Since Tea Zone closed, I've been trying to find a replacement source of herbal tea, mostly by looking online. Upton is good for a lot of things, and I'll keep getting honeybush and poire creme from them, and the occasional green or black, but they don't offer much in the way of fruit+spices+flower bits herbal teas. When these are good, they are my favorite kind of herbal tea. But they're often disappointing. Many places who offer such things are essentially just selling one apple+hibiscus+rosehip tea under six different names, with a tiny dash of some other fruit thrown in to make it seem like each variety is actually different.
I tried getting a few things from Adagio, hoping that their Mango Melange was the same as the Mango Melange I'd known and loved at Tea Zone. I also tried their Dewey Cherry, some flavored rooibos (hazelnut and apricot), and their chocolate chai. Good tea is all about complex flavors. If you're adding a fruit, nut, or other flavor to a tea, you should make it blend with the flavors of the tea itself. Adagio fails at this entirely. Their black tea and their rooibus are nearly flavorless, and even their rosehip/hibiscus mix has very little flavor. Each one of their teas basically tasted like a shot of syrup mixed into a glass of water. The chocolate chai tasted purely of cinnamon and not at all of chocolate (nor of the cardamom that was supposedly in there), and like cinnamon candy rather than real cinnamon. Adagio has taught me just how artificial something can taste even with all natural ingredients.
Today I opened my box from TeaVera. It has been an excellent day. Their Mango Melange is very similar to the one I used to get from Tea Zone, even though it has sunflower blossoms in place of rose hips. Both versions are reminiscent of biting into a tart fruit on a warm tropical beach. I also tried the Autumn Blend, which is primarily cinnamon, citrus, and clove. It tastes like mulled cider. It makes me very happy. I'm trying to figure out if I like the Cinnamon Plum (cinnamon, plum, hibiscus, currants, and licorice). I ordered it hoping that the licorice would not be a dominant flavor, and it isn't, but it may still be too much for me. On the other hand, it may grow on me. If the queen from Snow White had a tea, this would be it: blood red, dark, and rich. I haven't opened the White Chocolate Mousse black tea yet, but I am looking forward to it. I also got a sample of Kuding tea. We'll see if it grows on me or if I get better at steeping it, but right now it's too bitter. In summary, mmm, TeaVera.