Reviewer’s Note: Product samples discussed here were provided at no cost in exchange for my honest review.
A box of teas arrived on out doorstep some time ago, filled with ten samples of tinned teas sent courtesy of Adagio Teas. Adagio counts among its gamut of gourmet loose tea products, a series of blended, artisan-farmed teas themed after pop culture fandoms. To call that catalog extensive is to profoundly understate the matter; one would be hard-pressed to think of a cult-status series in television, gaming, literature, comics, or film that is not represented. For my part, excited about the prospect of sampling the potable embodiment of some of my favorite licensed properties, I agonized for longer than I care to admit over what selection best represented my interest in all of these areas. In no particular order, here are those selections:
- White Tropics of Cancer (from Adagio’s “Banned Books” series)
- Expecto Patronum (a Harry Potter-themed blend)
- Live Long and Prosper (Star Trek in da holodeck!)
- What a Bunch of A-Holes! (a Guardians of the Galaxy tea)
- Howl’s Moving Castle (I have to think this anime-inspired one is self-explanatory)
- Inappropes (a tea for fans of TV show Archer, and character Pam Poovey in particular)
- The Riddler (na na na na na na na na, Batmaaaan…tea!)
- Sherlock Holmes (yes, the package art is drawn to resemble Mister Cumberbatch, and yes this makes me happy though I’m not sure why)
- Mario Brothers (remember Atari 2600?)
- Winter is Coming (A Game of Thrones-themed tea; a G.o.Tea, if you will)
On opening the tins, I found the loose teas to present impressive sensory appeal long before reaching one’s lips. Each blend revealed amidst the tea leaves a visually attractive distribution of sizeable chunks of dried fruits, herbs, and spices that was even and generous. The aromatics were fresh and reassuring, and unrestrained in a way that made them the fragrance equivalent of the kind of sanguine soul who is incapable of greetings people, even strangers, without a hug.
As for the flavors, I found several blends that I would purchase again and again. Expecto Patronum, as one example, brings together crisp, cooling mint with the creaminess of chocolate. Repping dual suggestions of hot and cold, it tastes like a moonlit forest stroll taken on the first clear Winter’s night after a snowfall, or the first sip of hot chocolate enjoyed upon returning home, before the chill has left your bones. A calming, almost therapeutic sip perfect for rounding out an evening for the way.
Mario Brothers, on the other hand, reps for chocolate (chips) as well, but in a more playful manner bursting with essences of candied cherry and juicy peach that work better than expected. This, because while chocolate and cherry flavors have long been apt bedfellows, I was unsure what to expect of chocolate and peach together. The result is a pleasant one I could revisit nightly as something to enjoy either with, or in place of, dessert.
From the series of teas themed after Batman’s gallery of rogues, I chose the Riddler blend because he is widely regarded as being one of Batman’s cleverest adversaries, and because the flavors combination of lemon verbena, vanilla, and Earl grey green tea were speaking my language from first sip. With two kinds of green tea present as well as Irish Breakfast, it would be easy for this blend to leave behind a powerful aftertaste, however I have to think the vanilla helps to keep things smooth, lending this tea a richness and silken body energized by a fun, lemony sense of whimsy.
My inner Archer fan got a kick out of the creamy, spicy, pumpkin-laced lushness of Pam Poovey-themed Inappropes. The pumpkin notes meet with ginger spiciness that crackles through the comforting-as-pie blend, providing a faintly fiery edge not unlike that which characterizes everyone’s favorite shiro kabocha (Japanese for “white pumpkin,” as in the nickname bestowed upon Pam by the yakuza. Long story.)
As for the Sherlock tea, I drew an immediate parallel between the blend and a certain misanthropic detective. Lapsang Souchong tea being as robust as it is, I had trouble distinguishing the Oriental Spice and Assam components also making up the blend. Like Holmes, this tea’s defining and most affecting characteristic, one that some would call an acquired taste, somewhat overshadows its quieter likeable qualities at first. A person patient enough to seek them, however, will be rewarded for the investment once those attributes emerge.
Other pleasantries experienced with this selection of Adagio Teas included discovering I prefer the coconut-rich White Tropics of Cancer and spearmint-laced watermelon-citrus What A Bunch of A-Holes blends better as iced teas, and how seamlessly lemon, spearmint, and vanilla could come together, as they did in the Live Long and Prosper blend. Tea drinkers who enjoy a twist of pop culture in their cup would do well to make a home of the Adagio Teas website. The flavor combinations, much like the vast array of teas to choose from, is virtually endless.
This article first appeared on FlavorfulWorld.com.