Simple Loose Leaf

Recent Tasting Notes

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I’ll admit that I’m partial to blueberry teas, but like all fruit flavored teas they can be really hit or miss. More often than not they taste nothing like the fruit they claim to be, but the Blueberry White from the August box is one of the few exceptions, it really tastes like blueberry. The blueberry flavor manages to capture the sweet and tart flavors of blueberry without drowning out the strong flavor of the Shou Mei White Tea that is used for the base. With most flavored white teas you’ll taste the flavor first and the base second (or not at all,) but with this tea the strong earthy flavors from the Shou Mei really shine. It’s a refreshing change from the norm, but I would have preferred just a bit more blueberry flavor.

You can read the full review on my blog:
http://www.notstarvingyet.com/index/2014/8/19/tuesday-tea-august-selection-club-simple-loose-leaf.html

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Cheri

I got this one but I haven’t tried it yet. I’m looking forward to it.

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89

Once steeped this tea has a flavor much like I remember from my previous encounter with it. It has a buttery texture, which is partially due to the milk flavoring that has been added. Underneath this is a slightly floral flavor that edges towards peaches and cream once you steep it a second time. Later steeps take on a slightly vegetal flavor that increases with each subsequent steeping. I don’t typically enjoy this tea once the sweetness disappears so I only steep it three times. You certainly could continue to resteep it if you still enjoy the flavors, this tea resteeps very well. Overall this is a really nice milk oolong, one that I would certainly order again if Simple Loose Leaf had a convenient way for me to reorder the teas I’ve enjoyed from the Selection Club.

You can read the complete review on my blog:
http://www.notstarvingyet.com/index/2014/8/19/tuesday-tea-august-selection-club-simple-loose-leaf.html

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Drinking this cold steeped tonight. It’s ok, it’s good. The peach flavor is nice, not fake and candy – I just wish there was a little more of it. The white base is fine, present but not in the way. This is a decent peach white tea. I have a LOT of peach teas in my house and this one is good but not my favorite.

On that note, drinking the last of this puts my cupboard officially at 299. Goodbye 300s, nice to know you, but don’t ever want this much tea in my house again. Operation cupboard reduction continues…..

TheTeaFairy

Yay! Keep it up :-)

Sil

Woohooo! Now, because I’m nice…I won’t send you your box now that you’re under 300 lol

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80

This was a nice green, not a personal favorite of mine, but definitely nice. The leaves are a bit unconventional for a green, taking on an “eyebrow” shape and being such a dark color it almost resembles a mild black tea. It brews a nice golden color and delivers a rich flavor. Refreshing as it hits the tongue with a fruity foretaste and then smoothly transitioning into a mildly bitter and astringent aftertaste that is a telltale sign of any green worth its salt. I enjoyed this green and it would make a wonderful base for a blend.

**Note: i drank this iced because I live in California and it’s summer.

Preparation
Iced

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86

Last night was a good night. I did a lot of reading, I watched the live stream of the Hugo Awards (OMG, so happy that Ann Leckie and Kameron Hurley and Sofia Samatar won awards. And the magazine that I read slush for, Lightspeed, won a Hugo too! I bask in their reflected glory!)

I talked to my sister, tidied up my office, and then went to bed sometime around half past 11.

This meant that when I woke up this morning, I was full of sleepy blerg. The shower helped some, but as I was heading down to the kitchen to make breakfast, I was totally struggling over what to brew.

Then it hit me: I really just want some plain old black tea. And I LOVED this when I first had it a week ago. So into the pot it went.

I steeped it for a tad too long this time, so it’s slightly astringent, but yeah, I don’t regret brewing this. Such a wonderful malty, fruity flavour. I really need to try more ceylons, because if they’re similar to this, I think I’m in love.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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Happy Sunday, everyone! It’s time for another Sunday Tea and Books review.

The Tea

Jasmine Special Grade Green was part of Simple Loose Leaf’s August subscription box. I ended up getting a sample of this in the July box, and then unexpectedly got the August box for free. When I told Simple Loose Leaf this, they said that they hadn’t meant to send it out, but that they’ve enjoyed my ST&B reviews so much that I should just consider it to be a thank-you box. Awesome!

