Simple Loose Leaf
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Recent Tasting Notes
Oh man, I love blueberries so much, they might be my favorite fruit and they are certainly my favorite fruity additive to various things. This particular tea is a blend of Shou Mei White Tea, Blueberries, Blueberry Flavor, and Cornflowers for a very intensely blueberry tea. When I opened the package I was greeted with a potent blueberry aroma similar to blueberry jam, it is intensely sweet. Under this strong blueberry aroma there is a nice leafy green, like fresh vegetation and lettuce. Brewing the tea turns my tea lair into a blueberry lair! It is sweet and fruity with a gentle hint of vegetation, the liquid without its leafy friends is essentially the same, but with an extra honey sweetness.
The taste is surprisingly gentle and delicate, I was expecting an explosion of blueberries, instead we have a gentle caress of Shou Mei. The taste starts out a blend of fresh vegetation, lettuce, and a touch of earthiness. This transitions to slightly peppery blueberries, but it is like someone squeezed some blueberry juice in my white tea, or I just ate blueberries and then drank some white tea. As the tea chills it takes on a bit of a sage taste to it which goes really well with the blueberries. Absolutely yum!
I’ve only had one variant of Earl Grey ever and that was Teavana’s Earl Grey Creme a couple years back. And the only vanilla tea I’ve drunk was from Bigelow . This one smells soooo good. Vanilla works incredibly well with bergamot. I smelled the leaves while they were steeping and thought, “I could go for some vanilla cupcakes now.” First I drank the tea straight. I tasted the base tea – malty, astringent – and bergamot flavoring more than the vanilla, which takes over in the aftertaste. With milk and sugar, the malt and bergamot disappear, so it’s like drinking plain vanilla-flavored tea. I like this tea both ways, but I just love the vanilla more. I need to save this for autumn. It’d be even more comforting then.
From the August Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club
This one is a moderate to high flavored bergamont earl grey that is on the sweet side. I like the Nilgiri base as it adds a nice bold flavor with a smooth texture. Lady Earl Grey finishes with a sweet citrus cream note and a light astringency. I wished there was more creamy in this blend, but the wonderful base kind of makes up for it. I thought this was too pungently bergamont to be labelled Lady Earl grey, but as an earl grey it’s pretty good (for heavy bergamont lovers).
Full review of this tea (and the rest of my August Simple Loose Leaf box) on my blog, The Oolong Owl. http://oolongowl.com/august-simple-loose-leaf-selection-club/
Mmm blueberries. I’m too dangerous to be around blueberries as I eat them all! HAHA!
Anyways – for the August Box of Simple Loose Leaf Selection club I chose this tea – Blueberry White, a shou mei white. The dry leaf is pretty big leafed and twiggy – very hard to measure so I suggest using a scale.
The flavor leans a lot to the shou mei – which has a strong juicy fruity flavor. The blueberry comes out a little at first sip and aftertaste, so just a twist on a strong cup of white tea. I’d personally like more blueberry, but the white tea is pretty good.
Full review of this tea (and the rest of my August Simple Loose Leaf box) on my blog, The Oolong Owl. http://oolongowl.com/august-simple-loose-leaf-selection-club/
First Sip Thought: “The taste is just like the smell!”
Smell: I always love when you get tea in the mail and can already smell it when you haven’t even opened the package yet. This tea is just like that. It smells fresh – like laying under a blooming peach tree on a warm summer day.
Taste: Have you ever had a tea that smelt too good to be true and it was just that – tasted horrible? Sweet Peach White is nothing like that. As my first sip thought states, I was delighted to find out that taste wasn’t deceiving from the smell. This white tea is fresh and light – a nice twist on their Shou Mei White Tea. The perfect balance of sweet and fruity. If you were to add sugar it kind of resembles a “fuzzy peach” taste. I especially enjoy the freeze-dried peaches addition to the blend. I feel like that makes this blend juicy and it’s nice to have the actual thing rather than only a flavouring. I indulged in this tea hot, and frozen as a popsicle. I’ll have to share my popsicle recipe shortly as this tea was the perfect base for it because of the natural sweetness. For now, I’m going to test my patience and try to cold-steep this tea overnight because I have a feeling it’ll be amazing!
