Simple Loose Leaf
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Recent Tasting Notes
Backlog from yesterday morning.
It might be different with black teas (anyone wanna hit me up with some LS, which I’ve never tried?), but I’ve realized that when it comes to green teas, I’m not a huge fan of smoky flavours.
This one isn’t horrible (for some reason, I always find Mao Feng smoky, to my surprise, whereas I know to expect it from a gunpowder-like tea), but I won’t restock this once I’m done. This also tastes earthier than when I first remember trying it.
Simple Loose Leaf describes this tea as being similar to gunpowder green tea, with its smokiness and sweetness, and that’s pretty close to the truth. I know gunpowder green mainly as the base for Moroccan Mint teas and as the kind of default green tea I’ve encountered in many dim-sum restaurants, so the flavour was very familiar to me.
The dry leaves were dark green, tightly-rolled little balls, and smelled kind of vegetal and smoky.
The brewed tea was a nice amber colour with a hint of green, and it was slightly smoky and generally unassuming. However, after drinking a lot of it at once, it did start to become slightly astringent. For me, this would be the perfect kind of tea to have in the morning when I’m too groggy to make any important decisions – a tea that’s no fuss and undemanding.
Given the name of the tea – Sleeping Dragon Green – it’s kind of obvious that I needed to find a fictional dragon to link it with. Smaug? No, completely out of character. Something from Game of Thrones? Nah, I did that last week. Another dragon from Tolkien’s lore, like Ancalagon the Black or Glaurung? No, no, no. Not in keeping with this tea at all.
But don’t worry, I did think of a dragon to compare this tea to – though you’ll have to read the full post to find out which one: http://christinavasilevski.com/2014/07/sunday-tea-books-sleeping-dragon-green
Note: I steeped this twice. Both steeps were similar in flavour and colour.
The final tea from my Simple Loose Leaf July box. Honestly I had no idea what to expect out of this one since I have little to no experience with Chinese green teas. The leaves are cute, they’re quite thin and they look rolled, then shaped into little “U” shapes and hoops. The color is on the grey side of green. They smell a bit musty and vegetal, and there’s a tart fruity scent that reminds me of dried cranberries. I steeped for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
The brewed tea smells vegetal and a bit grassy with a hay note. The flavor is quite mild, which seems to be a common factor in Chinese green teas. It’s a bit grassy and reminds me of a lighter version of sencha. I also detect a hint of floral and there’s a fruity element mid-sip. It’s quite astringent for a green tea. As I let it cool, I started to get more sweetness and a white-tea-like hay note.
Overall, I’m glad I got to experience a new-to-me tea, but this isn’t really something that I would enjoy drinking on a regular basis. It’s a bit too light for me.
Flavors: Astringent, Cranberry, Floral, Grass, Hay
Too light for my taste. While it does blend nicely with the base teas, the plum flavor is somewhat weak and could be just a little stronger (so that it doesn’t overpower the shou mei and jasmin green tea). On another note, the dry leaf looks very pretty with the bright orange cornflower petals contrasting against the varying dull shades of green.
ETA This doesn’t good cold-brewed. The plum flavor translates horribly and the aftertaste is better than the actual taste. There is also an unappealing smell. Dumped it halfway through. (I used 1 tbs for 12oz.)
I’m not changing the rating. It’s OK when it’s hot, and certain teas are just better at being brewed one method than the other instead of being flexible for both.
Method: 1/5 tsp, 8 oz, 200 degrees, 3 minutes, French Press
Aroma: Smells like blueberries
Flavor: It’s a little light for me. I would have liked more blueberry. It’s still good. I added a little sugar at the end, and that was nice. I think the blueberry was maybe a 5 on a scale to 10. I would have liked an 8 or better.
Method: 1.5 tsp, 8 oz, 208 degrees, 7 minutes, Forlife Brew In Mug strainer
Dry Leaf & Brewing Aroma: Smells strongly of citrus. Very pleasant.
