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Recent Tasting Notes
Flowers floating in my tea;
Breathe refreshing mint.
The first “tea” of this month’s tea party with my mom.
The smell of the dried leaves was of mint and chamomile, but the strength of the mint was a bit worrisome to us. The instructions were a bit confounding—steep for 10 minutes? We opted for 4. The liquor was “peach” or “apricot”-colored as there was a tinge of warm orange-red. Our worry was revealed as unfounded as we drank the warm tea: it was a wonderful balance of mint and chamomile. They were definitely the stars of the show. There was a hint of the rooibos base, mostly enough to give the light tisane some body, and a sweetness that may be attributed to the vanilla? I thought so, but my mother disagreed. Though she’s always more sensitive to sweet notes than I.
A second steep of 6 minutes revealed a drinkable, but weak liquor.
I felt that this was a nice bedtime relaxing tea (and probably not the best way to start a day). Since I don’t often reach for tea in the evening, I left the rest of this sample with my mom for the $1.90 I owed her.
Thanks to SLL for this sample! Omg, my first full-strength lapsang! Woo! This is a tea that I would not have understood or had the palate for a couple of years ago. It would probably have been dumped down the drain….the horror! I can’t believe it, but I actually really like it!
This tea is a super clean, smooth, and sweet wood smoke black tea. I added milk and sugar, which I normally do when I brew black teas western-style and it was yummy. The smoke lingers in your mouth and I think it would be great paired with complimentary food….it would add a fresh smoke taste to whatever you’re eating. Mmmm! I’m a convert!
Thanks for this sample, SLL! I’ve had lemon grass in blends before, but not straight. This is simply lemon grass. Simple can be good. This tea is really really yellow when you brew it up.
It’s essentially a sweet lemon tea with some nose clearing properties. Very simple, but nice. I can imagine this would be delicious iced in the summer! Fortunately I have more leaf, so I will be trying that! :)
Thanks for the sample, SLL! I’ve never tried a gyokuro before and I’m not a big green tea drinker, but hey, I’ll try anything once! I feel like maybe I’ve heard that gyokuro is kind of a fancy, high society tea. The description says it is exceptional, so I might be right!
The dry leaf is a very vibrant green color and chopped up like confetti. It smells nutty and buttery, like a pastry! Actually, it smells just like shortbread cookies! Yum!
The recommended steeping parameters call for a water temperature between 120 and 140 degrees F, but it turns out my kettle won’t set below 140F. Fortunately, it will display the temperature as it gradually heats up, so I unplugged it when it said 130F! SSL also recommends a 5-minute steeping time for the first infusion. 5 minutes for a green tea? That’s long!
The wet leaf smells vegetal. The liquor is a light yellow-green color. It tastes like something out of the ocean, minus the salt, like seaweed, and it’s also nutty, creamy, and buttery. It has a lightweight mouthfeel. The only weird thing for me was the water temperature is a little low for my taste…I like my tea a little hotter. Overall, it’s very different than other green teas I’ve had and I quite like it!
Pic of the leaf:
Thank you for the sale, Ost! This one sounded good. I liked the flavor combinations. I know Simple Loose Leaf shares some pu-erh blends with Adagio. I couldn’t really see any extra ingredients in the blend until I added the water. It looks like there are cocoa nibs and small strawberry pieces with the loose pu-erh. The pu-erh seems to be the same as the one in the coconut pineapple blend. I don’t dislike the pu-erh, but it also isn’t the best I’ve ever had. It’s a little dusty and dry flavored, but it does leave a dark cup. The additional flavors are mild but tasty. I’m getting a little bit each of chocolate, strawberry and cream.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsps. // rinse // few min after boiling // 2 min steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4-5 min steep
The dry leaves in the warm gaiwan smell somewhat like golden raisins, and of course… ginseng. The wet leaves smell really sweet and fruity like berries, floral, and with a faint hint of pond and prairie grass aroma. The liquor smells creamy and somewhat like sunflowers and is pale yellow.
The taste of the first infusion is of sunflower seeds, a bit floral, and a touch bitter. The aftertaste is very sugary and lingers in my mouth for a long time.
The second infusion is quite a bit bitter and drying with a bit of tanginess and still with a lingering sweetness, though it is diminished this time by the lingering dryness as well.
Third infusion has a scent of osmanthus flowers, tastes a little bit like the first couple infusions, still a little sweet, but still a little bitter and drying too. I’m going to end here with this tea.