Backlog from this morning.
I think this tea benefits from a slightly lower steeping temperature than indicated. The first time I tried it I think I used 80C, and it had this lovely green flavour with a strong impression of stonefruit. However, both times since, I’ve used 82C water and it’s been markedly astringent.
I find it hard to believe that 2 degrees C could make that much difference, but it appears to be true.
People, I’ve had a long day. I don’t have much interesting to say, but at least there’s always tea.
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!
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.
Today, I’ve decided to just do the Sunday Tea and Books on Steepster only instead of my blog, because my most recent blog post (non-tea-related) is getting a lot of traffic and I don’t want to bury it.
When I first opened the bag of dried leaf to get a sniff, I couldn’t wait to brew it up. The leaves were a dark sage green, slightly powdery, and smelled intensely of berries. It even smelled a bit leathery – together, I really thought of those fruit leather strips, like SunRype, that you can get at the grocery. For a minute there, I thought I had been given a black tea by mistake, the smell was so different.
Brewed up, the smell and taste were quite similar. Complex, a bit smoky, but also intensely sweet and fruity. Above all else, I thought of stonefruits – apricot in particular. The mouthfeel was great, too – not to thick, not too thin, not brothy or soupy, but not insubstantial. As I proceeded through the teapot, the tea became astringent, but I was able to handle it.
I steeped it twice, actually. The first time for 4 minutes (I wasn’t watching the clock and let it go) and the second time for 3. The first steep was a bit strong, the second steep a bit weak, so I’m thinking that 3.5 minutes is the sweet spot. Both steeps were a beautiful peachy rosy colour.
The fact that the tea was so immensely fruity, and so reminiscent of stone fruits in particular, made me think back to a specific character in classical mythology – Pomona, a wood nymph whose special domain was fruit trees and orchards.
I have a fondness for the Pomona and Vertumnus myth in The Metamorphoses because Pomona seems to have a greater level of independence than other women in classical myth. Importantly, although she spurns many lovers, she isn’t punished for it. At most, the man who loves her most, Vertumnus, makes an impassioned speech that she shouldn’t be alone, and at the end transforms infront of her eyes, the sudden beauty and impact of which finally overcomes her heart. It’s not perfect – yeah, it’s heteronormative and the guy still gets the girl in the end – but at least she’s not turned into a woodpecker or a tree or what-have-you for the gall of not immediately yielding to amorous advances.
Here’s a special taste of the section of The Metamorphoses that introduces her. This translation was by Horace Gregory:
In Procas reign there lived a nymph, Pomona,
Who literally bloomed at raising flowers;
She had a “green touch” and made fruit trees bear.
That’s how she got her name, but was indifferent
To other trees or how bright rivers ran.
Her one delight was tending fields and orchards;
She never went out hunting, but instead
Held a curved knife in hand which trimmed rough hedges,
Rose-bush or cherry — or a clever twist
Would save a fruitless tree and pierce for grafting
An aged trunk to make large apples grow.
Flavors: Apricot, Fruity, Leather, Smoke
I made a big pitcher of this iced – about 16 tsp of leaf to 1 L of boiling water, steeped for 3-4 minutes, with the remainder then topped off with cold water, ice, and a bit of agave nectar.
This pitcher is really earthy and the taste of coconut is more prominent than the fruit flavours. I will probably add more sweetener as I go to make the fruit/coconut flavours stand out over the pu’er ones. But I don’t mind too much.
Backlog from last night.
I tried this tea yesterday as part of my Sunday Tea and Books series. When I got this as part of my June subscription box, I got two large envelopes – so much that I figured I’d never finish it all and placed one of the two unopened envelopes into the GCTTB3.
How much I regret it now! This makes a great iced tea.
I’m still fairly new to pu’er teas, and new to pu’er blends in particular. This one smelled really interesting to me, as the normally earthy, somewhat damp and leathery scent of the plain leaf was transformed by the addition of the flavoured ingredients. The aroma when I opened the bag of dry leaf was really sweet, smooth, and creamy – almost like peach-flavoured yogurt, or even cheesecake.