When I first opened up the package, the smell of jasmine was unmistakable, but the smell of the green base underneath was unusual. It smelled sort of smoky and leathery, but I really couldn’t put my finger on it.

The resulting tea is similar. The jasmine is very strong, but still somewhat sweet. I was initially worried that I had overleafed it somewhat. I think that because of the strength of the jasmine flavour, this tea would benefit more from a 2-minute steep than a 3-minute steep, because at 3 minutes the resulting liquor was dark and intense.

All throughout, I wished that I could get a better sense of what the base tea was. Neither Simple Loose Leaf nor Maya Tea Company (which I’m assuming is the source supplier for this tea because the photo and the description of this tea is the same on both sites) mention the base cultivar/variety for this tea, which means that I feel I’m lacking some context in order to fully appreciate it.

Despite this, it is still a decent jasmine tea. It edges towards the Wall of Overwhelming Jasmine flavour that I worry I will sometimes experience with jasmine teas, but it stops just short of that unpalatable threshold.

I drank most of this while sitting at the little patio table on the front porch of the house. The weather dallied back and forth between being sunny and cloudy. I just sipped, read a book, and watched my cats wander around the front yard. All in all, it was a nice, contemplative tea session.

The Book

So what fictional character does this tea remind me of? This is a tea with a distinctive flavour, but with origins that are somewhat murky. Despite this lack of context, it has a lot of potential for future enjoyment, as I find there’s always something soothing about drinking jasmine tea.

Hm…a character whose origins are unknown, but who has the power to do great things. A character, in fact, whose destiny hinges on the fact that they don’t know their origins, their history, their parents.

This tea makes me think of Taran from Alexander Lloyd’s Chronicles of Prydain series. Although I haven’t read the books myself, thanks to Wikipedia I am an unrepentant devourer of spoilers, and I know that by the end of the series, Taran, despite being an orphan, becomes the High King of Prydain. In fact, his ascension is ordained by prophecy, as it’s stated that only one with “no station in life” would be able to succeed the current dynasty to rule after their passing.

He seems like the perfect character to match to a tea with similarly unknown provenance that is memorable in spite of that lack of info.

EDIT: I did a second steep for 2 minutes, and the result was still very strongly jasmine flavoured. I have to admit that by the end of the second pot of tea, I felt that I had reached my Jasmine Quota for the day.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML
Sil

awe…i loved those books growing up

Cheri

I thought this one was pretty good, but did much better on later infusions so the jasmine calmed down some.

Christina

Yeah, I really should resteep this one to see. I’ll update the note soon.

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88

Backlog:

Let me start by apologizing for the photo. It looks terribly distorted. If you check out my full-length review of this tea, you’ll see a slightly better version of the photo of the tea: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/05/17/darjeeling-second-flush-black-tea-from-simple-loose-leaf/ (Even though the photo is kind of small)

Anyway … on to the tea!

My preference for Darjeeling tends to be the second flush so I was happy to see that this was a second flush Darjeeling in Simple Loose Leaf’s May Selection Club box. I prefer the second flush because it usually has more muscatel-ish notes and they make me happy. That said, I would like to say that I’ve tried some amazing first flush Darjeeling teas from this year’s harvests that have made me happy also.

But, I’m not talking about those right now, right now, I’m talking about this Second Flush Darjeeling from Simple Loose Leaf, and this tea made me quite happy. A lovely, well-rounded taste with lots of fruity notes. Lovely muscatel. Woodsy, earthy layers of flavor.

Smooth, uplifting, grape-y notes that transform into a black currant flavor toward the finish. Sweet! A slightly tangy finish but far less astringent than some Darjeelings that I’ve encountered. This is more smooth … with what I’d call a moderate dry astringency.

A fine Darjeeling.

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92

Backlog:

for a white tea, this tea really took me by surprise at just how flavorful it was! Wow! This packs the peach flavor! But even though it’s a strong peach flavor, the white tea is still there. I can taste the sweet, earthy notes of the Shou Mei.

