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An Introduction to Adagio’s Signature Blends

Blending Tea Leaves
Blending Tea Leaves
Enjoying Custom Blends with Friends
Enjoying Custom Blends with Friends

Have you ever wondered what a book would taste like?

Have you ever wanted to drink your favorite movie?

Have you ever imagined making a fandom into a blend of tea, dressed in vanilla and hazelnut?

If you scroll through the Signature Blends series on Adagio.com, you’ll find that you are not the only one! With over 100,000 blends housed on the website—currently 103,685 blends square—there are literally thousands of ways to explore your passion through flavor.

It’s a fantastic study in community and creativity. You can spend an entire afternoon exploring the different ways that people around the world have interpreted non-comestible concepts and given them new meaning through tea.

How did this all start?

One morning, Brony Bob was sipping Earl Grey over a marathon of My Little Pony, waiting for a batch of vanilla-mint cupcakes to finish cooling on the windowsill. Upon biting into the first tender ‘cake, the mélange of tea and pastry flavors triggered a synaesthetic brainblast.

“Why, this tastes like Rarity!” Brony Bob exclaimed. “I must tell the guys!”

He immediately dove into his tea supply, mixed up a whole batch of Raritea, and announced it on Tumblr for all his Brony friends to share and enjoy.

The true history of the Signature Blends is far more fascinating. This rollicking little section of Adagio is the result of a ten-year journey in flavor expression.

It began in 2007 as a project to create a Custom Blends option, for users of Adagio.com to select from the teas on the website and mix up their own. The section was first launched on the website in 2008, and what’s incredible is that the first-ever blend is still available! Mexican Chocolate was brought to us by the lovely Maggie Bonham, who has since created 10 other blends to tantalize and delight the senses.

As the Signature Blends grew more popular, the section became infused with teas created with specific books, movies, animé, and video games in mind. Cara McGee, master fandom blend-bender, pioneered this with a line of Doctor Who blends: thirteen distinct teas, each crafted to represent the eclectic cast of personages throughout the show’s history. (And yes, the Tardis counts as a person. Anything with a personality counts—and don’t even try to pun that. It’s already been oversteeped.)

Since then, Cara has engineered 29 more blend-lines, and is still going strong. If you consider that each line contains 1 or more teas, then that accounts for a staggering individual percentage of that 103,685 total.

Small wonder that the fandom blends became a section all of their own, allowing users to more easily create and access their favorite characters in a sippable, shippable medium.

As for my own experience?

Alrighty. Flashback goggles, go!

College is a time for experimentation. For me, that meant trying to hack a good cup of green tea in a dorm dining hall—hot water, then immediately a shot of cold to prevent tannin bitterness—and using that green tea to help focus on swinging on bars at the gym. (Five years later, skin-the-cats are still a challenge. Don’t quit gymnastics at nine, kids.)

This was in 2009-2013, when foodie culture was starting to pick up speed. During this era, Collegekid Natasha could watch top chefs blend-bend flavors across dorm TVs, cardio machines, and the Internet. Collegekid Natasha could also watch My Little Pony and Game of Thrones when she needed a break from the dang cardio.

On one of these breaks, scrolling through the Signature Blends section on Adagio, I realized that no one had yet done a My Little Pony tea.

Challenge accepted.

What ensued was something not too far from the Brony Bob story. The vanilla-mint cupcakes might have been oat-flax mug muffins infused with protein powder, but hey—we all make mistakes.

Having started these blends right before the Fandom Blends section officially came into being, it’s been an honor to watch this facet of tea culture grow and come into its own. Dare I say that Adagio is a fandom in and of itself? Because if so, count me in, even as a small part of the greater history that suffuses the Signature Blends showcase.

Thus, this article series is dedicated to exploring these extraordinary teas, examining why they are as popular as they are, and breaking down the blend-bending methodology so that you can create your own Signature Blend—whether it’s fandom, random, or personal—with perfect confidence.

So, how do these blends come about in the first place? How can we render intangible, non-tea beings as a culinary sensation? What is it about flavor-chemicals that allows one person on one end of the country to commune with another person on the other end of the country, with a single tea as the connection?

Keep that kettle on, for the next installment of the TeaMuse Signature Blends series!