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The best thing about living in the city was how I could walk or bike from our house to a number of great stores, including a fair trade bulk tea and herb store. I have loved tea since I was a teenager: all kinds of green tea, white tea, jasmine pearls, herbal teas, homemade chais, anything hot and steeped. The fair trade tea store near where we lived had amazing prices, and I could buy just enough for one pot, if that was all I wanted.
When I moved out to the woods, I quickly learned that not even the local health food stores carried anything other than commercial tea bags. Friends began suggesting that I shop at Teavana, the mall-based mega-corp of the tea world. Well, it didn’t take much poking around to find out that Teavana really freaking sucks. Not only do they charge an insane mark-up for what is essentially slave-labor tea from China because they’ve blended and branded it, their tea itself has reportedly tested positive in the past for dangerous levels of pesticides. Unethical,overpriced and unhealthy? No thank you.
I started searching online for fair trade tea companies. It was then that I found Adagio Tea.
They prioritize organic teas but have a very reasonable approach to organic certification. Specifically, because tea takes time to grow, new organic tea sources may not have the depth of flavor people expect from quality tea blends. Adagio works directly with farmers to source tea that is grown sustainably and ensures that their strict guidelines on pesticides are followed when transitional/non-organic sources are used.
Oh, and working with the farmers? That’s a real priority at Adagio, too. Their unique Roots Campaign allows tea buyers to read about the actual humans who grow and process the teas. Because Adagio buys directly from growers, they help create a better standard of living for those growers, who can then focus on producing a high quality product for a fair, living wage.
Adagio Teas is primarily an online business, though they do have a few stores. On Yelp, their Skokie, IL, Naperville, IL and Chicago, IL store locations have a 5, 4.5 and 4.5 star rating respectively, which is pretty good, all things considered. The positive reviews left me interested enough to look through their custom blends, and what I found amazed me.
Customers can actually create their own custom blends and labels based on various fandoms, and boy have they. Love Teen Wolf, Supernatural or Disney Princesses? There are over 67,000 tea blends created as homages to these and many, many more fandoms on the Adagio site, and plenty of the blends are based on fan fiction pairings and OTPs, as opposed to strict cannon. And even better? Some of the more popular ones can be purchased in sampler sets, complete with individual tea tins and adorable, fan-art labels.
I took the plunge and ordered the Doctor Who Sampler Set. It arrived in a little box. Each of the tins has a clear sticker label applied with the fan art from the website, including the flavors of the tea.
Of the six teas in the box, the only one I wasn’t crazy about was 10, because despite much exposure to it, I can’t stand the taste of guanabana. Those who like that sweet flavor that rests somewhere between bubblegum and banana will enjoy the hint of that flavor in the tea (as my husband did); it’s just wasn’t my cup of…oh, you know. The Rory
Williams Pond blend is probably my favorite, followed by 9. Each tea blend is complex and unique without being too weird to be enjoyed regularly. Each set of blends is made by someone else, so be sure to read the descriptions and reviews of the teas before committing, as not all blends are created equal.
If you buy a sampler (or even just a single tea to try), I’d recommend trying each tea plain before trying it with milk, honey, sugar or any other additions you enjoy in your tea. Some of them are sweeter than you might expect, while others are too complex to mix well with milk. All of that, of course, is personal opinion, which is why I’m not reviewing each blend in depth. Suffice it to say, I plan to order some more soon. I just have to decide if I want to try more Doctor Who (I’m looking at you, Captain Jack) teas or if I’m going to branch out into the Harry Potter teas.
Visit the Adagio website to check out their blends and order some tea today. Orders over $49 get free shipping, and smaller orders only pay $3.75 for ground shipping. Adagio also has a Facebook page, for those interested in getting regular updates about the company, including notice about limited edition sample set sales!
Check out: More product reviews on Ladybud
Photo Credit: The Adagio Teas Facebook Page, Up-Free under public domain via pixabay