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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Product review: Dragon Age Inspired Tea

 It's been months since Dragon Age: Inquisition was released, and I'm still pulling myself out of the hermit-inducing lifestyle the game created for me, both in the hours I spent in multiple play-throughs and my replays of Origins and DA2.

Right after the game's release, I spent a few weeks in England for Christmas, where I drank tea about 2-3 times per day every day. I've always liked tea, but it was a reminder of how much I enjoyed it.

And here's where these two seemingly unrelated snippets converge: a few weeks ago, a friend told me about Adagio Teas, which provides a staggering variety of options in the loose-leaf tea department. They also allow customers to create their own blends, and out of that a huge market of fandom-inspired teas was born. When I realized I could combine my love of Dragon Age with the process of drinking tea? I was sold.

This particular sampler set was created by Cara McGee (who, as it turns out, also lives in Atlanta), who has a number of other fandom tea lines, like Sherlock, Doctor Who, and Marvel-inspired characters.

The sampler set is $19 and comes with 6 tins, each of which makes about five cups of tea. The tins are adorned with Cara's custom artwork. I am absolutely not a tea expert, but here are my novice impressions of each.

Dorian Pavus: This one is a green chai, with hints of peppercorn and chocolate. It's a little bit spicy but still very mellow at the same time. I liked this one a good deal, and prefer it for winding down at night with a little bit of honey.

Solas: I guess it's fitting that the Solas tea has a strong, almost off-putting smell, because he definitely has a strong personality. This was the last in the set I tried because the smell was just so overwhelming - it has a smokey lapsang souchong base and is accented with cloves. Somehow the combination almost struck me as medicinal in smell. But anyway, I got over that and finally gave it a try. It's still my least favorite of the bunch because I'm not a fan of smokey teas, but it mellowed out a LOT when brewed.

Garrett Hawke: Oh, poor Hawke. Nothing ever goes right for you, yet you're all sass and jokes as your life crumbles into ruin. Hawke is a strong, get-you-out-of-bed kind of tea. That lapsang souchong shows up in a lot of these teas, which makes sense, as it definitely invokes a 'campfire' vibe, and though it shows up here, I didn't mind it. The base is a chocolate chai, and it even has brightly-colored sprinkles! See?

Alistair: It's completely fitting yet totally coincidental (I think?) that my two favorite teas in this set were my two favorite romances in the games. The first of those is Alistair. If you've played DAO, you can probably guess how this tea smells - like a garden of roses. This is basically an earl grey with a strong rose scent, along with some mild almond flavor. I like it with a little bit of milk, but it's sweet enough on its own that I don't really need any honey with it.

Cullen Rutherford: That brings us to my other favorite, and probably my hands-down favorite overall, as I've already gone through the sample and ordered a full bag. Cullen is a black tea (assam melody) with a really strong, sweet caramel smell that comes through as a more mild caramel taste. It's the perfect every-day, any-mood tea.

Fenris: And last but not least, we have Fenris. Neither my favorite nor my least favorite of the bunch, which is about how he rated with me in the games too. Fenris is a green tea and is a little bitter and very earthy. If you're a fan of green tea, this will probably be a hit.

Overall, I loved the sampler. It's not hard to see the connections between the characters' personalities and the flavors of the tea. If you're new to loose-leaf tea, you'll also want to order either some empty tea bags or an infuser (this one is my favorite).
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