Simple Loose Leaf
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Recent Tasting Notes
This month the green tea offered for the Selection Club was Sleeping Dragon from Adagio. While I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of the decision to add Adagio teas to their lineup, I do tend to prefer their unflavored teas to many of their other offerings. This particular tea didn’t wow me, I find it to be a pretty middle of the road green tea. It’s nothing exceptional, but certainly not something I would turn down if it were offered to me. The flavor is vegetal with a hint of smoke and a slight astringency. It left me with somewhat of a dry mouth, which is something I tend to avoid with my summer tea selections. I find that if I cold steep this tea overnight, rather than brewing it using traditional methods, it cuts down on the amount of astringency making for a much more appealing iced tea. If you aren’t a fan of astringency in your green teas, this may not be for you.
You can read the rest of the review on my blog:
Catnip isn’t an ingredient I often see included in herbal teas, but it is an excellent sleep aid and can even help with migraines or other headaches. When combined with lemon balm and chamomile, both known for their abilities to act as a natural sleep aid and stress reducer, you’ve got the potential for the perfect bedtime tea. The flavor is relatively mild, with subtle lemon undertones from the lemon grass. The combination of catnip and peppermint have a cooling effect, which is perfect for a summertime blend. While I didn’t drop right off to sleep last night after enjoying a cup of this tea, it was a nice relaxing way to end my day.
You can read the rest of the review on my blog:
I didn’t realize how little of this tea I had left, so it’s nice to realize there’s an easy sipdown within reach.
This time the tea was slightly underleafed because I had only 2.5 tsp when I really needed 3 for the size of my teapot. Ah well. I steeped it the full 5 minutes to compensate.
I’ve heard a lot about how Darjeeling teas, especially 2nd flush ones, are supposed to have this grape/muscatel note. If that’s the case, I’m definitely not sensing that here. Instead, I’m getting a really bready, savoury, sharp note that reminds me of dill, of all things. My first tasting note for this tea mentions an “alkaline” taste like saltine crackers, and that overall impression still holds true.
Ah well. One tea down, a bajillion left. :-)
The instructions on the package said to steep it in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. However, other members of Steepster have commented that Darjeeling teas taste better when steeped at lower temperatures. Instead, I steeped the tea using 185°F (85°C) water, while keeping the other parameters the same – 1 tsp per cup, for 3 minutes.
The dry leaf of this tea is small, twisted, and black. Anyone who wants to understand how diverse tea can be should have a tea like last week’s Yunnan Breakfast Black side by side with this one. That tea was smoky and leathery, and in contrast the Second Flush Darjeeling smells sharp, fruity, and peppery.
When brewed up, the sharpness and fruitiness were still present. A lot of people in the past have commented on the “muscatel” note of Darjeeling teas, and if this tea is typical, I think I understand what people mean. There’s definitely a smell reminiscent of raisins or grapes – somewhere in between the two, really. But the taste isn’t quite as fruity. Instead, there’s more pepper to it, and it’s also somewhat bready and savoury.
But gasp! Incredibly, I can’t think of a fictional character to compare this tea to. Why? Well, my blog post will reveal all: http://christinavasilevski.com/2014/06/sunday-tea-books-second-flush-darjeeling-simple-loose-leaf/
Whenever I visit my family abroad, we go to their local outdoor pool. We spend the morning there, swimming and enjoying the sun before it gets too hot. My uncle always brings tasty food from home. I love it. There are two things that always remind me of those times: garlic toast prepared a certain way, and the smell of freshly cut grass. So it makes sense that I associate grassy teas with good memories and warm weather. Today was definitely warm. Sencha time!
This particular sencha is one of the better ones I’ve had. It is just wonderfully light and grassy. I enjoyed it as my morning travel mug tea today. Mmm.
I woke up to a sunny and temperate day that just cried out for a springlike tea. I chose this one based on the light, grassy smell of the dry leaf and the fact that I lurve sencha. I made it in my travel mug, so I can’t speak to brew scent or color. The taste was fab though. Reminiscent of freshly cut grass. Perfectly springlike. I look forward to trying this gong fu style.
I was beyond excited when I got my box of Simple Loose Leaf to try for $1! They were beyond generous in how much tea they sent; I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes at first. All three bags were bulging and hardly fit in my 100g containers when emptied into them.
Craving a nice oolong for weeks, the Formosa Oolong was my obvious first choice. I was a bit disappointed upon scooping out the tea to look at it. The leaves were very broken, dry, and brittle, with some dust reminiscent of Lipton. However, for a dollar, I wasn’t going to complain, especially without giving it a shot.
I’m rarely a fan of short steepings, so I decided to try this one at 3 minutes or so. I hadn’t unpacked my little yixing pot from college yet, so a roomy paper filter sufficed. A few minutes later, I sat down with my first steamy, piping hot cup of oolong in a long time…and my stomach sank a little on the first sip.
Note, I’m used to high-quality, full leaf oolongs with a great complexity of flavor. I shouldn’t have expected that out of this tea, even just by its appearance. I realized that I’d probably left the filter in the cup for a little too long, as it had become obnoxiously bitter and astringent like Lipton, the type that leaves the back of your throat dry. I gave up halfway through that cup.
Since then, I became more sensitive to this tea’s steeping needs, and have had much more luck with it. Right now, it’s my go-to nighttime tea, but that may be moreso so that I can finish it up. When steeped correctly, you definitely get some good grapeseed and tobacco flavors with a hint of dry woodiness that a more amateur palate would probably enjoy. This would be a great gateway darker oolong for those that want to give it a shot without “wasting” more complex ones on them.
