This blog is going to be quite different to my usual blogs. If you know me well, you’ll know that I’m an avid coffee drinker. I started drinking it out of necessity when working night shifts (caffeine – yes please!!), and I inevitably grew to like it and have consumed too much ever since. But for some reason, I’ve never caught on to drinking tea. I love the idea of it (and even the smell), but every time I’ve tried it, I haven’t been keen. I’ve managed to enjoy peppermint and liquorice tea and some fruity varieties as an alternative to coffee, but there is a whole world of teas out there still waiting for me to discover them. Despite not being much of a tea drinker, I can’t help but notice that all the tea drinkers around me enjoy a warming, comforting, refreshing brew to relax, socialise or revive. No matter what the occasion, tea always seems to be a good idea. So this blog is all about my journey with tea, courtesy of an exciting range of loose leaf teas gifted to me by Adagio Teas. Thanks to them, I went tea-total for December with my speciali-tea advent calendar and a range of festive flavoured teas! (couldn’t resist a couple of puns!!)
About Adagio Teas
Adagio Teas is a family owned company developed around a love for tea and for exploring the exciting varieties available. The family source artisan teas directly from the farmers who cultivate and harvest their products all over the world, from China and Japan, to Sri Lanka and Argentina. Tea and travel go hand in hand and I wish I’d known more about it all when I visited a tea plantation in the Azores a few years ago – I might have appreciated it a bit more! But in the past month, I’ve certainly learned more about tea than I ever imagined possible. There are far more varieties that I was aware of, and a humble cup of tea has many processes behind it that adds to its depth of flavour so it’s not just about where the plant is grown.
Firstly, here is what Adagio has taught me about tea…
- Traditional tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant species
- Different styles of tea are derived through processing and manufacturing of the tea leaf
- There are 5 steps to processing tea – plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing and firing – but not all of these processes are used for all types of tea
- Oxidizing is the most important part of the process, as it defines the category of tea
- There are 5 basic styles of tea – White, Green, Black, Oolong and Pu Erh
- Brewed tea contains far less caffeine per cup than coffee, yet it also contains an amino acid that has a relaxing effect
- Tea naturally contains a high level of antioxidants
My Tea Journey
With the arrival of an exciting package from Adagio, my tea journey began…
As I’ve tried fruit teas before, I started off with the Orchard Herbals Collection. This included Wild Strawberry, Berry Blast, Raspberry Patch and Blood Orange. As herbal teas, these varieties naturally contain no caffeine at all, making them an ideal alternative hot drink to my usual coffee. Out of this selection, Blood Orange was my favourite. It was refreshing and had a rich fruity flavour and intense warm orange colour. I love drinking orange juice in the summer, but I feel like this Blood Orange tea could be a brilliant hot alternative to keep me warm in the winter. Wild Strawberry was a close second favourite. With its ruby red colour and juicy, fruity, summery smell. It was refreshing, light and slightly tart like a fresh strawberry, but with sweet undertones from the added apple, hibiscus and rosehip.
Berry Blast and Raspberry Patch were both deliciously fruity teas too – I reckon they should count as part of your five-a-day! Raspberry Patch gave off the aroma of freshly made jam and started off sweet before ending with more zesty and refreshing notes. I liked it more than expected as it had a natural (and not artificial) raspberry flavour which was lovely. I think it’s ideal for someone with a sweet tooth like me as it was just sweet enough! Meanwhile, Berry Blast is packed with natural berry flavours which are warming and comforting. This lightly spiced tea is ideal for a chilly winter day, warming you up from the inside. It seems like this Orchard Herbals Collection has something for every season of the year.
Next, I moved on to herbal teas from the Herbal Garden Collection. I was already a fan of peppermint and liquorice tea, but apart from that, I haven’t really found any other herbal teas that I’ve actually liked since the deliciously sweet, gentle and refreshing mint one I drank on a burning hot day in Marrakesh. Once again, these varieties are also caffeine free, so, I was excited to try the Herbal Garden Collection which contains Peppermint, Spearmint, Chamomile and Lemongrass. I found the Peppermint tea to be crisp and reviving. Unlike my usual one, this doesn’t contain liquorice – it is pure peppermint. In the past, I’ve found that pure peppermint teas need something else to make the flavour more mellow and less bitter, but not anymore! This one is perfect just as it is and I find it very easy to drink. Despite being a hot drink, somehow Peppermint is cooling and soothing. I find it ideal after dinner to help my food go down.