Flavor: I let this go beyond the 3-5 minutes of recommended time because Cameron B stated there wasn’t much citrus flavor after 5 minutes. I thought that maybe more time would equal more citrus.
On the plus side, this looks like liquid sunshine in the mug. Very pretty. But I do wish the flavors were more pronounced. I added a little rock sugar, which brought them to the forefront a bit. So to sum up: use lots of tea, steep for a long time, and add a little sugar! The result was quite nice. I think I may let this go to 10 minutes next time, just to see what happens.
Backlog from last night! I went to start reviewing another tea and realized I still had the notes from this one and hadn’t written it up. Oops. This is from Simple Loose Leaf’s July selection. Looks like rooibos with dried lemongrass, citrus peel, and the odd red peppercorn. It smells quite citrusy, which is good for me. It’s obviously grapefruit, but there are some other citrus scents and a touch of spice. Brewed 5 minutes!
The brew smelled similar to the dry, but with less punch. I was actually surprised that the grapefruit is not very strong in the taste. I mostly get lemongrass with a citrus accompaniment. It’s a little bit herbaceous from the lemongrass, and there is definitely a peppery note. The spice is there but subtle, just a background flourish.
Overall, I liked this as a caffeine-free night option. The rooibos taste was not strong, and it did not taste medicinal like some rooibos can. Although I don’t really get “tropical” from this… Odd name choice.
Flavors: Citrus, Lemongrass, Peppercorn, Spices
Another tea from the July Simple Loose Leaf box! I have pretty limited experience with white teas, and I’ve only ever had the bai mu dan variety, so this is a new one for me. I think shou mei is a lower grade of white tea, right? The leaves look fairly similar to bai mu dan, except there are a ton of stems in there. The leaves themselves are large and very varied in color. There are a few scant flower petals in there, too. It smells sugary sweet and kind of like grape, I guess. Mostly like candy… Not a great sign for me. 200 degrees seems high to me for a white tea, let alone one mixed with green tea. But I did it anyway! 3 minutes.
The brewed tea smells similar to the dry, but much more muted. There’s also some weird aroma that I can’t identify… The taste is kind of meh. I like the taste of the base – it’s kind of like a rougher version of the white tea I’ve had before. There’s that hay flavor, but then there’s also dry leaves and some grassiness from the green tea. I’m not sure that I really get floral, it’s definitely very mild. But the plum flavoring ruins this for me, it tastes like candy (not in a good way) and it has a very weird aftertaste that reminds me a bit of plastic combined with Dimetapp (grape cough syrup basically). It’s improved with a bit of sugar, but it still tastes just plain odd to me. :(
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Candy, Floral, Grapes, Grass, Hay
I chose Blueberry White as my August sample. Recommended temperature is 200F but I lowered it a bit. I was baffled to see it was so high. For a white tea?? o_O Though based on the cup I’m currently having, it seems that brewing this at that temperature might not be as bad as I thought. I don’t understand white tea.
A deliciously flavored tea! The blueberry is light in both aroma and taste, and it blends well with the Shou Mei, which, as far I can discern, tastes like white tea. I rarely drink white teas – they’re too delicate and subtle and have an odd grassy flavor. With this one, the grass isn’t so bad since it has blueberry flavoring for a companion. A good balance. Good ol’ blueberry.
Yay my first ever milk oolong! I’ve been pretty excited to try one ever since I found out it was a thing. This one is from Simple Loose Leaf – I chose it as my sample this month and it will be in the August menu. The leaves are a dark, muted yellowish green. They’re rolled up like other green oolongs I’ve seen and the size varies a lot among the pellets. It smells very much like sweet cream flavor. Hmm… I steeped for 3 minutes (the high end of the recommended time).
Yum, it smells delicious. It has kind of a peaches and cream thing going on with a bit of mild floral scent. The taste is not quite as exciting to me as the smell. There’s a definite vegetal note that reminds me of butternut squash, some light sweetness, and a floral touch. The peach shows up as an aftertaste, and it’s so convincing that I wish I could taste it the whole time. I don’t really taste milk in this, although I do get a light creaminess from the squash.