Overall, price aside, I wouldn’t reorder this one at full price, or really any price above $1. I was happy with the Simple Loose Leaf experience, and had other good teas in the box, but this one definitely fell short.
Flavors: Grapes, Tobacco, Wood
I only had about 2.5 tsp of leaf, so my 24 oz pot of tea was slightly underleafed. However, that didn’t affect the flavour at all. This tea is big and bold, somewhat malty, smoky, leathery. In fact, I can see this being more of a pu’erh rather than a black tea.
And now it’s raining out. I’ll see how long I can make this last – I bet I could get another steep out of these leaves. Then, once it’s sunny, off to the Farmers market.
The dry leaf for Yunnan Breakfast Black is very dark, with a scattering of golden tips. I’ve seen tippier Yunnan black teas, but this is decent. The dry smell is of malt, cocoa, and a bit of smoke. Brewed up, the tea is a deep umber colour and gives off a rich smell of malt, cocoa, and tobacco, with a little bit of sweet potato thrown in.
If my mother smelled this, she’d probably say the same thing she says whenever I brew up straight black tea like this: “This is real tea! Just give me some orange pekoe!” (Needless to say, my burgeoning interest in loose-leaf tea in all its variety – flavoured, unflavoured, black, green, white, oolong, herbal, pu’erh – has been met with wry amusement in my household.)
There’s very little bitterness or astringency in this tea, despite the depth and darkness of the flavour. So what character does it make me think of?
Since it’s Father’s Day today, I tried to think of famous fathers in fiction that would fit this. And in keeping with my mother’s imagined (but probably accurate) sentiment, I thought in particular of a father that was honest, decent, and straightforward: Atticus Finch.
But why did it make me think of him? My post at http://christinavasilevski.com/2014/06/sunday-tea-books-yunnan-breakfast-black/ explains it all.
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco
I wasn’t terribly impressed with this one, but I’d drink it if it was around. Now that I am fancy enough to tell the difference between the two, I find that this was both bitter and astringent. I’ll perhaps try this with a shorter steep time and see if that makes a difference.
Of course I had to choose this tea as part of my Simple Loose Leaf Selection club. PU’ER!
Hot, it is mostly ripe pu’er flavored backed with coconut with a light fruity finish – good if you want some pu’er with a tropical twist.
Iced – this is where this tea shines – it’s fruity mango papaya upfront, coconut finish with an interesting earthy background. Kinda similar to drinking a black tea, but more rich and earthy. I’m sure I could serve this to my iced tea friends and they’ll dig it.
Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/june-simple-loose-leaf-tea-selection-club/
This has been sitting in my “samples, drink me first!” bowl for several weeks. I don’t know why I have been passing it over. It’s really good! Just yummy, sugary, vanilla-y black tea-ness.
Oh that reminds me of a funny. We were having a canned peas versus frozen peas discussion with our daughters. My husband likes frozen but the girls like canned. My husband said that the canned ones don’t taste much like “pea-ness” – hilarity ensued. You might have to say it out loud to get the joke.
Cold brewed this for 24 hours. Since it’s herbal, I can drink it at night without worrying that I won’t be able to fall asleep. It came out a beautiful red colour and smells like citrusy juice! Fooled by the smell, I thought this would taste sweet, but I quickly learned this was not the case. I added ~1tsp of honey and it is pretty good! There’s a faint hint of something in the background that I don’t really like.. not sure what it is though – possibly the lemongrass? Too herb-y for my liking.
TTB 10: I pretty sure I underleafed this one. It was difficult getting the big, fluffy leaves in my spoon. I’m getting some white tea flavors with a bit of sweetness I’m assuming is the peach. I’ll likely update this soon when I try again with more leaf!
Edit: I resteeped and added more leaf. I got more tea flavor, but I still didn’t really get any peach flavor. This is a bit disappointing because it smells just like a fresh peach. I may have to cold steep this one and see if that brings it out any.
Insomniac’s dream is your typical relaxation tea. It will wind you down for the evening and prepare you for sleep. I didn’t find that it stood out from any other brands of sleep tea that I have tried and there were definitely some fun ingredients in there that I would have liked to tasted a bit more. Overall, not bad by any means but certainly not superb.
This is a blend of orange peel, Shou Mei White Tea, Safflowers, Sunflowers, and Orange Flavor for a citrus themed twist on a classic white tea. The aroma is very citrus heavy, it is a little on the artificial side and sadly reminds me of the orange bathroom cleanser I used to use. Underneath the heavy swath of orange there are notes of lettuce and delicate floral.
Once the leaves have steeped in their little basket, the wet leaves’ aroma is intensely orange, still too artificial for my liking. There is also a bit of tartness and lettuce to the aroma. The liquid smells pretty much the same, I am afraid!
Tasting the tea sadly confirmed my fear, this tea tastes like air freshener. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not such a tea snob that a candy flavored tea puts me off…just certain flavors do not necessarily work. I find that any citrus that is a flavor and not all natural tends to taste too much like cleaning chemicals, but it could be that I have a preference for citrus scented cleaners. Other than the air freshener taste there are notes of lettuce and a tiny bit of orange sweetness. I really like the idea of an orange white tea, just maybe I will hunt one down that just has orange bits in it.
Flavors: Lettuce, Orange