A Taste of the Orchard Tea Sampler

A Taste of the Orchard Tea Sampler

It’s been a rough week (the week I’m writing this rather than the week you’re reading it). My computer died a week ago, the day before my in-laws arrived for a week long visit. If I was going to be without a computer for a week, I guess that was the week for it to happen. The down side was that I didn’t have a chance to work on fixing it until a week later, and the job turned out to be a higher order than anticipated. Usually a dead hard drive is as simple as replacing the dead drive with a fresh one, reinstalling windows and restoring data from your backups.

Except I can’t get into my BIOS. Which means I can’t perform the simple yet critical first step of telling my computer to boot from CD to start the installation.

So while I’m waiting for the phone call to find out whether or not I’m going to have to replace the entire mother board just to swap out a hard drive (insert suppressed rage here), tea is keeping me afloat. Today it’s rooibos green tea with a scoop of honey. It’s the first chance I’ve had for a cup of tea in over a week and it is, in a word, bliss.

I mentioned recently discovering the joys of loose leaf tea. For my birthday, my in-laws sent me three different Adagio tea sampler sets (orchard herbal, green rooibos and teas of Japan). I have it in my head to take advantage of their personal blends to make a tea for Domerin. But before I start playing with the perfect mix, I thought it would be good to learn how everything tastes.

I discovered Adagio because they actually messaged me on Tumblr to tell me about the fandom blend section of their site. For those that don’t know, this is where fans of books, TV series and movies can actually make blends tailored to their specific fandom which other fans can then purchase from Adagio. They thought, as an author, I’d be pretty interested in that; and so I am. A fellow Canadian user had such high praise for the company, I just had to give it a try. I asked my mother-in-law to split a box with me (to save on shipping) but she sent me the aforementioned gift instead.

The first box I tore into was the Orchard Sampler. It seems they have since changed some of their samplers so the closest match is now the ‘orchard herbal,’ although it has wild strawberry instead of sour apple. My pack contained Blood Orange, Sour Apple, Berry Blues and Raspberry Patch. Three of the four are flavors I regularly seek, so I was interested to give them a try.

A friend of mine writes fantastic tea reviews on her blog. I am not so good at breaking down flavors as she is, but I thought I’d share the highlights of my journey.

Blood Orange
One of the number one draws to this pack for me. I used to have a mandarin orange tea I drank in the evenings for relaxation but, alas, I haven’t been able to find it since we returned from England. As you can imagine, this tea has a fruity base and a strong citrus flavor. If you add milk it tastes like a creamsicle, but you have to be careful about curdling the milk. I’m a tea re-heater and I found when I re-heated the tea it curdled the milk. But even without the milk it’s fantastic. I usually sweeten my tea with a scoop of honey and that’s about perfect for all these teas.

Herbal teas don’t re-steep very well, in part because you need to steep them so long in the first place and in part because they simply don’t have enough flavor to impart a second time. BUT, if you re-brew any of these teas with half the amount of water and pop them in the fridge overnight, they make a fantastic iced tea. I found it a tad weak on its own, but add a splash of lemonade and it’s like liquid bliss. It always brings out the fruit flavor so, in this case, the result is very orangey.

I’m pretty sure this is going to end up in Domerin’s tea. He definitely approves.

Sour Apple
Apple cinnamon is recent addition to my tea library. It’s good, but the cinnamon is a bit overpowering. The sour apple that came with my sampler is much more appealing. It’s got a rich, tangy flavor. And like the blood orange, it makes a fantastic iced tea, especially if you throw in a splash of lemonade. I definitely prefer it to the overly cinnamon bag alternative (made by a different company). I think a small pouch would make an excellent addition to my next batch of mulled apple cider.

Berry Blues
Another primary draw for me. I’ve gone through a lot of blueberry teas. I started with Tazo’s Blueberry White when they first introduced it to Starbucks. Then I moved on to Tetley’s Blueberry Green, which sadly I can no longer find. Which led me to Tetley’s ‘Calm’ (which we always keep in the cupboard) and DavidsTea’s Berry White (which is also fantastic).

Adagio’s Berry Blues is a lot like drinking pie filling. It’s got a rich, tart flavor and it’s more a mix of all berries than specifically blueberry. My first sip made me think of a mulled cider with dried berries. Which is a fantastic thought, actually, and I might try it. Unfortunately as far as blueberry teas go, I think David’s Berry White has the edge for me – I like a subtler fruit flavor on top the floral base. But my husband seems to adore this particular tea and that’s high praise coming from a man who has hated tea for most of his life.

As with the others, it makes a fantastic iced tea, especially when mixed with lemonade. I think the blueberry was my second favorite iced after the blood orange.

Raspberry Patch
This tea is similar in flavor to the Berry Blues. So I’m actually surprised they offer both in the same sampler. To someone else there might be more nuanced differences between the two, but to me the Raspberry just seemed tamer, which made it my least favorite of the bunch. But my husband is rather fond of this one too, and I do like it iced, so we’ve got a pretty great arrangement going on.

So far, I really love what I’ve tasted. Even if the raspberry and blueberry aren’t my favorites, they aren’t bad either. They pack a lot of flavor into the cup and they certainly won’t go to waste. If you’ve got a favorite orchard tea blend, Adagio or otherwise, let me know in the comments! I always love to try new teas!

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