Steeped a second time (also 3 minutes) and I think I like it better this time around. The vegetal side is pretty much gone, and it’s much more fruity and floral now. However, I still don’t get a ton of cream flavor. I added some sugar and it seemed to help, but I feel like something called milk oolong should be creamy without additions.
Overall, it’s pretty good for a green oolong but I don’t know that I would classify it as a milk variety just from the taste. Perhaps it has to be with my brewing it western-style…
Flavors: Apricot, Butternut Squash, Cream, Floral, Peach
This was a sample with my $1 Simple Loose Leaf trial that I sure appreciated! Between requesting this and trying this one though, I’ve realized I’m not much of a fan since it is exactly the same as an Adagio blend I tried. This isn’t really the pu-erh for someone new to them to try. It might scare possibly pu-erh fans away. I really love pu-erh. The other day I think I realized they might be on the same level of love as black teas! WHAT?!?! How could that be? I guess I’ve been drinking some good ones lately. The flavor of the pu-erh here is a bit on the dusty side to me. Not on the strength a nice pu-erh should be. The leaves are loose, long and twisty which might be why. The fruity flavors with this one are nice with it, because without I think the pu-erh itself would be terrible. But the hints of fruit make it better.
Happy 4th of July everyone! I’m sure a lot of you are going to be celebrating with family and friends, having amazing barbecues and such. I will be having a lazy day on the couch, drinking tea, and watching World Cup games with my love. Huzzah! Although barbecued meat does sound amazing…
Anyway, another tea from the July Simple Loose Leaf box! I’ve never had a Ceylon before. Well, not knowingly. The leaves are small and skinny and black, and they smell like musty hay with some malt and a little honey and stonefruit.
The aroma of this one is a bit ho-hum to me. It just smells kind of bready and malty with some light sweetness. At first, tasting this, I didn’t get much out of it. It mostly tasted like malt and bread with some earthiness in there. Disappoint. I added a tiny amount of sugar which helped a bit. Then as it cooled down, I started to get more flavor out of it. It’s quite light-tasting considering its flavor profile, and there are some biscuit or cookie notes with a light apricot and citrus aftertaste. It got more astringent as it cooled too, but I wasn’t horribly bothered because I was so happy to find other flavors!
Added vanilla soymilk at the very end when I had about a quarter cup left and this made it amazingggggg… Tastes very cookie-ish now! :D Take the rating with a grain of salt, I know nothing of Ceylon teas.
I hope everyone’s 4th of July celebrations are amazing! :)
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Citrus, Cookie, Earth, Malt
Praise be, our 4th of July is overcast and cool with occasional rain. Such a relief after two days of hot, humid weather and two nights of thunderstorms. (Last night we actually had hail – the size of marbles!) A good day for a black tea such as this.
The dry leaf aroma has pleasant fruity notes, notably of apricot, peach, and dried kiwi (first time I detected kiwi in a non-flavored tea!). The aroma of the wet leaf, however, largely consists of malt with a hint of apricot. The liquor is reddish rust, full-bodied, and robust. When I first take a sip, malt is dominant. Again, the apricot is subtle, but it sticks out more and more as the liquor cools and the longer I let the tea sit in my mouth. It also delicately stays on the tongue during the aftertaste, when the malt nearly disappears entirely.
Cold steeped in the fridge for about 18 hours. This makes a fantastic iced tea. It has a sweet and natural peach smell. The flavor is likewise sweet and peachy. It’s fresh and light and just slightly dry. My dad thinks it’s too light, but he’s not a tea person so what does he know. It reminds me of bottled peach iced tea minus the sugar.
Until I run out of this blend, there’s always going to be a pot of it cold-steeping in the fridge. I like it that much.
From Simple Loose Leaf’s July box. I expected this to be covered in powder, like other ginseng oolongs I’ve seen online, but there’s no trace of powder at all. It looks like a dark yellow-green rolled oolong. It smells quite grassy and sweet, and for some reason like peanuts in the shell? Lol. The package suggested 3-5 minutes, so I did 4.
