Cuppa, cuppa everywhere, nor any drop to drink

I read this post a few weeks ago about tea samples and was intrigued. Never mind that I already have so much tea that my cabinet door doesn't quite close properly. Never mind that I still own teas I haven't tasted. Never mind that I still haven't found a really efficient way to dispose of loose tea once I've brewed it (I always end up with either leaves and tea dripping all over my trash bag or a sink drain full of leaves).

Never mind any of this. More tea must be obtained!

I shopped around at all the sites linked to in the article and was immediately overwhelmed by my options, gave up and forgot all about the whole thing until I was twittering about the ingenuiTEA teapot. A friend mentioned that Adagio Teas (maker of said teapot) have a link rewards program and will send you a free ingenuiTEA set just for linking to their online store! Well, unfortunately, I don't have quite the Google PageRank to merit a whole teapot, but at PR 4, I am still eligible for some free tea!

This helped narrow the field of samples down a bit, so I decided to start with Adagio. They still had a ridiculously vast selection of teas, though, so it took me a while to settle on the teas I was going to try. Finally I decided to put to rest a long-standing question in my mind: What kind of mint tea do I like? In Israel (or indeed in many Middle Eastern restaurants in the US) I've had tea made with fresh mint, but have never known which variety of mint it was that I liked. So I sent away for a sample of Adagio's spearmint and peppermint teas so that I could do a side-by-side taste test (they also had the advantage of being some of the cheapest samples that I found on the site, although that wasn't my original motivation).

Now, on to the taste test!

KettleFirst, we must heat the water.
TeasThe tea tin tells me that the tea is supposed to be brewed for seven minutes in 180° water.
Kumar and Ryan ReynoldsI do not have a fancy tea kettle that can be set to different temperatures for different types of teas, so instead I use the highly scientific method of leaving the room while the kettle boils and going to watch Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle until I suppose an adequate amount of time has passed for the temperature to drop to 180°. Mmmm, Ryan Reynolds.
TeasSpike the punch and take a sip Open the teas and take a sniff! The spearmint smells like Wrigley's Spearmint gum. I hadn't made the connection between the mint and the gum before, somehow. (There is a little less in the peppermint container, because I cheated and had a cup before the official taste test, which had to wait until I got my new camera.) I think I like the smell of the peppermint better.
Tea strainersI do not have two of the same strainers, so I used one of each. I don't think it affected the flavor too much. I fully recognize that cup-by-cup is not the proper way to brew tea, but heck if I'm gonna drink two pots of mint tea tonight. So there.
CupsCups are very important. Do not forget the cups! Otherwise, you will have a mess on your hands.
Spearmint teaThe spoon was a little big for the tin, so I ended up just pouring it...
Tea in tea ball... into the strainers.
Pouring the water inAdd the water!
Harold, NPH and KumarThe tea needs to steep for SEVEN minutes! So you have some time to watch Neil Patrick Harris being creepy!
Tea!Ding! Fries are done! Tea is done! The color of the peppermint and the spearmint is pretty comparable, at least according to this picture. In person, I thought the spearmint was a little darker, but that could have been based on the lighting, on slightly different amounts of tea, or on the straining receptacle used.
Smelling the teaSmell the delicious aroma. Once again, I find the smell of the peppermint tea more appealing.
Blowing on the teaDon't burn your mouth! Blow on the tea first! I recently advised a twoish-year-old to blow on his food if he thought it was too hot, and he basically just spit all over it. Fortunately I am a laaaaaayyyydeee and know how to properly cool my beverages. It does sort of look like I'm spitting, though, doesn't it? There's no helping that.
Tasting the tea Drinking the teaNext, I eat the banana, thereby disarming him. Next, we taste the teas. Surprisingly, although I preferred the smell of the peppermint tea both in leaf and brewed forms, I prefer the flavor of the spearmint tea. The peppermint is a bit too astringent, if that is a word that can be properly applied here. It reminds me a bit too much of mouthwash, and even seems to leave my mouth tingling in the same way that mouthwash does. The spearmint has a much more subtle and drinkable flavor.
Thumbs-upsrah gives the spearmint tea a thumbs-up! (Peppermint gets sort of a "meh".) I'm still not sure if either of them really reminds me of the tea I had in Israel, but maybe they make it differently (I do remember on at least one occasion being offered a regular Lipton teabag along with my mint leaves), or use a whole different kind of mint, or maybe it's the difference between dried and fresh mint.

