Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Adagio Teas, Cara McGee, and the Fandom Tea Blend Revolution

Adagio Teas was founded in 1999 as a marketplace for organic and Fair Trade tea blends which are purchased directly from their growers.  One of their major offerings is an area of the site where you can create your own tea blends (they suggest that users "practice the ancient art of tea blending").  Essentially, the site allows users to find the flavor that they as an individual like the best.  Once a blend has been created, the user can purchase a 3 oz bag of tea for ten dollars and have it shipped to them for their personal enjoyment.  Users can also make their blends public, and they will be offered on Adagio's site for others to purchase.  This is where the true story begins.

In late 2011 or early 2012, Cara McGee, an alum of SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design), started creating tea blends for herself based on the popular BBC show, Sherlock.  She made the tea blends available for purchase and displayed them on Tumblr, a popular short-form blogging and social-media site.  Tumblr gave Cara an avenue to show off her tea blends to people who would enjoy them, particularly other fans of Sherlock.  She never expected what happened next: the fans loved the tea blends.

The creation of these tea blends is creative in that it connects people to their interests in a way that had never really been done before.  Cara's blends actually "taste like" the characters and scenes she models them after--something which takes a lot of time and practice to accomplish (and Cara has created hundreds of these blends).  The fandom blends also unite the fans in ways that had never been seen before; people from coast to coast (and even some areas overseas) can experience the physical creations of other people who love the same things that they do without paying a premium for the opportunity.

Throughout the next few months, Tumblr seemed to explode over this new method of fandom expression.  Cara and other fans and artists created blends based on their respective interests and made them publicly available on Adagio's website.  Currently, there are tea blends available for almost any fandom or interest imaginable, from Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter to Breaking Bad, personality types, and dinosaurs.

Cara has, since the creation of her first tea blends, entered the echelons of the "Tumblr famous".  Hundreds of thousands of people follow her blog, and despite her slight discomfort over that fact, she manages to be an absolutely charming and delightful individual.  She has made herself available to other fans in a way that is absolutely incredible.  She not only greets fans at the many comic and entertainment conventions around the country; she also hosts tea parties in the cities near those conventions for those who either cannot afford the cost of attending or cannot handle the large crowds and long lines.  These people can now attend tea parties at smaller venues; I actually met her last year when she came to Chicago for C2E2 in late April (she hosted a tea party at the Adagio store on State Street).


With her degree in comic art, Cara designs the labels for her tea blends as well as scripting and drawing original comic books.  Her day job is as an interior design librarian.  Cara hopes to work professionally as a comic artist; however, the current economy is making this goal difficult.  In the mean time, she attends conventions in order to network with both fans and possible future employers.  Cara's personal blog, areyoutryingtodeduceme on Tumblr, is where she communicates with her own fans about upcoming tea blends she's releasing, art she's creating, or conventions she's attending, as well as pursuing her own interests in fandom.  Cara is an excellent example of little-c creativity: she is still tinkering in her chosen domain of comic art, learning where she fits into the professional world and trying to combine her passions with her work in a fulfilling way.


Any questions about tea blending? Cara herself may address some of them here: http://areyoutryingtodeduceme.tumblr.com/post/23526961918/a-really-dumb-blending-tutorial
Also, as a note, loose-leaf tea is much better than bagged tea. Trust me. And, best part, ALL OF THE PICTURES ABOVE WITH BLENDS ON THEM ARE CLICKABLE. GO. TRY THE TEA.
Finally, Adagio has excellent customer service who can address any questions you might have about their tea, creating your own blends, and the work they do to ensure that they can continue to carry a high-quality product while helping those who produce it. Visit http://www.adagio.com/  for more information.

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