I’m under the impression that, generally speaking, many scented oolong teas are made from relatively low quality oolong. They usually open up much more quickly than high quality ones and put out a much stronger flavor, often to the point of being cloying, drying, or bitter. There wasn’t much to enjoy in this tea. Tasted low quality to me.
I expressed interest when SLL sent out an inquiry for reviewers, but I had no idea I was going to be one of the lucky ones to receive a box for review, until a box magically appeared in my mailbox yesterday. It was an awesome surprise! I love the packaging of these monthly subscription boxes…it’s like getting a gift box in the mail. The teas are nestled in crimped paper pieces and they include a card describing each tea and a couple of reusable cloth teabags. I’ve never used cloth teabags before, but I’ll have to give it a try and report back. Anyway, on to this tea, the first one I tried from the box!
The dry leaf smells like white chocolate peppermint bark! Yum! The leaf is beautiful with those cute little yellow chamomile flowers. I’ve not been a fan of chamomile, as it usually has a medicinal herb note to it, so this should be interesting.
The color of the liquor is a very clear red…pretty. :) The peppermint is nice…it hits at the front of the sip, then backs off for some creaminess, then hits more at the end of the sip with a refreshing minty spiciness. It clears up my nose a little. This tea is smooth and clean and sweet. I don’t even like mint much, but this is good. It’s nice for after dinner and it would probably be good with some honey if you were sick. I’m not tasting any rooibos and the chamomile is very mild, so those of you afraid of the medicinal taste of either of those should not be worried. You know, the funny thing is that when I saw there were two herbal teas in the box, I made a face, as I’m not big on herbal, but this is actually really good. Probably the best mint tea I’ve had. Well done, SSL, and thanks so much for your generosity!
The first steeping of the tea has a rich, roasted flavor and a slightly sweet finish. There was a noticeable shift in flavors in the later steepings. They developed a deeper roasted flavor, reminding me somewhat of toasted sesame seeds (which I’m not particularly a fan of) and tasted salty. I thought at first my son had been dipping his pretzel rods in my tea again (this has recently become his new favorite game) but I kept noticing the same subtle brine-like flavor every time I prepared a fresh cup. I wasn’t expecting such a radical shift in flavors, it caught me a bit off guard and left me to wonder if I would notice such a huge difference if I had decided to steep the tea at a different temperature. This is one of the rare times I wish Simple Loose Leaf hadn’t decided to decrease the amount of tea in their monthly boxes. The new ¼ ounce size just doesn’t give me enough tea to experiment with if I feel the need, as was the case with this tea.
You can read the rest of the review on my blog:
The best tea out of this month’s Simple Loose Leaf Tea Club Coop!
This oolong is from wild grown tea trees. The flavor is actually quite different – it’s green oolong, but not as delicate as one. The flavor starts tulips, wheatgrass and creamy sweet. With further infusions, the tea gets less grassy and more savory – with a sesame and wheat cracker kind of flavor, which is quite different and fun.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/february-simple-loose-leaf-tea-coop-club/ Dimetrodon in disguise!
Third one from the Simple Loose Leaf box. This is a very fresh and pleasant-smelling herbal tisane. Alongside the mint and chamomile, there’s a hint of vanilla flavoring, which makes for more of a sweet and smooth aroma. In terms of taste, the vanilla is fainter, while the mint and chamomile are both quite enjoyable. The rooibos base is fairly unassuming, and I don’t think there is that much of it in the mix either. Overall, it’s a standard herbal tea that is nicely relaxing.
I’m not usually a fan of ginseng, but this blend has a lot going on – enough so that the ginseng’s presence isn’t too problematic for me.
Overall, I found this to be enjoyable. I liked the licorice-y notes, I liked the peppermint and the sarsaparilla, and the cinnamon. Not a bad tisane.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/01/06/seven-seas-herbal-tea-from-simple-loose-leaf/
This is the second tea I am trying from the Simple Loose Leaf tea box. It’s pure lemongrass, and has a pleasant smell reminiscent of lemon and dried grass (…is that redundant?) In terms of taste, there are no big surprises here—this is an enjoyably lemony brew on the sweet and smooth side. It actually reminds me very strongly of Butiki’s Lemon French Macaron, so I wonder if some of the flavor in that blend is derived from lemongrass as well.
I tried brewing this tea in the reusable muslin sachets that came with the box. The sachet is easy to use, and allows the tea to infuse quite well. The one shortcoming of it is that the smaller lemongrass pieces tend to poke into the fabric, making it hard to clean. This might not be the case with larger tea leaves.
