Simple Loose Leaf

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Recent Tasting Notes

92

Four Season Oolong is one I just have not had that many sipping sessions with, which is a shame, because it is really a neat tea. Called Four Seasons because this Taiwanese tea produces four flushes each year, but it tastes like a spring flush, which is fancy indeed. The aroma of the tightly rolled tea leaves is very floral with notes of hyacinth, orchid, and honeysuckles, also a hint of fresh vegetation making me wonder if instead of sniffing a tea I in fact stuck my nose in a parallel dimension that is nothing but a heady, flowery hothouse. The brewed leaves take on even more flowers with the added sweetness of lilac and magnolia, it is just a pile of flowers! The liquid sans its very floral smelling leaves is also very floral, but there are also slightly creamy notes and sweetness.

The taste of the first steep is like drinking a bouquet of flowers, there are so many floral notes that my mind is blown a bit, it manages to be light and not at all perfume like or ‘soapy’ in its floral taste. It is also quite sweet with a creamy mouthfeel. The second steep is nigh identical in aroma, and very floral and sweet in taste, but there is an added bit of fresh vegetation and dryness at the finish mellowing out the floral a tad.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/09/simple-loose-leaf-september_9.html

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87

Backlog:

I do love a good Formosa Oolong. My favorite Oolong teas still tend to be AliShan but my earliest experiences with Oolong tea began with Formosa … Formosa was my first Oolong, and in those earlier days in my tea journey, I believed that Oolong was Formosa and I didn’t know that there are so many different types of Oolong. I’m happy to have discovered Oolong as I have, but, Formosa Oolong will always hold a special place in my heart.

This is a really good Formosa Oolong. It has a very autumnal type of taste with it’s earthy notes and the sweet, dried fruit notes that it has. A warm, toasty taste. Sweet.

This is a tea that you definitely want to take the time to infuse multiple times because the later infusions become tastier than the earlier infusions – sweeter, more intensely flavored.

Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/06/05/formosa-oolong-from-simple-loose-leaf/

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95

Ah, nothing like chai before bed time, a nice soothing spice without tons of caffeine, always a pleasure. This particular chai is a blend of Rooibos, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Ginger root, Cloves, and Black peppercorns…a traditional blend with an herbal twist. The aroma…well, this is definitely not a stick your nose in the bag kind of tea, very potent spices which will make you sneeze a lot if you are a goof like me. It is intensely peppery and gingery, very sweet too with all its spices and rooibos. The brewed leaves bring out more of the woody quality of the rooibos along with a potent note of cardamon, pepper, and ginger. The other spices are not as strong as those three, but they are definitely present.

After adding the customary milk and sugar, the aroma is still very spicy with strong notes of pepper and ginger, along with woody sweet rooibos. The taste is pretty awesome, very strong in the spice department starting off with warming pepper and ginger, moving on the cardamon, and finishing with mouth tingling cloves and cinammon. Luckily the cinnamon is not too strong, I find that a lot of spiced teas make the mistake of having cinnamon be the alpha spice. The rooibos is present as well, around the midtaste you get caramel notes and it finished with woody sweetness and a slight dryness at the finish. A perfect sip for a cool rainy day (like it is for me today.)

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/09/simple-loose-leaf-september.html

Flavors: Caramel, Cardamon, Clove, Ginger, Pepper, Wood

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86

This tea is a very pretty example of FTGFOP black tea, or Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, because tea grading is rather long winded. This particular black tea (with its adorable golden tips) is from Assam, India. The aroma of the leaves is malty and quite sweet, like dried cherries and prunes, with a hint of fresh apricots and a finish of oak wood. Brewing the tea will get you a nice burst of a bright, brisk, and malty aroma. The wet leaves still retain their notes of fruit, but it is not as strong, the wet leaves have more of a wake you up aroma now.

The liquid without its leafy friends is brisk with notes of dried fruit, malt, and oak wood. It smells very rich, perfect for when I have just woken up and need a brisk awakening. The taste is brisk and quite malty with notes of oak wood and a sweet finish of dried fruit. The package said it was good as a straight tea or with milk and sugar, so I decided to honor my British relatives and have myself some milky tea. Adding the milk and sugar makes the briskness vanish and the richness of the malt take center stage, it is delicious with how rich and fruity it is now. I say if you want a black tea that wakes you up, go straight…if you want a black tea that soothes you, go with the milk and sugar.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/09/simple-loose-leaf-september.html

Flavors: Fruity, Malt

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Happy Sunday, y’all! I know it’s getting late, but now I’m finally caught up enough to do today’s Sunday Tea and Books!