Next I want to try the Cream, Oriental Spice or Masala Chai and Irish Breakfast AND I have to decide whether I want the black, green, herbal or flavored free sampler (of course, there is no overlap between the samplers and the individual flavors I want to try!). Eventually I'll have to get around to trying the samples from one of the other stores, but there's still so much to taste at this one! (I'm not purposely approaching tea stores in alphabetical order, but I think I may try Arbor Teas next, because they're located in Ann Arbor.)

If you would like to give Adagio's teas a try, I can send $5 gift certificates to anyone who's interested. Just let me know!

srah - Monday, 21 July 2008 - 12:08 PM
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Comments (16)

gravatar Ruth Marie Sylte - July 21, 2008 - 3:26 PM -

I dispose of all my brewed tea leaves into my compost bucket in the kitchen, which then goes in my backyard composter, which then eventually goes on my garden/plants. Efficient and natural recycling!

gravatar Noor - July 21, 2008 - 4:56 PM -

I don't drink tea but my people do! I believe my parents make tea using Earl Grey and then they add fresh mint leaves in the pot. Not sure if that will taste the same as the mint tea you had in Isreal. On the plus side, mint is supposed to be pretty easy to grow.

gravatar Aunt Pat - July 21, 2008 - 5:12 PM -

Mint is very easy to grow, but I don't think I've ever actually used mine for tea. It's mostly for mojitos. Maybe I should try it for tea.

gravatar srah - July 21, 2008 - 5:29 PM -

From what I've heard, mint is easy to grow and hard to STOP growing. I think it's pretty invasive. <-- Hey, look at me trying to sound like I know something about plants! Ha ha!

gravatar JD - July 21, 2008 - 10:37 PM -

Srah,
You are absolutely correct about the mint. The Wife and I started a small plant this spring and already have several plants that are taking over a small bed. Luckily we knew this going in and allowed room for expansion. It is really nice to have fresh mint around though. I imagine that it would grow well in a window box for all of those landless people out there.

gravatar Aunt Pam - July 22, 2008 - 9:17 AM -

I love Adagio tea!!! (By the by, a lovely name for a tea company if you ask me!) I have Earl Grey Bravo, Irish Breakfast, a custom blend, and an herbal tincture of Blood Orange. I did have the peppermint but alas I have sipped that into oblivion. I do like that you can create your own custom blends at Adagio.

gravatar Aunt Pam - July 22, 2008 - 9:21 AM -

p.s. Your Monty Python reference cracked me up. Thanks for the Tuesday morning laugh-out-loud.

gravatar Aunt Pam - July 22, 2008 - 9:25 AM -

Sorry for so many comments about this post. But the little tea pot in question is very very cool also. If you want any other recommendation for Adagio, well, you know where to find me! ;-)

gravatar srah - July 22, 2008 - 10:52 AM -

Who wants a free $5 gift certificate from Adagio? Or, if you're already a member, who wants to be Tea Friends? :)

gravatar jday - July 22, 2008 - 11:49 AM -

Ooh, I want a GC!!! LOVE tea!

gravatar Aunt Pam - July 22, 2008 - 11:54 AM -

You're my tea friend Sarah!

gravatar EV - July 22, 2008 - 12:57 PM -

I'm jealous, the very smell of mint makes my spouse hurl. I know, what's with that? So I have to sneak gum, mint tea and the like while I'm at work, and then neutralize my breath with cranberry juice on the commute home.

Oh and to answer your next question, we use Toms of Maine orange mango or apricot toothpaste.

gravatar Missy - July 23, 2008 - 9:28 AM -

I would love a GC and I'd love to be Tea Friends. We (swirlspice and I) also have a bulging tea drawer. Right now it is mainly filled with Stash tea. Mmmm...tea...

gravatar srah - July 23, 2008 - 9:47 AM -

I'm a big fan of Stash's English Breakfast.

gravatar jday - July 23, 2008 - 6:57 PM -

We're tea friends!

gravatar Rubesh - August 25, 2008 - 6:38 PM -

Another "disposal" tip: You can use green tea leaves in your refrigerator (in a bowl uncovered for a few days) to neutralize unwanted odors. It's much more aesthetically pleasing than the orange box of baking soda in the corner!

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