I’m always amazed by how big oolong leaves get when steeped. It’s like magic! :D I’ve only tried one green oolong, but this smells similar to how I remember it. It’s rather sweet-smelling, with fruity (peach?) and floral notes. There’s also a vegetal scent similar to sencha. This is an extremely light-tasting tea. All of the flavors are subtle and I found them a little hard to pick out individually. But here goes! I could definitely taste a light vegetal note, but it was so mild that I can’t really be specific. The tea is lightly sweet in an almost fruity way, and I taste a mild and fresh floral note, especially in the aftertaste. And it’s really quite buttery which is nice. :)
I’m not going to rate this because I’m not sure I’m getting all the nuances here. I may try this again with more leaf or a longer steep but for now, I wouldn’t purchase it.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Peach, Sweet, Vegetal
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.
Backlog from a few nights ago.
I love the smell of this tea when it’s dry, but when it’s brewed it doesn’t do much for me. There’s the rosy sweetness of the plum and the jasmine is very well balanced, but I just find that I’m not a white tea person. I’m trying to reduce my stock of white tea, but it’s going slowly. Ah well.
My latest entry in the Sunday Tea and Books series is up!
I ended up making this iced by taking about 3-4 tsp of leaf and steeping it in 1 cup of hot water with a bit of sweetener for 4 minutes, then pouring the resulting tea over ice to make iced tea. It’s ludicrously hot and humid out, and iced tea seemed like the only reasonable option today.
The dry leaf smelled fruity and sweet, and this translates over into the brewed tea. It says online that this tea is a mix of white and green, and contains jasmine in addition to plum flavouring. The jasmine does a good job of merging with the other flavours here instead of being the star of the show.
However, I’m not getting plum when I smell and drink this tea. There’s a sense of juiciness and flowers that comes across when I drink it, along with some of the deeper bitterness of the tea (I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m not a white tea person). Oddly enough, when it all comes together, I get notes of mint and of roses, with the roses being stronger.
This is a very feminine tea, I think. And when I think of roses, I think of one character in particular. I’ll give you a hint – this tea seems perfect for someone from A Game of Thrones.
Have a guess as to which character it could be? Well, my blog post reveals all: http://christinavasilevski.com/2014/06/sunday-tea-books-plum-blossom-white/
I was concerned that this tea would be a bit strong for my tastes but I was very wrong. This herbal blend is sweet, tangy, and spicy all at the same time. It keeps you on your toes and is extremely refreshing. It’s a wonderful pick for an iced tea. The rooibos remains mellow in the background, allowing the various spices and additional flavors to shine through. I brewed mine a bit strong and thought it really helped bring out the full-bodied flavor in this tea. It’s well balanced and smooth, reminding you why Simple Loose Leaf is a tea vendor you can trust.
I drank this iced, it was pretty good. I’m not a huge fan of tart, citrus flavors which this features quite strongly. The rooibos base was full-bodied and well balanced. If you like the base natural flavor of rooibos, this is a great tea for you. The fruit flavoring does not at all overpower the rooibos flavor.
This is so different than the Planter’s Pride Darjeeling I had the other day…maybe that one was a first flush? There was no info on the package :-(. Anyway, this tea has a much heavier and more savory taste to it. It’s got a nutty quality to it with some citrus highlights at the end. Bonus though, it’s not astringent at all. I am really enjoying darjeelings lately and this is no exception. I expected it to be a bit lighter, but maybe it’s a good transition tea to sip on while I wait for my jambalaya to finish simmering. There’s no light flavors in jambalaya, y’all! Thank you for including this in our swap, Cheri, and also Happy Birthday!!
Also, I went rogue with my preparation and declined to follow the instructions to use boiling water thanks to the fine tea education I’m getting from all you lovely Steepster-ites :-)
Flavors: Citrusy, Nutty