Thank you Ost for this sample. This tea is malty, quite malty. This is strong, a good morning tea. This should wake me up. I think I oversteeped it at three minutes but it is still relatively good.
I brewed this twice in an 18oz teapot with approx 3 tsp leaf and boiling water. I steeped it for 3 min and 4 min. I put the second steeping in a thermos to take with me to an appointment.
I received this tea as part of the Simple Loose Leaf tea box that I won this month. It was an awesome surprise that brightened up my whole day (and probably week)! The box comes with 5 teas and 2 muslin tea sachets, which I haven’t tried brewing with yet. All of the teas are new to the database, hopefully someone who subscribed to the box will add at least a few of the rest before I get to them…
Anyway, this is a lovely, very smoky lapsang. The aroma of the tea is that familiar pine-smoke scent. This one is a little savory and sweet at the same time, almost like candied bacon (I mean it in the good way, I swear!). The smokiness—leaning more toward charred pinewood now—is very much present in the taste, but somehow not overwhelming. Lapsang is a bit of an acquired taste, but it’s really comforting if you’re accustomed to it. There’s also a rich, almost buttery quality to the savory notes of this tea around mid-sip. The aftertaste is lingering and sweet, and a little bit menthol-like, just as the description says.
This is the third lapsang/xiao zhong I’ve tried from a Western seller, and currently tied for the best. I can see the one from Verdant being more of a cult favorite, but this one should have broader appeal. There’s a nice warm-glowing quality to it, like sitting by a fireplace.
Thanks again to the guys at Simple Loose Leaf for the gift, and as a friendly note, you might want to run your tea labels through spellcheck next time. Wouldn’t want any unintentional comedy :)
Place holder until future steeps
I tried one sencha yesterday, so I thought I’d follow it up with another! The inside of the packet looks like the leftovers from a hay bale, except green. So perhaps an alfalfa bale. These leaves smell a lot sweeter than yesterday’s. Sweet dry alfalfa. I went for the minimum recommended steep time (2 min). The liquor is a pale gold with a tinge of green. It gives off a faint…..dry grass, almost roasted scent. The taste reminds me of high-summer hay. A little grassy, a little roasted, more body, but still light. There’s an almost metallic tang on the end, but it’s swallowed up by the sweetness in the breath. (I probably used too hot of water.)
Further steeps revealed this to be true….
From the January Simple Loose Leaf Tea coop.
Best tea out of the box this month. The assam malty base is a great match to the bergamot. The bergamot is a moderate level, with a bit of a brisk finish at the end.
Full review on my blog The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/january-simple-loose-leaf/
My first infusion had a nice balance of sweet and spicy. The spices had a chai-like flavor to them and the pu-erh is mellow and smooth. It’s a little earthy but I thought that the earthiness worked because of the spices.
The second infusion, the spices were a little more mild than the first so this allowed me the chance to explore the tea a little more. It’s earthy, but I’m tasting more of a mushroom type of earthiness. I like that I’m not tasting brine or fishy.
The flavor was much deeper and smoother with the third infusion. I can really taste the rich, aged tea now. The spices have softened and are more of a background note, and I like the way they play with the molasses-y sweetness of the tea. It’s quite an enjoyable experience.
here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/11/05/puerh-spice-tea-from-simple-loose-leaf/
After looking through the offerings in the box this month it was tough to decide which tea I wanted to review. The chai green piqued my interest, but I’m a sucker for anything Earl Grey (it is without a doubt my all time favorite tea.) This time I was delighted to see we have an Earl Grey with a twist— it’s made with an Assam base rather than the traditional Ceylon. Once I saw that I knew it was the tea for me. I wasn’t disappointed either, the flavor of the Assam was much more delicate than what I’m accustomed to with Ceylon. When steeped at 205°F the tea lacked the astringency and dry mouth feeling I get from many Earl Grey teas. It really allowed me to focus on the citrus flavor from the bergamot. The difference in base teas was a refreshing change from what I’m accustomed to. I could certainly see this tea becoming part of my regular rotation.
You can read the rest of the review on my blog:
I’ve been very busy evaluating the prospects to join SororiTea Sisters that I’ve neglected my posting of backlogs so that I can get caught up, so now I’m allowing myself to fall behind again.
I MUST get this caught up by the end of March. MUST! You’ll soon find out why!
Anyway, this is a good Hojicha! Roasty, toasty, warm. Nutty. Tasty! I love a good hojicha especially in the autumn because it’s got those lovely nutty, toasty flavors that taste so autumnal to me.
The texture is smooth and light. A pleasure to sip.