It’s not a fake tasting peach flavor. When consumed warm, the flavor reminds me of the peach filling of a peach cobbler (without the spice!) When iced (you’ve got to try this one iced!) it tastes so much like a fresh, tree-ripened peach that I could almost feel the juice running down my arm.

A WINNER!

Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/05/12/sweet-peach-white-tea-blend-simple-loose-leaf/

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88

Backlog:

This was in my May Selection Club box from Simple Loose Leaf. The aroma is vegetal, sweet and flowery. The fragrance was certainly familiar as I’ve had quite a few Sencha teas, but the gentle floral fragrance was unexpected and nice to discover.

Sweet green tea notes. The vegetal notes are sweet – not savory, not bitter, not even bittersweet. Just beautifully sweet with a soft, smooth texture. Like liquefied silk.

It has a strong vegetal flavor, like something between grass and kelp, but without the savory notes that often accompany those two descriptive flavors. There is also a layer of fruit note, similar to apple with a creaminess that I’d describe as a vanilla-ish note. Nice!

Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/05/06/japanese-sencha-saga-green-tea-simple-loose-leaf/

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72

Sipdown (123/130)!

Thank you Cameron B. for the sample! I’ve only had one other Ginseng Oolong prior to this one, so I was definitely excited about the opportunity to try another one and compare. Additionally, I believe this is my first Simple Loose Leaf blend, so that’s kinda exciting too.

This was prepped in my timolino and steeped very carefully; I did not want to burn the leaves. At work, I shared some of this with Bobbi and she made a face; not her cup of tea I suppose (awful pun somewhat intended). Personally, I didn’t think it was awful. Certainly it was drinkable; however somewhat to my surprise I think I liked the DT version better – that one just seems like it was more flavourful overall.

And additionally, I think this one took advantage of a green base oolong, and I’m not so heavily a green tea or green oolong person, so I suppose that contributed to not enjoying this as much. I mean, the ginseng was sweet, natural and relatively woody and that was good – but the base just wasn’t as agreeable to me.

Oh well. I’m still glad for the comparison, and like I said this was not bad; just not as good.

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Sipdown!

I overleafed this slightly to get rid of the remainder that I had, and it didn’t affect the taste negatively. This time I’m having it hot, without sweetener, and it seems to me that the jasmine flavour is much more apparent now – the plummy, rosy flavour of the tea doesn’t come to the fore as much.

This is not a big deal, though. I’ve found it hard to engage with white teas, so I’m just happy to have another sipdown under my belt.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Cheri

I haven’t tried this one hot yet. I’ve been missing the jasmine in my cold brews, and I even though about adding more jasmine to it. I should probably try it hot.

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86

I think I’m just going to make the Sunday Tea and Books thing a Steepster-only thing, and get rid of it from my blog.

The Tea

So today’s Sunday Tea and Books tea is Kenilworth Ceylon Black from Simple Loose Leaf. I’ve probably had Ceylon tea in blends, unknowingly, but I’ve never had one by itself before.

The smell was so nice when I opened the package – just a really comforting, fruity smell. It reminds me yet again of my mother’s avowed preference for “plain old Orange Pekoe” whenever I make tea. This smells like a plain old Orange Pekoe (though not so drab). Fruity, sweet… just… tea-y. I can’t really describe it otherwise.

I let the pot sit for 4 minutes and was greeted with a nice deep red brew that smelled fruity and bready and just…Orange Pekoe-y. Considering the past few days have been hectic in a good way, I think I made a good choice to go with a tea that seems fairly old-school. Something to lean on and relax against. Something warm and furry and comforting.

The Book

So, I’m cheating here a little bit today, because the character that this tea makes me think of is not technically from a book. Instead, he’s from a now-in-reruns webcomic that I absolutely LOVED called “Little Dee”.

http://www.littedee.net

Here’s the story: Dee is a little girl lost in the woods. She’s rescued by three animals living in the woods – a bear, a dog, and a vulture – and the four of them live in a cave together. The trick is that the animals can talk and are all quite mature with developed personalities, while Dee, the human, is mute. There’s Ted, the bear, a gentle paternal figure who cooks and leads the cave. There’s Blake, the runaway dog, who is loving but rather dim. And finally there’s Vachel, the smart-ass, caustic vulture.

