Lisa Shearin, National Bestselling Author

Updates on The Gorgon Agenda and more

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The following is my October newsletter. Click here to subscribe, and you won’t miss any book updates.   

This newsletter is a little different. As always, I will give you an update on The Gorgon Agenda. It’s going great. Taking July off did wonders for me. Dory and Loki (our greyhounds) are doing well, though mealtimes are a challenge with Dory because of her kidney issues, but I’m up to it. I’m only working five days a week. I’m taking weekends off, at least from writing. There’s plenty of household chores and yardwork that won’t do themselves. Though at least now that it’s fall, everything needing cutting and trimming starts to slow down, so that’s less work.

Fall is my favorite time of the year, and not just because the grass and weeds stop growing. Today I’m going to talk about tea – fall teas, to be exact. I love tea even more than fall. I always drink tea while I’m writing, either in a mug, or if I’m feeling fancy, from a vintage pot with a pretty cup and saucer. I write my first drafts longhand with vintage fountain pens in journals, so good tea is a must.    

Ashley from Adagio Teas recently contacted me to ask if I’d like to review some of their fall blend loose teas. Of course, I said yes. Adagio always has a wide selection of seasonal tea offerings, as well as teaware and gifts for tea lovers. I told her that I have a serious weakness bordering on addiction for teaware, especially infuser mugs, but it’s hard to find a good one. Ashley graciously sent me one of their double-walled porcelain mugs with a stainless-steel infuser and lid.       

I requested the Double-Wall Leaves infuser cup. The verdict? I love it. The stainless-steel infuser extends down far enough in the cup to allow for a good steeping. It’s rare to find a good infuser-to-cup-depth ratio. Plus, it has a lid with a cutout for the infuser hook. Great feature. I’ve never had a double-walled porcelain mug. A problem I’ve had with other infuser mugs is that they don’t keep the tea at a good drinking temperature for long (or even short) writing sessions. The double-walled cup took care of that. The tea stays hotter for longer, and the mug is nice and warm. Hot tea without burned hands. For marathon sessions, I have an electric mug warmer, but for normal workdays when I want different teas for the morning and afternoons, the Adagio infuser cup does the job — and I love the fall leaves.

Ashley sent me their Autumn Tea Sampler, which came in a nice gift box containing four of their fall seasonal blends: Autumn Mist Green, Honeybush Pumpkin Chai, Pumpkin Spice, and Bonfire. These are loose teas, not tea bags. But don’t let that scare you. Each package tells you the amount of tea per cup, water temperature needed, and steeping time. Just do what the package says, and you’ll get the tea as it was intended to taste. Note: Those of you who drink a lot of tea probably already have an electric tea kettle where you can select the water temperature. If you don’t, you should treat yourself to one. They’re not expensive, and you’ll be getting the best taste from your tea.  

Here’s my take on each blend – with each brewed per the package instructions in my new Adagio fall leaves infuser mug. Note: I left all of these unsweetened. I only use sugar (and then very little) in seriously strong black teas.    

Autumn Mist Green: A blend of gunpowder green tea, apple pieces, cinnamon, rose hips, natural crème brulee flavor, marigold flowers, and rose petals. I love green teas, but I’m not normally into fruit teas. And I have no idea what marigold flowers taste like. And crème brulee? Okaaay. I had no idea how Adagio could put crème brulee taste in a cup, but they did it. To tell you how much I liked it, I’m drinking it right now. For me, enjoying a tea is as much about the scent as the taste. I’ve got to have both for it to be a winner in my book. The verdict? I need to make room in my tea stash for this one. The crème brulee, along with the apple and cinnamon, makes for a silky smooth taste and aroma. I love this tea. It’s coziness in a cup.

Honeybush Pumpkin Chai: A blend of honeybush tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cocoa nibs, natural pumpkin spice, and safflower. I pretty much stick to the basics when it comes to tea, but I’m always up for trying something new. I’ve never had honeybush tea. Turns out it’s a “naturally sweet South African tea with a honey aroma and taste,” which sounds like it’s right up my alley; and as a bonus, it’s caffeine free. Also, I’ve never had chai anything. I know, what rock have I been living under, right? I brewed a cup. The color is a deep amber/red. Nice. The scent is Red Hots. You know, the spicy candy? I can taste the honeybush tea (honey), cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. I can’t pick out the cocoa nibs, pumpkin spice, and safflower (I don’t know what that last one would taste like). There’s no, single overwhelming flavor. It all balances, which is good. It’s what a blend is supposed to do. This tea leaves a light, spicy taste, but not too spicy. It’s like a warm fire on a cool night. Note: When you get to the bottom, give the cup a swirl so you don’t miss out on the final pop of taste in the leaves.   

Pumpkin Spice: I went to Trader Joe’s this week and only bought two pumpkin spice products: coffee and tortilla chips (the chips because I just had to know what pumpkin spice tortilla chips tasted like). Verdict? Not bad, not bad at all, though my taste buds were confused by the combo. I’ve never gone in for that whole “pumpkin spice” craziness that erupts as soon as the first leaf hits the ground. I love cinnamon and nutmeg, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. Adagio’s Pumpkin Spice Tea is a blend of black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, natural pumpkin spice flavor, cardamom, and marigold flowers. The scent (to me) is cloves and ginger. The taste is ginger snaps in a cup, and I do love me some ginger snaps. Other than the cloves and ginger, the flavors blend, which as I’ve said is a good thing. If you like your pumpkin spice with a little kick, this is your tea.

Bonfire: This tea is aptly named. A blend of honeybush tea, apple pieces, lapsang souchong tea, aniseed, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, rose hips, cloves, orange, red peppercorn, safflower, natural cinnamon flavor, natural hazelnut flavor, and natural orange flavor. There is a lot going on in this tea. The scent is smoky and licorice-y (if that’s even a word). I’m not a fan of licorice or hazelnut. (I’ve only had hazelnut coffee. Once. I really wish hazelnut tasted as good as it smelled.) Then comes the peppercorn. Bam! Bonfire is the perfect name. Kudos to whoever named it. My verdict? This tea is not shy. If you’re one who prefers tea with an attitude, you’ll probably like it. But for me, pardon the pun: It’s not my cup of tea.

Final lineup of the four: Autumn Mist Green (I’ll be buying more of that one) is my number one pick. In second place is the Honeybush Pumpkin Chai. I’d never had honeybush tea before, and I really liked it in this blend. I’ll have to explore that one and chai further. In third place was the Pumpkin Spice. It was really good, but a little too spicy for me. In fourth was the conflagration in a cup that is Bonfire. Only the adventuresome tea drinker, or hard-core spice aficionado need apply.

That’s it for now! Ashley also sent some of my all-time favorite tea – Genmaicha. (I drink that stuff by the pot.) I’ll cover that in my next newsletter, as well as any book updates.

Thank you Ashley and Adagio Teas!    

And as always, take care, be safe, and stay healthy!


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