Monday, July 5, 2010

Christmas in July

A pretty corner garden.

Open the door and let the cool wind in, it's Christmas in July! No, I am not going against all my principles and starting the Christmas season early. But I want to talk about some Christmas teas I purchased from Adagio so you won't do what I did – purchase them so late in the season, they are only good for Valentine's Day. If you get samples, get them early, so you can order what you like in larger sizes.

Here, then, the ones I've been sampling. The first is Gingerbread and that is exactly what it is. From the first whiff out of the tin to the last bit from the pot, it is gingerbread. A very mild and not too sweet confection, with pieces of what looks like dried ginger in it. I brewed it at 1 teaspoon for 3.5 minutes in almost boiling water. I think maybe an added half teaspoon would've been more to my taste. I also thought a bit of cream and sugar made it better and I also liked it with a bit of honey. A nice tea for an afternoon with cookies, either making or eating them.

However that was not the case with Candy Cane. Upon opening the can there was a faint whiff of something like a candy store – a generic kind of sweet. Oh well, said I, must be they got the peppermint tamed. I brewed it as they said – for 5 minutes with boiling water. Surprisingly it was quite mild – not what I expected from black tea. Sadly, the flavor was also mild – so mild I wasn't sure what it was. It did taste vaguely of candy with the merest hint of peppermint, but that's it. Much too undefined for my taste.

Pumpkin Spice is another one that is definitely what it says. The dry tea smells pretty vaguely of it, the brewing tea, very strongly spicy, with perhaps too much clove. I only brewed it for 4.5 minutes, but that was too long. I would drop back to 3.5 next time. The taste of the tea is nowhere near as strong as the smell, but to my mind, the spice overwhelms the pumpkin. It is also not at all sweet. Cream enhanced this tea immeasurably, as did sugar and I would recommend it if you add them. If not, it's not that good.

Another great holiday flavor is Cranberry, often canned as sauce, sometimes made fresh to go with our baked meats, or veggies, if that is your preference. Dried, the tea had a sweet berry smell that came out even more as it brewed. After 4.5 minutes with boiling water, there was a cranberry taste, somewhat sweet, with the characteristic dryness that is part of it. Milk made it taste awful! I am not sure the base tea was the best either for the blend or on its own.

The last one I tried is Chestnut and I have to say, if you like graham crackers, you will probably like this. It really smells just like them and the taste is close to those childhood favorites as well. I have not had too many tastings of the chestnut – roasted at Christmas and as a sweet puree in crepes, so I'm not sure I can really judge this, but it did not remind me of either of those . Again, I did it for 4.5 minutes with boiling water. Surprisingly, the addition of milk made this taste much more like chestnuts. So much so that it no longer reminded me of graham crackers.

So there you have it, one prejudiced woman's take on one company's Christmas offerings. I think Adagio has another holiday tea, but I forget which it is, as I only bought the ones I thought I might like. I think it had clove as the prominent spice, which is not my favorite in tea. I tried all these in the late winter/early spring, so they didn't hang around and get stale. I've been waiting and waiting for July to finally arrive so I could blog them for you.

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