Black Tea Review: Adagio Ceylon Sonata

Ceylon Sonata

Company/Brand Name: Adagio

Name: Ceylon Sonata

Category: Black Tea

Form: Loose Leaf

Origin of the Leaf: Sri Lanka

The Leaves: Midnight black cut leaves, with patches of rusty dark-brown

Additions: None

Flavor: A balanced black tea with some astringency and an ever so slight citrusy flavor which is rounded off by a touch of toasty-smokiness

Overall: My first impression of the Ceylon Sonata was that it tasted a little weak, but after spending some quality time with this tea I found that I really started to enjoy it.

Tea Review:

At first, I was a bit perplexed by the flavor profile. There seemed to be a faint hint of fruitiness. But what really captured my attention was a tangy-bitter taste that seemed to linger on the tongue.

I noticed some astringency as well, feeling my mouth pucker slightly, as if I were eating a citrus fruit. That’s when it hit me, the tea tasted ever so slightly of lemon.

Complementing the citrusy flavor, I found a touch of toastiness. For whatever reason, that is the word that keeps coming to mind. Not malty or biscuity, but toasty.

After further examination, I had begun to realize that the toastiness I was experiencing was in fact, a subtle smokiness.

It’s not a Lapsang Souchong kind of smokiness, which conjures of images of roaring campfires with big billows of smoke rising into the air. The smoky flavor is more reminiscent of trying to cook toast with a match flame. Not that I’ve tried that lately!

An interesting image comes to mind when sipping on the Ceylon Sonata: I am sitting in a canoe out in the middle of a calm lake on a cold, brisk fall day. I can sense the chill in the air, but remain nice and toasty warm in my thermal outdoor wear. As I look across the lake, I see the vibrant colors of the turning leaves in the morning sun.

To me this imagery makes perfect sense, because the tangy-crispness of the tea is like the refreshing chilly, crisp air of fall. The vibrant colors of the trees, along with my layers of clothing, bring a sense of warmth to the picture, which captures the toasty-smoky flavor of the tea.

Adagio Sample Packaging


I ordered the sample size of this tea, which came in a foil-lined bag that was re-sealable.

Preparation Tips: 

I followed the instructions on the Adagio bag: 1 teaspoon per cup for 3-5 minutes at 212F, except that I made it a “heaping teaspoon” of tea.

I went straight for my one-serving, glass teapot this time. I didn’t even bother with the stainless steel, mesh ball infuser because it’s simply too small to give the leaves room to expand.

Additional Notes:

Infusions – I was able to get two infusions from the Ceylon Sonata. For the first infusion, I steeped the leaves for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then for the second infusion, I coaxed out whatever the leaves had left to give in a five minute steeping.

I Want This Tea!

If you’d like to purchase this tea, just click the link below. Enjoy!


Vendor Provided Sample: No 

Affiliate Links: No

Photo Credit: A Girl With Tea

This is “a girl with tea” signing off once again.

Remember to live, laugh, love and drink plenty of tea.


2 comments on “Black Tea Review: Adagio Ceylon Sonata

  1. Alex Zorach November 8, 2010 3:53 PM

    I have not tried this particular tea, but I’ve tried a lot of Ceylon teas, mostly black teas, but a few greens too.

    I am not a big fan of Ceylon black tea, although it is hugely variable in quality like any kind of tea. But, unlike black teas from a number of other regions (like Darjeeling, Assam, Keemun, or Yunnan Black), the vast majority of Ceylons that I’ve tried have been mediocre. Even Rishi Tea, which usually blows me away, failed to impress me with their ceylon single estate, the Ceylon black tea that I’ve most recently sampled. My favorite black Ceylon ever is not a single estate Ceylon but rather, a single-region blend: Nuwara Eliya BOP from Upton Tea Imports; interesting that it’s a broken-leaf tea and I still prefer it to other teas. I do tend to like the Nuwara Eliya region better than others, as its teas have a high-grown character that is, in some sense, vaguely reminiscent of some of the Himalayan (i.e. Darjeeling, Nepal, etc.) black teas.

    Ceylon green, on the other hand, is another story. I absolutely love it. My favorite Ceylon green ever was also one I ordered from Upton Tea Imports: Oliphant Estate OPA Green. Runner-up would also be Upton’s: Young Hyson, a familiar Chinese style (also known as “Lucky Dragon Tea”). I really liked it too, and it was fascinating to taste this style of tea produced in a different region. Even though it had a much larger leaf and was not at all smoky, it was definitely recognizable as true to the style, although I think I prefer the Chinese varieties as they have a hint of smokiness, which I like.

    • a girl with tea November 10, 2010 2:21 AM

      Thanks for sharing your great insight on Ceylon tea! I haven’t tried the Upton tea brand yet, but it sounds like Nuwara Eliya BOP is a winner. I will definitely give it try 🙂

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