Both cold and hot, the flavour of the tea is very true to the scent of the leaf: creamy, fruity, and somewhat tart, like it’s had some sort of dairy added, even though it hasn’t. Underneath it all there’s the earthiness of the pu’er base. I know this is hard to describe, but given the tart, creamy smell of the tea, it feels like this one is playing a little joke on my tastebuds, doing the ol’ switcheroo. Dare I say that the tea is somewhat…puckish?
Well, if you like A Midsummer Nights Dream this tea might suit. The full Sunday Tea and Books post is here: http://christinavasilevski.com/2014/07/sunday-tea-books-puer-tahiti/
This is a really good English Breakfast. (Not all English Breakfast teas are the same, as I mentioned in my full-length review, here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/04/30/english-breakfast-black-tea-blend-simple-loose-leaf/ )
I like the addition of the “Chinese” tea here, I suspect it’s a Keemun because it has a wine-like note with a hint of smoke, which are characteristics that are common with Keemun teas.
Tart, fruity notes, earthy and malty. Nicely round with a good, robust, hearty character. It has some kick to it – enough of an edge to get someone going in the morning. Like I said, a really good English Breakfast!
I’m a genmaicha fan … I love the roasty-toasty flavor. Sweet, nutty and just YUM.
This one from Simple Loose Leaf is a very good gen mai cha. It’s exactly what I expect from a genmaicha: sweet and satisfying. A nice afternoon cuppa! I receive the monthly Selection Club service and I love it, and I was really happy that this tea was part of April’s box. (sigh! Yes, I’m that far behind.)
I like this one more than the Green Terrace Tea Milk Oolong sample I had but less than the Mandala Tea one. It had more milky, buttery flavor in the first steeping. By the 2nd steeping I was starting to get more vegetal flavor. I liked the first cup, it was creamy, mellow and not over powering. Glad I got to sample it since last box was my last box of a 3 month subscription.
Very pretty and colorful dry leaf. And it has such a powerful citrus nose – there are lots of chunks of lemon and lime! I thought that the tea itself would likewise be as strong, but, strangely, it wasn’t. I let the leaves steep 8 minutes when I hot-brewed. The rooibos at least tastes good, and citrus always works well with rooibos. But even though I can taste the citrus it’s underwhelming. Cold-brewed (2 tsp, 16 oz, 18 hours), it’s even weaker. Kind of medicine-like too (the flavors, not the rooibos). I prefer this one hot-brewed. A nice relaxing late-night tea.
The leaves are pretty and delicate. The dry leaf aroma is sweet and beany, and the color of the leaf is a muted slightly blueish green. Meanwhile, the wet leaf aroma is more vegetable and bitter, like a Japanese green, and the color of the leaf has become asparagus green, making these little eyebrows look like fresh vegetables, a little alive. Each infusion (1, 2, 3) yields a creamy and full-bodied liquor with notes of sweet uncooked beans. These notes don’t last long unfortunately – they turn somewhat flat after I let the liquor stay in my mouth for more than five or so seconds. But, with the finish, the transformation gets better. It tastes like cooked string beans and is a little astringent. Not a complex tea, but still enjoyable, especially on a mild summer day like today.
Eyebrow tea! This Chinese green tea is sometimes referred to as eyebrow tea because of its delicate curls, I have even seen this tea’s name translated to ‘silver fishhook eyebrow tea’ which sounds even more awesome. The aroma of these silvery curled leaves is fairly faint, but the notes I can detect with my sniffing are a touch of kelp, a hint of spinach, and a pinch of kale. The aroma is more vegetal and savory than sweet. After a nice little bath the aroma of the leaves is much stronger and still quite vegetal. The notes are kale, spinach, artichoke, and a hint of lemon at the finish.
The aroma of the first steep is pretty mild, a hint of citrus, vegetal, and a tiny bit of honey at the finish. The taste is quite mild as well, there is an interesting dryness to the mouthfeel, but there is not bitterness at all. In fact I would say it is quite smooth and refreshing with its notes of mild vegetal and hint of citrus.
Fir the second steep we get to really see what this green tea is about, and no surprise, it is about being green! The aroma is strongly vegetal, with strong notes of spinach and kale. The taste is buttery, like buttery cooked vegetables with a twist of citrus at the finish. There are also notes of spinach and asparagus, it is practically a vegetal party in my mouth. This is not the most complex green I have ever had, but it is certainly refreshing.
