• 21Mar

    For Valentine’s Day, my husband bought me a set of small sample tins from Adagio Teas. Among them was one of AT’s newest oolong leaf tea, Ali Shan:

    Oolong tea from Taiwan. Formosa, meaning ‘beautiful’ was what the Portuguese explorers called this island. The oolong tea grown here continues to be called as such. The exquisite bouquet of Formosa Oolong tea is regarded to be the finest in the world. Complex floral notes echo on your palate as you enjoy this product of Taiwan’s Ali mountain. Light bodied and softly sweet with an underlying complexity, this oolong will surely come to haunt. Perfect for multiple infusions.

    Who could resist such a description? Besides, I’d just finished a day-long horseback ride through winding hills the previous day. Today’s grey morning seemed to call for a pick-me-up tea that would extend my I’m-on-vacation-experiencing-new-things feeling, so I decided to finally try this.

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    Adagio’s preparation directions for this tea recommend steeping in water that’s been brought to 212 degrees (a full rolling boil) for five minutes. I used two teaspoons for my 2.5 cup teapot and followed the recommendations.

    Actually, I may have over-steeped it a bit since I was distracted for a moment, but apparently this tea can take it. The result was a cup with a glowing golden color, a medium-bodied feel and smooth taste despite the long steep time. I detected no real bitterness, though there was something that was either smokey or woodsy to me; maybe “earthy” is the way to describe it. Either way, it was a very subtle note.

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    In fact, it reminded me a lot of a green tea. Now that I think about it, this is the second time that I’ve described an oolong tea as reminding me of a green tea. I’m going to have to figure out why that is.

    This was an altogether lovely tea, and I can’t wait to try a second steeping to see how it fares.

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  • 23Jan

    I’m in love.

    One of my favorite online tea stores (fantastic service, great community and cool tea ware – though can be a bit pricey), adagio teas, has put together a section of the site that allows customers to make unique blends for thier online tea store . (As an aside – adagio teas seems to understand how to use social media for it’s business model, with Twitter-delivered coupons and updates, video tea reviews and a vibrant online tea community.) With over 3700 blends, there’s not only a lot to choose from, but ample evidence that tea lovers like to experiment with flavor.

    But what really won over my geeky little heart was the set of twenty-six Signature Blends by Austin Browncoats, (a fan organization turned 501(c)(3) non-profit fundraiser organization for charities.)

    How can I possibly resist Serenitea: Kaylee:

    “Goin’ on a year now I ain’t had nothin’ twixt my nethers weren’t run on batteries!” Well, don’t you worry any longer about twixed nethers, because this tea is sheer happiness in a cup. A perfect combination for our favorite ship’s mechanic: a red vanilla tea with lots of wild strawberries. This is a “glass half full” kind of dessert tea, and we think Kaylee would call it “shiny!” (rooibos vanilla, wild strawberry)

    Or Serenitea: River:

    “You take care of me, Simon. You’ve always taken care of me. My turn.” Once River was able to make sense of the memories that weren’t hers to carry, she was able to see things with some well deserved clarity. And kick a whole lot of reaver butt! While we hope the fruity oaty bar jingle will no longer cause her to go all kick crazy on innocent bystanders, we have a feeling this brilliantly complex character is still a might unpredictable. This blend melds together black teas from different regions, allowing a deep, smoky background which is fused with the sweet, sultriness of caramel and the delightful unexpected addition of almonds. Dark, sweet and just a tad bit nutty, just like River. (ceylon sonata, peach, apple)

    or even Serenitea: Jayne:

    ‘Sure would be nice to have some grenades right now!’ Ok, so maybe not grenades, but how about a bold tea, strong enough for the Hero of Canton? This tea is mostly Assam which gives the cup a nice reddish tinge (and as River notes ‘he looks better in red’). Throw in a bit of chestnut and the smoky, tobacco taste of lapsang souchong and we think we have Jayne figured out: always in a bit of trouble, kinda crazy and definitely an acquired taste. (assam melody, chestnut, lapsang souchong)

    Shiny.

    The blends seem to be thoughtful combinations that would be a delightful tour through the many varieties of tea even without the wonderfully quirky Firefly theme. I’m hoping adagio teas decides to go with my suggestion to offer 1 oz sizes of the custom blends, since I’d love to try this whole set, as well as many others by fellow tea lovers, albeit in smaller “taste-test” amounts.

    P.S. You can check out the Austin Browncoat’s web site here.

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