However, Spearmint is my favourite Adagio Tea so far. I’ve always preferred spearmint flavours to peppermint, but I’ve never come across it in tea form before. Like Peppermint, it is refreshing and cooling, but the Spearmint tea is more soothing and calming. It has a sweeter, clearer flavour and smells like good old spearmint Polos. Unfortunately, I got through my Spearmint tea far too quickly and need to order more as soon as possible. Once my Spearmint ran out, I moved onto Lemongrass. I’ve tried lemongrass tea once before in Bali. Back then, I had lemongrass tea with a piece of fresh ginger in it, which I didn’t expect to like but was pleasantly surprised. Similarly, the Adagio Lemongrass tea has a hint of sweet ginger in it too, taking me back to sunny days in Bali. It smells citrussy, fragrant and uplifting, and now every time I drink it, it reminds me of happy memories in Bali.
The last tea to try in this collection was Chamomile – a tea that is known for its relaxing, calming and healing properties. It is said to soothe the mind, help reduce stress and anxiety, and aid good sleep, so I tried it one evening after a stressful day when I felt like I really needed to relax. The flavour wasn’t quite what I expected. As chamomile is a flower, I was expecting a floral and fragrant taste, but I actually found it to be very mellow, earthy and sweet. I can now see why it is considered to be relaxing, because it certainly helped me to unwind and de-stress after a hectic day.
My next selection box was a range of Chai Teas. I’ve had chai once before – as a coffee of course! I know chai is traditionally a spiced Indian tea, but I managed to find a latte version that introduced me to the delicious spicy flavours of chai. I love spices like cinnamon, anise and nutmeg, so chai was right up my street. The Chai Teas Collection contains Masala Chai, Chocolate Chai, Spiced Apple Chai and Thai Chai. I also had a sample of Honeybush Pumpkin Chai to try too.
The first one I tried was Chocolate Chai. I’m a self-confessed chocoholic, so I was ready to dive straight into this tea. Chocolate and warming spices sounded like the prefect winter evening indulgence – cosiness in a cup. The smell was intoxicating, rich and spicy, and the tea was smooth and cocoa-rich with warming undertones. This chai has Ceylon black tea leaves in it and as a non-tea drinker, I found the black tea flavour quite strong as its something I’m not used to yet. But despite this, I still enjoyed my Chocolate Chai. The others are still on my list to try out very soon. I’m intrigued by the Thai Chai, with its flavour described as creamy coconut and playful floral lemongrass, and I’m also curious about the Honeybush Pumpkin Chai too. Watch this space!
My final range of teas to explore were the Christmas Teas Collection, including festive flavours like Candy Cane, Candy Apple, Gingerbread and Chestnut. Alongside this, I also had Yuletide Toddy and a Tea Advent Calendar which I couldn’t wait to start!
I tried the Candy Apple flavour first. I normally avoid anything Christmas-related until 1st of December, so this seemed like a good start to the month. It had such a mouth-watering scent with a sweet and delicious aroma that was reminiscent of Bonfire Night and Halloween, but I didn’t find the taste quite matched up to that. Once again, this variety was based on a black tea, which unfortunately I found a bit too strong. I tried adding some sugar to sweeten the bitter black tea flavour but it didn’t do the trick for me. I might try some honey next time instead.
Next, I was keen to try the Gingerbread tea – I’m a big fan of gingerbread and love the soft gingerbread you can get from the German Christmas markets! When I brewed this tea, it smelled like Christmas in a cup and the ideal hot drink for a cold night. But sadly, once again, this variety is based on black tea leaves and I think I’ve now come to the conclusion that I’m not big on black tea. To me, it overpowered the gingerbread flavours and I much preferred the aroma to the taste. With the black tea used in a few of the Christmas flavours, I was a bit sceptical about trying the Chestnut tea, but I went for it and was pleasantly surprised. It gave off a caramelised treacle and maple syrup fragrance and had a strong treacle aftertaste too. It tasted sweet and roasted, with a nutty undertone which balanced the black tea just enough for me to enjoy drinking it. Candy Cane is still on my list to try out over the festive period and I’ve saved the Yuletide Toddy for Christmas eve. Adagio have a great recipe to take the Yuletide Toddy up to the next level… think honey, lemon and a drop of bourbon to warm you up on a cold winter’s night!
When December 1st came around, I couldn’t wait to start my Tea Advent Calendar. So far, I’ve discovered a new and exciting tea each day. I’ve sampled my first ever green tea – Green Popcorn – which had a smell that reminded me of corn on the cob roasted on a barbecue, giving the tea a nutty and soothing flavour. Other favourites have included the Fruit Sangria, Wuyi Oolong, Foxtrot and Peach Oolong. It’s been great trying something new every day.
It truly has been an exciting tea discovery tour with Adagio, which isn’t going to end here for me!
Which teas do you think I should try next?