My Inaugural Japanese Sencha

Adagio Sencha Overture Tea Review

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President Obama’s second inauguration, and a day off from work — what to do? Try a new tea, that’s what.

I’ve heard lots of good things about Japanese green tea, so I decided to initiate myself with a sample of Sencha Overture from Adagio Teas. Green tea (this one in particular) is delicate and must be brewed at a lower temperature than black tea. Sometimes a little trial and error is necessary to find the optimal temperature.

In my first attempt, I steeped the loose tea leaves in 170°F water for two minutes, as recommended on the packaging. The result was too bitter for my taste, so I did some research.

I found instructions on a website dedicated to Japanese tea which suggested brewing in 158°F water for one minute. By the way, I boiled the water, poured it into a Pyrex measuring cup, stuck a meat thermometer in it, and waited until the water cooled down to the right temperature before adding it to the tea leaves. Success!

This brew, light green in color, has a heartier texture than I expected, yet it delivers a fairly clean finish. Its strong aroma can be likened to freshly cut grass or seaweed. If you want bitterness, steep a little longer or at a higher temperature like I did the first time.

Aroma: Freshly cut grass, seaweed
Body: Light to medium
Flavor: Sour, sweet, and bitter
Color: Light green; tea becomes cloudy after a minute or so

The Subtlety of Stash English Breakfast

Stash English Breakfast - Black Tea

Stash English Breakfast features an interesting blend of teas: Ceylon, Assam, Nilgiri, and Keemun. A smoky Chinese black tea, Keemun once defined English tea until being surpassed in popularity by Assam, a malty Indian tea.

If it’s a bolder tea you expect — think Tazo Awake or PG Tips — you will be disappointed. I would describe this tea as subtle and smooth. I can taste the smoky Keemun, detect the malty Assam, and maybe even a little of that bright Ceylon (I haven’t a clue what Nilgiri tastes or smells like), none of which are pronounced. Five minutes of brewing doesn’t produce any bitterness.

Aroma: Smoke and citrus
Body: Medium
Flavor: Mild and smooth with a medium level of astrigency
Color: Medium amber

Full English Breakfast, Deep in my Heart … and Arteries

Should you ever find yourself in Austin, Texas with a particular craving for British bangers, back bacon, fried eggs, fried bread, roasted tomatoes, and mushrooms, you’re in luck. Yes, there’s a place that serves the aforementioned in addition to tea and other British foods, and it’s called Full English Cafe. Though difficult to spot, this tiny place just off Manchaca Rd. (on Southern Oaks Dr.) is worth the search.

High Tea

Besides upscale hotels and restaurants, there a few places to enjoy afternoon tea in the United States. Full English Cafe fills this void successfully, offering High Tea (really afternoon tea unless you’re stoned, of course) almost any time of day in a cozy, relaxed atmosphere. For a reasonable price, you get a tiered tray full of made-from-scratch sandwiches, scones, cakes, and biscuits (cookies) served with a pot of tea or coffee.

Full English Breakfast

Full English Cafe offers three versions of English breakfast, which vary in measure and quality (free-range vs non-free-range eggs and meats). Made in-house, the bangers contain locally sourced pork.

For those days when the Big British Breakfast isn’t big enough, you can add more bangers, bacon, eggs, cheese, salad, bread, tomatoes, mushrooms, and even Heinz beans — all available as side items.

Round out your English breakfast with an English-style pancake — thinner than its American counterpart, pan sized, and traditionally topped with lemon and sugar. If you need a more compact breakfast, try one of the Full English Cafe’s breakfast sandwiches, served on bread from Sweetish Hill bakery.

Order off the ‘On Toast’ portion of the menu for a lighter breakfast or snack. On toast options include two fried eggs, butter and marmalade, and of course Heinz beans, the perfect catalyst for extra wind at your back.


A great place to enjoy a proper cuppa with your friends or solo, Full English Cafe features some British household staples from across the pond as well as some local Austin blends from Zhi Tea. Order PG Tips, Tetley, or Twinings English Breakfast by the cup or pot.

Other brand-name teas available include Lipton Yellow Label and Brooke Bond Red Label. Chai latte (hot or cold) and Austin Breakfast, Dragonwell Green, and Ginger Peach Oolong from Zhi round out the tea menu.

Other British Foods

Full English Cafe serves supper on Friday and Saturday night. The supper menu is a surprise and may include shepherd’s/cottage pie, bangers and mash, various pasties, and sausage rolls.

It’s hard to do this place full justice in a blog post. Just visit and see for yourself. Cheers.

Adagio Rooibos Review

Adagio Rooibos (Redbush) Tea

A common complaint about rooibos (pronounced roy-boss or roy-bus and otherwise known as red bush or red tea) is that it has a medicinal flavor/aroma; that was my initial assessment too. A few cups later, however, and I was seduced by its gentle, sweet, refreshing flavor. Rooibos comes from a South African plant and, like tea, can be produced as green (minimally oxidized) or red (oxidized). It’s caffeine free and rich in antioxidants.

For this review, I tried a sample of plain, loose leaf Rooibos from the online tea merchant, Adagio ( Preparation involved placing the leaves in a teapot, covering them with boiling water, and steeping for five minutes.

I detect a few scents in Adagio rooibos’ strong, sweet aroma: earthiness, menthol, marijuana (being consumed), apples, and vanilla. It offers a sweet taste with a smooth finish. A little squirt of lemon complements this rooibos very well.

Aroma (brewed): Sweet, earthy, menthol, vanilla, apples, burning marijuana
Body: Medium
Flavor: Sweet and smooth with little astringency
Color: Reddish Amber