Fandom Tea Blend

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Designing fannish tea blends is a fanac that became popular circa 2012, [1] sparked by the existence of Adagio Teas, a commercial website that enables users to design and sell their own teas. Fandom teas can also be found on Etsy.

Adagio Teas

Adagio Teas is a commercial looseleaf tea company which gained popularity in fandom circles starting around 2012 due to their custom blend feature. Fans began to crowdsource fannish tea blends and promote them on sites such as Tumblr, often with custom artwork, and Adagio has added additional functionalities and FAQs to acknowledge that fans are a part of their market.

As of January 2022, there are over 160,000 fandom blends which can be searched by name, creator, fandom, tags, or teas. The site also provides popular blends, which may have custom banners to promote the blend. Fandoms vary widely and include anime and manga, video games, tv shows, movies, podcasts, tabletop rpgs, and more. Adagio had its own official Tumblr blog, Archived version which was mainly active from July 2012 through 2018.

The most common type of fannish tea blend appears to be a blend made for a specific character. This practice may be encouraged partly because Adagio allows you to 'ship' teas together, thus getting a discount if both tea blends are purchased in one order [2].

Cara McGhee's blends

Articles from 2012-2014 credit Cara McGhee with popularizing the practice due to her Sherlock tea blends, including NPR [3] and fan blogs [4]. Adagio's official Tumblr blog also gave Cara a specific highlight in one of their earliest posts [5].

Adagio's Business Model

A Mary Sue article from 2012 discussed the monetary aspect of fandom tea blends:

When I brought up the company’s “fandom blends” section to a relatively un-fannish friend, he remarked that the whole thing to him reeked of an effort to exploit the devotion many fanpeople have to the stories that touched them. And you have to admit, it’s a good business strategy: Combine emotional attachment with tasty liquid treats and make it all relatively cheap, and you’ve got yourself a keyed-in customer base. This friend made an intriguing case, but there are some fundamental ways in which I think there’s been a point that’s been missed...

[Snipped]

Fandom revolves around active, interested audiences; far from being about who is making what money, a seemingly silly thing like mixing different flavors of plants together and using the concoction as a means of personifying fictional characters and pairings we like? To those outside of fan communities I can see how it would seem distinctly odd. To me, it’s just another way that we bring the media we consume into our daily lives.

Yes, I’m a few dollars poorer after ordering my own pouch of “Reichenbach Recovery,” but I’m sure I would have found a Buffy the Vampire Slayer poster or a lifesize cutout of Danaerys Targaeryen to spend those few dollars on. This isn’t some shady CEO sitting in a dark empty boardroom trying to pin down which blends will best trap the fanfolk; like fan fiction, they’re fans just like us, letting themselves become in some small way a part of something really cultural, weird, and distinctly enjoyable. As Grossman wrote, “The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.”[6]

Other fans on Tumblr discussed their appreciation for Adagio's business model, with Adagio's official Tumblr responding a couple years after the original post was made and continuing the conversation with other fans:

[thegollux]

The incredible, welcoming way that Adagio Teas has reacted to their Fandom Invasion makes me want to buy tea from nowhere else ever again.

And I know it’s no skin off their nose - they earn goodwill, they sell more tea, they grow their own damn fanbase - but so many people and businesses look at fans with disdain, or with grudging tolerance, or as a group to be used without consideration for what makes them a group in the first place.

And in contrast Adagio threw open their doors. They learned enough (or already knew enough) about some of the individual fandoms to make in jokes - to “ship” the different tea blends and allow fanart labels and put 4 oz of tea in the 3oz TARDIS tea tin (BECAUSE IT’S BIGGER ON THE INSIDE, GUYS, THERE WAS ROOM FOR MORE TEA) and even set aside a whole huge section of their website purely dedicated to this new customer base.

And you know what? The smartest bit is: it works. And now, among my other fandoms, I am also an Adagio Fan.[7]

[adagioteas]

Aw, hey. Thanks for your support.

Tea has united people, and allowed them to connect with each other and their passions for thousands of years. We’re livin’ in some pretty unique times in this age, where our passions can and do build entire worlds that we can experience together.

