Adagio Teas VelociTEA

About two years ago, while I was still working at my prior employer, a co-worker of mine and I were discussing hot tea. I have been a tea drinker most of my life. I usually have had to watch it in the past few years as hot tea would make me sleepy more than anything else. Hot drinks do that to me – they have for quite some time. But I love the flavors of hot tea, especially black teas.

I remember, as a kid, that we used to use a Mr. Coffee machine to brew fresh tea for dinner each night, and my thermos for school usually contained hot tea. Of course, the thermos that came with my lunchbox wasn’t one of the really premium quality “Thermos” brand, but hey, it was high quality or stylish; obviously, I had to have my Ghostbusters lunch box and matching drink carrier. But I digress.

The simple fact was, fresh tea, daily, was a major part of my life. As I got older, I started drinking less of it (during high school, and then in college) until I hit almost 22… at which point I started drinking it more frequently again, though mostly at night since, once again, the caffeine wasn’t as powerful as the heat, so it put me to sleep more than anything else.

At any rate, I started drinking it occasionally for work again in 2005, and in late 2016 I started looking for loose tea again in stores. And to my chagrin, I found that it was actually not an easy find anymore. Tea bags, convenient as they are, were really all you’d see in most grocery stores, save a few limited, very expensive choices.

As I said, I was discussing tea with my co-worker, and I mentioned how frustrating it was to not see much of a selection in stores for loose tea. Her suggestion was to check out a company called Adagio. I started looking at the products, and honestly, I liked what I saw. I made a mental note to order something and give it a try.

Yeah, it took me over 2 years to get back to that mental note. But finally this week, I looked around and found a very neat Apple Cinnamon black tea, and ordered a bag. I also ordered a tea maker. Namely, the Adagio VelociTEA. It’s a moderately pricey unit, but the reviews from customers led me to think, “OK, this seems like a slightly expensive, but very effective investment, so what the heck, I will try it.”

As it happens, the purchase of a bag of tea and the unit also nabbed me a free sample of my choice, so I decided on a Scottish Breakfast tea. I’m a black tea person.

The unit came in yesterday, along with the teas. First, I have to note that the entire unit was very nicely packed, very secure and well protected, with a few layers of bubble wrap around the box for the machine, and some additionally padding inside of the product box itself. So obviously, they care to protect their product. Set up took all of 5 minutes, most of that was reading the instructions and doing a quick wash-out of the actual tea pot.

5 minutes, and then another 8 minutes, and I had a fresh pot of tea, ready to go. I’m not kidding. This machine nicely brewed and steeped a pot of black tea to a very good strength and temperature in about 8 minutes. Now maybe that seems like some silly statement. Big deal, you can put a tea bag in and have tea that way in 4 or 5 minutes. Yes, but the quality of the flavor…. the fact that the heat was just right for the flavor, and the fact that it just tasted…. fresh. Look, I’m not saying everyone can justify spending money like this. The tea pot is $120, so it’s not exactly cheap. Then again, if you look at it as an investment, and you are brewing the gourmet blends at home rather than paying a premium at a coffee shop or restaurant, the eventual price per cup will come down pretty quickly.

I’ve already brewed at least 3 pots of tea with this machine. I use 10 oz mugs, and I get 4 mugs worth from a pot. So I’ve brewed 12 cups of coffee. Right now, that’s $10.00 per cup. I imagine during the winter I’ll be brewing at least a pot a day. so by the time winter ends in Buffalo, that probably means about 120 days (hence 120 pots) of tea. 480 cups. That’s $0.25 a cup. And the estimate for how much the tea costs at that volume ends up being about the same. So $0.50 per cup for any tea flavor I have. Even McDonald’s charges at least $1.00 for a cup, and it’s not necessarily a nicer premium blend flavor.

So did I make a wise investment? For me, absolutely. For my family? Sure! My kids love tea, and so does my wife. There are a lot of great flavors out there, and we intend to try more. Is this a purchase for everyone? No, not by a long shot – if you’re not much of a tea drinker, you probably won’t be interested. But I’m pleased with the unit. I’m pleased with the tea. I’m enjoying a Thermos (an actual Thermos brand container) full of it today at work. I’d say it was worth doing. My tummy agrees.

If you are interested in checking the maker out, here is the link for it. And check around their site. They do sell many of the flavors in tea bags, if a machine isn’t in your budget, or you can’t justify the money.

https://www.adagio.com/teaware/velociTEA.html

At some point, I will also do a bit of a review on the Thermos product, but that’ll be some other time.

Calypso Lemonade

It’s been a number of years since I first found and tried Calypso Lemonade. The first time I encountered it was at one of those gas-station / convenience store hybrids that dot the landscape of Buffalo nearly as much as the average Tim Horton’s donuts.

By my very nature, I prefer cool drinks to warm drinks. And of course, my biggest weakness has always been Dr. Pepper or any cherry cola. Growing up, in fact, I didn’t really enjoy lemonade. But as I hit my late teen years and then got into college, I did discover that lemonade was a taste I’d acquired along the way.

