I love tea. You probably noticed. But, if I'm honest, after having drank so much of it it's sort of all starting to taste the same. Probably because I drink mostly Twinings and, while I love it, when you're dancing between cranberry, orange & lotus blossom and apple & pear, it all boils down to the same thing. Pun not intended.
So I've been turning my attention towards loose tea instead. Loose tea typically means more variety, noticable differences, because the teas are more specific and focused on the leaves rather than the flavour of dried fruits and flowers. That's not to say that loose teas don't have these kinds of qualities, but when they do even they're more decadent.
Teabags don't necessarily make a grand difference, but the brew is certainly hindered by that simple barrier. You'll notice it when you compare a bagged sencha to a loose one. Of course they're also far more convenient, easier to store, easier to brew without having to think about strainers, measurements and the like. Teabags are where tea drinkers start.
So, it's not surprising that loose teas are more impressive in taste and aesthetics, and, of course, their prices reflect it in a number of cases, but believe me when I say it's worth it.
Green teas are my absolute favourite, they always taste and smell so clean and they make me feel it, too, so it's not surprising that my shelves are stocked mostly with greens. Genmai cha is easily the best. I used to love jasmine but I've drank far too much of it - now it's all about the rice. Sencha leaves with roasted rice, and a wonderfully toasted, nutty taste and scent. It's simply the best.
Adagio Tea is where my attention has turned recently for their massive range of loose green teas - including genmai cha, of course - and I absolutely love them. They're perfect for when you know what you want, and when you don't. They stock full packs of single loose teas as well as smaller collection packs. Not surprisingly, the Samurai collection is my favourite, in part for the name and also because of the inclusion of genmai cha. But kukicha is also included, and while the taste is far, far subtler, it has a wonderfully grassy scent. It might sound uninviting, but it's absolutely gorgeous.
The massive variety of loose teas available is wonderful, and something you only really come to appreciate when you drink as much of it as me. The different looks, the smells, the tastes. I'm not a fan of fruit tea. I used to be, but I forced it. It always smelled and looked wonderful, especially bright red strawberry tea, but they always tasted the same, and it was never a good taste, either.
Camomile is known to be a good tea for relaxation, but green teas do it for me if just because I love the varying smells of the different blends. A nice, deep inhale and I'm calm. For a moment, at least, and then Seeg gets killed in Destiny and starts shouting, but then I just inhale again.
And on that note of nerdiness, which you may not think is relevant, I can segue easily into another aspect of tea blends for which Adagio is unique: fan blends.
You've heard of fan art, of course, but fan blends? Yes, Adagio has them. Created by people with a really keen taste for tea, in a number of manners, teas have been blended to reflect characters and elements of a number of popular television shows and films. Harry Potter's polyjuice, an ode to Doctor Who's River Song, the sweetness The Town's Steve Carlsberg is missing - but the ones that jumped out at me were Sherlock (BBC's modern adaptation) and Firefly.
See the relevance? Destiny - Cayde-6 - Nathan Fillion - Malcom Reynolds - Firefly. Smooth.
I decided, while bagging the Samurai collection, that I would have a go at Sherlock and Firefly. Unsurprisingly, Sherlock Holmes sounded the most interesting of all the Sherlock blends - most of the characters were fairly unsurprising in their brews, at least by description, but while a synaesthetic person can easily appreciate that a personality can in fact be summed up in taste, Sherlock himself was one I couldn't wrap my head around. He's completely unique, so I figured his tea might be, too.
As for Firefly, while Inara's blend sounded the most appealing, what with all the spices and chai base, I also decided that it was probably the most predictable. I could taste it just by reading it. But Serenity - the ship, the Firefly, itself - was something else.
So, Sherlock Holmes and an old, luh suh space ship. In tea.
Serenitea is a green tea, unsurprisingly - though appropriately gunpowder - and mint, while Sherlock is actually a black tea, lapsang souchong, with oriental spices, and while the latter is out of my comfort zone, I have to admit that I really love it. Though I've not tried the other fan blends, I think they were both perfect choices.
Sherlock...well, I'd say they nailed him, as far as a personality can go in tea. It does smell a little strange, a mixture of spices and comfort - his eccentricity and yet also reliability, perhaps? You can expect him to react unusually, and, as unreadable as he is, you know where you stand with him. Perhaps. That's what I get from it, at least.
As for Serenitea, the blend was intended to be rough but homely, with green tea to compliment the Chinese superiority of the show and mint for the comforting, calming touch, and I'd say they've done a good job there, too, though I would have thought to smell a little more roughness to it. But I don't really know my way around anything but green tea, so I can't judge too heavily. But it's certainly a pretty blend! The marigolds and safflowers give it a wonderful pop of colour, which also reflects the wonderful oriental touch to the series. Visual isn't supposed to be a part of the blends, necessarily, but, let's be honest, it's a part of the experience.
So, if you're looking for a unique Christmas gift for a tea-drinking TV nerd, head over to Adagio now. Pick up a single-blend pouch or a full collection of smaller tins. You can guarantee that no one else would have bought it for them, and that they would never guess it in a million years.
Though their range of 'ordinary' teas is very broad - white, black, green, fruit, herbal and so on - the simple addition of fan blends sets Adagio apart from other tea blenders. You simply can't find this kind of thing anywhere else, and if you do, the blends simply won't be the same.
I'm going to brew some Serenitea now. Míng tiān jiàn.
Disclaimer: I was sent this product to review by the brand itself. The quantity and precise products sent were their choice, not my own. All opinions and images are my own, and all appropriate research has been done by myself from a range of sources rather than relying entirely on the product's website, especially where health products are concerned. I do not accept a product to review if I do not believe it is safe or worth my own time, regardless of any kind of reimbursement. I trial the products for an appropriate amount of time before writing reviews to check for wear-and-tear on physical items and side effects from edible (be it supplements or food). If I have negative points to voice, I will voice them, and I never, ever accept product reviews or reimbursement on the promise of a positive review. My reviews are and will only ever be honest.