Adagio is happy to keep on facilitating these modern connections, over a good old-fashioned cup of tea.[8]

[adrieunor]

seriously - Adagio has always had great customer support but their willingness to have fun with their website (you know, a site that sells tea) really bought me as a consumer. I didn’t intend to make a conscious decision to be a loyal customer, but I’ve really become one because they’ve been so awesome – there’s no sense of elitism; they just want people to have a good cuppa.[9]

Adagio also responded to fans requesting custom tea blends:

So, at Adagio, we don’t really participate in the crafting of the Fandom blends so much as we facilitate a space and medium for that creativity to happen.

If you don’t see a fandom covered, you can submit a request for it to be made here, or, you can try your hand at making it yourself here![10]


Some tea bloggers in 2017 were provided incentives (such as gift certificates or the teas requested to review) from Adagio Teas to sample fandom blends and provide reviews. The reviews were not all positive, due to the fact that the teas are fan-created. [11][12][13][14][15].

In 2018, a Twitter user accused Adagio's CEO of homophobia, transphobia, and labor law violations [16]. Adagio released a statement in response [17] (no longer available). Some fans discussed alternative custom blend sites to explore or support due to the accusations [18].

Making Adagio Tea Blends

Some fans have created tutorials on how to create a fandom blend using Adagio [19]. Other fans discuss how to promote fandom tea blends once they are created [20]

Other Sites

Example Tea Blends

Resources

References

  1. ^ Probably the most well-known fandom tea-blender, Cara McGhee, posted what appear to be her first Sherlock tea blends on February 13, 2012. [1]
  2. ^ Blend 'Ships, Archived version in the FAQ. The discount is 10% off if both blends in a 'ship are purchased together.
  3. ^ If TV's Your Cup Of Tea, Try A Character-Infused Blend, Archived version, Lydia Zuraw, April 29, 2013
  4. ^ Adagio Teas, Cara McGee, and the Fandom Tea Blend Revolution, Archived version, What's Creative? blogspot, February 4, 2014
  5. ^ Pressure, Archived version, adagioteas, July 6 2012. "After Cara shone a spotlight on our tumblr blog, there’s a lot of pressure to post something witty. You know, not counting this post."
  6. ^ The Fandom Tea Party: The Day the Long Arm of Pop-Culture Touched the West’s Classiest Beverage, Archived version, Alanna Bennett, Oct 12th, 2012
  7. ^ Tumblr post, Archived versionby thegollux, post made April 17, 2013. As of Jan 2022, the post has just over 1500 notes. Adagioteas replied in March 2016, and had further conversations over the following months with other fans in the notes.
  8. ^ Reply by adagioteas, Archived version
  9. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version by adrieunor, March 14 2016
  10. ^ [ Reply to a Tumblr ask], Archived version by adagioteas, April 13 2016
  11. ^ Adagio Teas: A Tea For Every Fandom, Archived version Just a Lil' Lost, May 20, 2017
  12. ^ Adagio Teas: Fandom Signature Blends, Archived version, crazyteachick, April 30, 2017
  13. ^ Review: Fandom Collection by Adagio Teas, Archived version by perfectlyperez, August 6 2017}
  14. ^ Adagio Teas offers fun flavors from all fandoms, blending delicious brews from Butterbeer to BB-8, Archived version Inside the Magic, June 9 2017
  15. ^ Blog: "Fancy a cuppa?" (Adagio teas review), Archived version blog post by foxclouds, Nov 15 2017
  16. ^ Twitter thread, Archived version by elliottjunkyard, April 2 2018
  17. ^ Tweet by adagioteas, April 3 2018, linking to a statement on their website (no longer available, unable to find on webarchive)
  18. ^ [ Twitter thread] by SimplyAllegra, April 2 2018
  19. ^ How I Make Fandom Tea Blends, Archived version, Tumblr post by fontscosplay, July 2 2013
  20. ^ Tumblr ask, Archived version sent to whyonlydream, June 20 2013, with suggestions on how to promote fandom teas