Today, I like my homemade blend, and I enjoy the sparkling lemonade that Wegman’s makes as part of it’s soft drink offerings, but a real special treat are the flavors of lemonade offered as part of the Calypso line. My ultimate favorite is either their strawberry or black cherry flavored varieties, but today, I discovered a new (for me) flavor, Island Wave Lemonade.

Non-Sponsored, Unsolicited Promotion Ahead

Calypso Lemonades have to be about the best drink offering of this nature I’ve ever had. There are at least a half-dozen flavors that I’ve tried and I have never had one that I didn’t enjoy. Of course, as with any of these drinks, you have to limit how much you have because they are, as expected, sugary drinks. So I don’t have these daily (mom, if you’re reading this, I’m not kidding, I only get these every so often, so don’t worry), but they make for a nice alternative of flavor every so often, and are a great reward on a hot day. Between these and some bottles of fresh water, I tend to feel the energy without the later sluggishness of having a regular soda.

So if you really want a neat and unique take on a good summer lemonade, but don’t want to make your own flavors, this is a great product to try. This isn’t a sponsored ad, but just an honest, simple point that I wanted to share. This stuff is fantastic!

Check for nearby retailers that sell the brand, and give one a try. If you’re a lemonade person, I guarantee you’ll find a flavor you love, just like I did.

Absolutely fantastic flavor!

Kitchen Activities #2 – Simple Homemade Lemonade

After last week’s success with the freckled lemonade, I decided to play with the recipe a bit to get a plain lemonade that does NOT require you to actually juice lemons. The upshot to this is that the recipe can be made in as little as 10 minutes.

The problem with that other recipe (problem is loosely used in this context) is that it requires you to buy a lot of lemons to juice. Now if you have an juicing machine, it’s not a terrible ordeal, but even so, you need at least 10 lemons for that recipe, and that alone is like $5 with of supplies for a single batch. Don’t get me wrong, the flavor is outstanding, but it is a lot of work to do, and if you want more than one batch, you’re going to be doing the juicing thing for a few hours.

So this recipe is done instead with a bottle of Lemon Juice, typically found in 32 oz sizes in grocery stores, and for about $3.00 per bottle. This will get you 2 – 3 batches of lemonade, depending on how strong you like to make it.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz (1 ½ cups) lemon juice
  • 16 oz (2 cups) water
  • 1.5 cups of white sugar

Procedure

Bring the 16 oz of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan on the stove. Slowly add in the sugar, a half-cup at a time, stirring until it dissolves. Once you’ve dissolved in all 1.5 cups of sugar, let it boil for about another minute, than set aside.

Pour the 12 oz of lemon juice into a large (48 oz or larger) pitcher. Add some ice. After the sugar / water mixture has cooled, you can add it to the ice and lemon juice. After that, you’ll need to fill up the pitcher slowly with cold water and stir it regularly. This part will need to be done to taste. I like a slightly more sour flavor, but some people prefer it more balance and others prefer sweeter, so you’ll need to mix it to your preference. I suggest playing with the balance of the portions until you find one you and / or your guests will like.

The best balance seems to be 2.5 cups of cold water to 12 oz lemon juice and 16 oz of syrup water, but again, that’s something you do to taste.

Kitchen Activities #1 – Freckled Lemonade

Technically not my first successful experiment in cooking / baking / etc… not by a long shot… but this is the first one I’m documenting on here. I don’t have a bunch of pictures or anything, but hopefully this will serve as a decent springboard of content.

So I have a major addiction to freckled lemonade from Red Robin. Of course, It’s like $3.50 to get it with your meal, and I certainly don’t want to have to drive 25 minutes every time I have a craving, and have to get the meal, just to get a taste of their drink.

Well, Pinterest comes to the rescue. I found a copycat recipe that I gave a try, and amazingly it worked… it worked VERY well. I’ll include a link to the original recipe, but I’ll also post my variations here in the future.

You don’t need a lot for this recipe, though it did call for manually juicing 10 lemons, which is a LOT of work if you don’t have an automatic juicer. Still, the flavor was excellent, so it might be worth the investment in a small counter-top juicing machine if you want that fresh flavor.

As a follow-up to this experiment, I will try creating the same recipe soon using store-bought lemon juice, and also see if a limeade version works out. My only other thought is: this stuff is pretty potent, so I watered it down a bit after I made the initial batch, and it still ended up with really strong flavor.

At any rate, I considered this first experiment a success and I encourage you to give it a try if you like strawberry lemonades. Any I apologize in advance that the picture I have for this isn’t super attractive. I took it right before bed and not in a really fancy setting, but frankly, I was less worried about presentation than just making a good drink. Mission accomplished!

The presentation might not be the greatest, but the flavor is fantastic!

Link to original recipe: http://lifeispoppin.com/strawberry-lemonade-just-like-red-robin/