Posted by: dan | March 23, 2009

the first adagio

mandarin-header

Dan: Over the weekend, we received a generous box full of teas from adagio. There was one of each sample, so this meant dividing the selection between Ben and myself, and each of us would review our chosen teas individually. After much careful sniffing and swapping in Starbucks on a sunny saturday, we had our teas. When Sunday morning rolled around, it was bright and sunny again, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to sample one of the new teas. And there were no new posts ready for the next week, so I had to, didn’t I? Seizing the moment, I picked out the ‘Mandarin White’ as I thought it would be a nice, light tea to complement the weather.

The teabag samples we received were all individually wrapped, and have the description and brewing instructions printed on the outside. The Mandarin White is a

“Premium white tea with the glorious aroma and flavour of mandarin oranges. Steep in simmering water for 7 minutes.”

Dried leaves and Orange bits

Dried leaves and Orange bits

Well, the smell is not one I would describe as glorious, though it is certainly strong. The scent of mandarins is about as strong as the smell of the white tea, and they don’t really sit together very well. I didn’t find it the most pleasant smell in the world, but it was not without its charm, as they did combine slightly to create a smell of an old tree in autumn. This was not a great start, but after the usual photo shoot, I popped the teabag in my cup, boiled some water and mixed the two for roughly seven minutes. I may have done it for a bit too long, as I wasn’t paying proper attention (Hey, it was a Sunday morning, and 7 minutes is a long time to brew tea!).

The aroma of the brewed cup is more agreeable, allowing the two distinctive scents to combine more fully, although it does still smell of exactly what it is: a white tea with mandarin flavours. A quick note on that, by the way: the teabag is mostly small white tea leaves, but contains tiny shreds of orange peel. It’s a little odd finding chunks of fruit in a teabag, but I doubt it’s the weirdest thing you can find in them.

Semi-white tea

Semi-white tea

After the long brewing time, the tea is ready for drinking. Or rather, it isn’t. From the first sip, it’s a strange taste; bitter yet fruity at the same time, and you’ll jump for the sugar pot immediately. This tea has an edge, and it needs removing. Thankfully, the teaspoon of sugar does that, though it doesn’t make the taste any better. It’s like drinking orange juice that’s gone off, and then been heated. It’s not quite a white tea, as the strength of the mandarins strips away any of the usual subtlety and lightness, and it’s not quite an orange juice, as the strength of the tea overpowers the sweetness of the fruit. Overall, it’s just a bad mix of clashing flavours.

But, as the title so aptly declares, this is just the first of many teas adagio have been kind enough to provide us with, and one tea is never an indication of the quality of others. There are plenty of other teas to try, ranging from blacks, whites, oolongs, greens and rooibos. Some are familiar, such as a Yunnan, and others are rather exotic, like the decidedly minty-scented Casablanca Twist. And we’ve not finished with the Jing Tea Explorer Set yet, and the Baxter tea Company have sent us a few samples as well, so there should be plenty of tea tasting and reviewing to come.

Dan was drinking adagio’s Mandarin White tea, which is currently unavailable, and costs ¬£4.99 for 15 teabags.

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