

Teaview: I’m not nuts about Almond Tea

On occasion, I get a hankering for the flavor of amaretto or raw almonds. I blame it on my sister-in-law, who fixed me my first amaretto sour, when I went to visit she and my brother in the very flat lands of North Dakota (to this day, one of my favorite vacations…EVER). I’ve been obsessed with the flavor ever since; gobbling down raw almonds is a luxury I rarely afford myself, but I do appreciate adding amaretto-flavored creamer to my weekend coffee. Naturally my interest was piqued when I discovered Adagio sold an Almond Black Tea. Finally! An opportunity to marry two of my foodie obsessions.

But, this is where the excitement ends with Adagio’s Almond Tea.

My experience with Adagio’s flavored black teas have been for the most part positive. I could practically bury my face in a pouch of Adagio’s Chestnut tea, remember? The same could not be said for the Almond Black tea. First sniff was alright, and I definitely smelled the sweet, raw almond scent I hoped for. But, with each intake of breath after, it got worse. After a while, the Almond Tea started to have the bitter or sour scent, which was obviously unpleasant. It was so off-putting that I almost ditched the bag because I was certain this would affect the taste.

Flavor-wise, the Almond Tea wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. When sipped at a temperature slightly less than piping hot, all I picked up was the flavor of the black tea. Not until the tea cooled down did the almond flavor seem to stand out. Then, instead of tasting the sweet, cherry-like flavor of raw almonds, I tasted the nutty flavor of roasted almonds– a flavor I can tolerate, but ultimately don’t enjoy.

Bottom Line, I’m a big fan of Adagio tea (and their prices), but I did not enjoy their Almond tea. Honestly, the tea did not taste bad; if you’re a fan of roasted almonds, then you may enjoy this tea. However, I don’t like that flavor and don’t really want to sip on a tea with a flavor I consider merely “tolerable”. I’ll probably put off drinking the rest of the Almond Tea until I’m desperate for a caffeine fix. Luckily, I only purchased their sample (makes ten cups) for a whopping $2.

Teaview: What do you mean you’re not black tea?

Every so often I’ll dive into a cuppa tea without reading into what I’m drinking, and I’ll make some pretty rash assumptions. This happened recently when I was brewing myself a cup of Adagio’s Ooooh Darjeeling. (Did I type all the “O”s?) During my first few brews of Ooooh Darjeeling, I thought to myself “Wow, this is a really nice black tea”. It wasn’t until I read the back of the bag that I realized it was actually oolong tea and not black tea.

A foolish mistake, and yet an easy one to make since Darjeeling tea is usually sold/marketed as black tea. Sometimes I’m such a noob when it comes to tea.

The ingredients? Well…Oolong tea, of course.

The scent of the leaves is delicate to me– slightly sweet and earthy, but I didn’t really taste either of these once brewed. Ooooh Darjeeling is unlike any oolong tea I’ve had. It doesn’t have that earthy aroma like most oolong teas I have tried. Instead, it tasted more like a black tea but not as strong and without much of the astringency (hence why I jumped to the conclusion that this was a black tea). Ooooh Darjeeling had a subtle floral aroma that I found to be delightful. I think there was supposed to be some fruity aromas as well, but I did not pick up on those.

This tea tastes great both unsweetened and sweet. While I haven’t tried it, I think Ooooh Darjeeling would make a nice iced tea if rock sugar were added (or whatever your sweetener of choice is).

Bottom Line, I really enjoyed this tea! It’s not a breakfast brew for me since I prefer bolder tastes in the morning. But, it’s the perfect cup to enjoy while reading books on a sunny afternoon.

On a side note, Adagio notes that this tea is from China; however “Darjeeling” denotes a type of tea from the Darjeeling region in India. Quit playing mind games with me, Adagio!

Teaview: This Tea Actually Made Me Wish for Snow

I received a bunch of different types of tea for Christmas, yet the lonely, sample tea bag of Adagio’s Chestnut Tea was the one that piqued my interest the most. I should preface this by saying I’ve never had a chestnut, so I can’t say “OMG, this totally tastes like chestnuts” or “Wow, Adagio. This tastes nothing like chestnuts”. I also have to say that I was hesitant to try this simply because it said “chestnut” on the front. I typically don’t enjoy nuts (unless it’s a pistachio). And, chestnuts especially seemed to be about as appealing as a store-bought fruitcake at Christmas. But, I was pleasantly surprised by this tea.

The ingredients are simple: black tea, sunflower petals, and natural chestnut flavor.

One of my favorite things to do before trying out new tea is to breathe in the aroma of the tea. It kind of gives me an idea of what I’m getting in to. When I opened the package, I didn’t even have to bring the leaves to my nose to get a good whiff. The aroma was strong, but not in an unappealing way. It was like walking into a kitchen when someone is baking cookies.

I was surprised how little of the black tea I could smell though. All I could notice was the chestnut flavoring. This tea had the most buttery and sugary and nutty aroma. These were the things that popped into my head: burnt sugar. Creme Brule. Multi-grain pancakes from Anna’s, a local restaurant. Smothered in butter and warm syrup of course. Notice how none of those say “chestnut”?
Right.

Only after I brewed the tea did I really notice the black tea. It was full-bodied, but it wasn’t overpowering. The buttery and nuttiness only showed up as a delightful aftertaste. I drank my tea without sugar or milk. It really doesn’t need it. But, I bet a dash of milk and sugar would turn Adagio’s Chestnut Tea into a nice dessert tea.

Bottom Line, I really enjoyed this tea. It left me feeling cozy and wishing for a snowy afternoon. There was one downfall though. I only received a sample of this type of tea, and I can’t stop thinking of it!