In the past I have had mixed experiences with Ginseng Oolong, usually I run into it as little green nuggets of oolong coated with a paste of ginseng dust. It is not bad but it has been far from my favorite way to sip oolong. I was so pleased when I saw this was just normal ol’ rolled oolong leaves. The aroma of the dry leaves is really sweet and a tiny bit toasted, it has notes of toasted bread, honey, orchids, and a touch of sesame. At the end of the sniff is a bit of an herbaceous zing, I can only assume it is from the ginseng. Once I give the leaves a good steeping in my gaiwan the aroma that wafts out is still really sweet, but also a lot more floral with notes of honeysuckle and orchid. There are also notes of honey, sesame seeds, and that same herbaceous greenness at the finish.
The aroma of the first steep is unsurprisingly quite sweet and a little creamy. The aroma is honestly like a milk oolong that has been roasted and given a nice sprinkling of ginseng. It smells delicious, I am not going to lie, my mouth is totally watering while waiting for the tea to cool enough to sip it. On first sip, well, I was right to have a watering mouth because this tea is delicious. It mixes the sweet honey, fresh floral, and gently toasted notes with a finish of ginseng. It is like nectar and herbs in one mouthful, ginseng is great, it has a gentle sweetness (like VERY mild licorice) a touch of hay, and an herbal taste. I really like it, as long as it is used in moderation.
The aroma of the second steep is much more floral, less creamy sweet, and more ‘nature’ with a touch of fresh vegetation and stems and a note of herbaceous. The taste takes its cues from t. The aroma, there is still honey sweetness, but it is very much so the honey sweetness of flower nectar. There are also the notes of roasted sesame seeds and fresh vegetation. The ginseng taste is a bit stronger this time as well, instead of being at the finish it shows up at the middle and lingers as an aftertaste. You can probably tell that I really liked this tea, but you all know me and my love of oolongs.
I brewed this two ways: hot-brewed via Western style and cold-brewed.
The dry leaf mostly smells of ginseng (at least I think it does – I have never had ginseng before but it would seem obvious considering), with floral and seaweed notes peaking out from underneath. First infusion (3 mins) produces a very lightly flavored liquor, but by the second infusion (4 mins), when the leaves are even more unrolled, the ginseng flavor, too unrolls. It’s quite strong. I’m not sure if I like ginseng; it’s a new taste for me, so it’s probably neutral at best for the time being. I like third infusion (5 mins) the most. The ginseng calms down, allowing itself to be balanced with the floral note. The tea tastes like an average lightly oxidized oolong but with something extra.
A cold-brew (2 tsp, 16 oz, ~14 hours) yields a much different liquor. Besides having the same ginseng and floral notes – both of which are in perfect balance and taste not too weak and not took strong – it is thick, buttery, full-bodied, and most refreshing.
Last up is the black tea hailing from Kenilworth Estate in Sri Lanka (or Ceylon if you are a bit old fashioned) the label on my tea package says this is bold and strong black tea, perfect for my breakfast tea. Fun fact about me, even though I can have many gongfu sessions during the day, my English roots show through with my first cup of a strong black tea, usually accompanied by loud music, today it was this tea and my Best of Queen collection. The aroma of the loose leaves is pretty rich with strong notes of malt and molasses, there are faint notes of roasted nuts and cherries, yum!
Pip pip, cheerio, and all that, the brewed tea smells quite delicious! With bold notes of malt, sweetness that is a mix of various dried fruits, molasses, and a nice brisk oak note at the finish, I was certainly woken up by the sniff! Upon the first sip I notice this tea has a nice dry mouthfeel and brisk taste, well if the sniffing did not wake me up, the tasting certainly did! This tea is robust, with strong notes of sweet molasses, malt, oak wood, cherries and a finish of pepper. Going full English and adding cream and sugar, the briskness is mostly replaced with boldness for a very smooth and strong cup of tea, an excellent wake up tea, but I expect nothing less from Kenilworth.
Flavors: Malt, Molasses, Oak wood