This tea is definitely a Ted: warm, caring, fuzzy, big…just relaxing, and comfortable to hold onto.

Here are a few of my favourite Little Dee strips involving Ted:

http://www.littledee.net/?p=4915
http://www.littledee.net/?p=817
http://www.littledee.net/?p=851
http://www.littledee.net/?p=855
http://www.littledee.net/?p=2213

Warning: I claim no responsibility if you decide to check out the rest of the Little Dee archives and become completely charmed. I totally will not be responsible for you finding out about this absolute gem of a comic strip. :-D

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML
Cheri

Cheater!! No, I love it. I love these tea and book reviews. (I know I’ve told you this before.)

Christina

Heh, yup, you’ve mentioned it before. I’m glad! I have to admit that this tea didn’t taste as good on the re-steep, though.

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85

Man, today was a busy day today.

I got up early to go to a small business networking event, and spent about 6 1/2 hours there, talking to people, attending seminars, and so forth. Got up a little after 6, left the house around 8, got there just before 9, didn’t leave until 3:30. Lots of chatting, exchanging business cards, visiting the trade show floor, etc.

The nice thing is that the hotel that hosted the event is one I’ve been to before, and that it connects to a small suburban mall.

The really nice thing? This mall contains a shop that smells gaiwans and other teaware for really good prices. There’s a little old Chinese lady there who will wrap everything up super-tight so that it won’t move around, and her prices are ridiculously low. Remember how back in April, I was so proud of this little pink gaiwan that I bought, and that I immediately chipped the lid for it once I got home? That was where I bought the gaiwan – for only $10, about half of what I’ve seen it advertised for online.

Knowing that the shop was there, I went and asked her if I could buy just a replacement lid, but she said no (unfortunately, though I do understand since everything breaks easily).

However, I did get these two absolutely adorable little blue and white cups. Here’s a photo!

http://christinavasilevski.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/blue_tea_cups-e1407625247992.jpg

Once I came home I figured I would have this tea to relax, since I liked it so much when I first tried it last week.

However, I think I might have overleafed it, as it seems more astringent and vegetal than I remember, without that stonefruit taste that I loved so much the first time around.

By the way, those cups? Remember that little teaware store I mentioned? I got both of those for a whole dollar. Pretty good deal for a loonie, I think.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML
Nicole

Cute cups!

Cheri

I wish there was a shop like that here.

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76

This is a pretty decent jasmine green. I love jasmine green tea, but I haven’t had it in a while.

It’s quite jasminey and a little bit astringent. I can’t taste enough of the green, though, but maybe another infusion will help with that. (I did say somewhere I’m guilty of resteeping my teas to death….)

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80

A classic tea, jasmine green teas have been sipping in China for an exceptionally long time, far longer than I have been sipping tea (see, I am not a time traveler, I swear) and it just might be a lot of people in the West’s first encounter with green tea. The aroma if this particular jasmine green is quite heady and sweet, it does not have the perfume aroma that some jasmine teas have, instead it has the aroma of fresh jasmine flowers in bloom. Surprisingly there is no aroma of the base green tea at all, the same goes for the brewed leaves. The liquid sans leaves is honey sweet with jasmine headiness and a delicate hint of fresh vegetation.

The first steep is surprisingly sweet, like flower nectar and sugar, there is also a nice heady taste of jasmine that permeates throughout the entire sipping experience. At the end of the taste and into the aftertaste there is a fairly delicate fresh vegetation taste, there is no bitterness at all.

For the second steep the aroma is very jasmine heavy, the fresh vegetation aroma from previously is still present, but it is stronger. The taste starts out sweet and jasmine heavy, this transitions to slightly smoky green, like fresh vegetation and spinach. The smoke is barely present, like a tiny whiff of a distant fire. Again, the tea is mild and not at all bitter. I am always fan of jasmine teas that are not overwhelming.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/08/simple-loose-leaf-august-subscription_8.html

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