The Tea

Simple Loose Leaf describes this Lady Earl Grey Black as a “very popular Earl Grey blend of citrus bergamot over an extraordinary Nilgiri Black Tea with the added indulgence of Vanilla.”

The only other vanilla Earl Grey I’ve had was David’s Tea’s Cream of Earl Grey (Organic), and I have to admit that set the bar very high for this tea. What I really liked about David’s Tea’s version was that the vanilla of the flavouring melded with the chocolate notes of the base tea, and that the bergamot was very sutble.

In contrast, this tea is a disappointment. Holy CRAP is this tea bergamot-heavy. It’s quite sharp-tasting, and the vanilla shows up much more in the scent than the taste. The taste here is mostly bergamot, and it’s so strong that it becomes almost metallic.

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t finish the full 24 oz of tea I brewed, which is how much I normally brew of a single tea at a time. I got a little over halfway through and let the remainder cool, after which I just didn’t feel like drinking the rest and dumped the remainder over some flowers in the front lawn.

I really don’t know how much of this is due to the Nilgiri base, as I know that the one time I had a Nilgiri tea, the flavour was quite dark and earthy, but hoo boy, this tea really needs to lighten up.

The Book

Eh, I’m tired (hosting a garage sale all weekend can do that to a person), so I’m going to take the extremely literal route today, and say that since this tea is called Lady Earl Grey, it reminds me of The Grey Lady from the Harry Potter series.

And why not? This tea is sharp, and when the Grey Lady shows up in Book 7 to reveal the history of Ravenclaw’s diadem, she doesn’t come off looking very sympathetic. Her own sense of superiority when others ask her about the diadem’s whereabouts plays into this acerbic, sardonic persona. There’s no softness about her, just like the vanilla doesn’t contribute any of its expected softness to the tea.

I’m tired. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. If I were in a somewhat better state of being, I would tell you all about my friend’s late cat, also named Lady Grey, who was an absolutely sweet but absolutely dumb cuddle monster — but I’ll leave that for another day.

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

Where I live The Grey Lady is a ghost. She even has a webcam.

Christina

A ghost with a webcam? Do tell.

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68

I got this in the $1 Box from Simple Loose Leaf Tea. I’ve had it a few times now with different brewing methods.

A lightly roasted oolong that starts off with a robust roasted/raisiny taste and dies down quickly into a mellow sweetness.
I enjoy this tea but I would say it’s not really worth it to brew it Gongfu. I could only get 3 solid infusions from it before the flavor was quite weak. Still pretty tasty for those first 3 infusions though.

Flavors: Raisins, Roasted, Sweet

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Meh.

I made this one iced as well, because it has totally been an iced tea day.

But this one is not my favorite. The blueberry is a little over the top and fake. It’s a shame because I think the shou mei is pretty nice in this tea, but overwhelmed by the fake blueberry. A little sugar might have helped the fake blueberry not taste so wrong to me, but I am hesitant to add sugar to iced tea.

If anyone is interested in trying this tea, let me know.

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60

From the Round 3 Here’s Hoping TTB

Meh. The base tea is good, but the plum flavoring taste fake. It actually taste more like a grape flavored Dum Dum lollipop than plum. While this isn’t a winner for me I do think I’m warming up to white teas a bit more.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
Cheri

I’ve been cold brewing this one. It’s nice that way.

Veronica

That’s a good idea. Is the flavor more plumy as a cold brew?

Cheri

I thought it tasted less fake that way, anyway.

Veronica

The base tea is so good… I’m tempted to snag the rest of this out of the box and try it as a cold brew now!

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65

Backlog:

I can’t say that this is my favorite tisane because it isn’t. I’m not all that wild about Hibiscus. But I did enjoy the citrus-y aspect of the blend as well as the flavor that the spices add. As long as I don’t steep it too long (I steeped it for 6 minutes) the hibiscus doesn’t get all out of whack and become syrupy.

My daughter, on the other hand, really enjoyed this.

Not bad but not my favorite. I didn’t expect it to be my favorite because Hibiscus is right there in the name of it. But I’m happy I tried it and it gave my daughter and I a moment or two together to drink tea – these are few and far between because she just turned teenager.

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Kinda-sorta-backlog from a few days ago.

I made a big batch of this in my iced tea pitcher a few days ago, and have slowly been sipping it since. While the dry tea leaf and the brewed tea certainly smell of blueberry, I find it hard to discern in the tea itself without a little hit of sweetener.

As it goes, though, this isn’t bad. There’s a light floralness on the back of the tongue, and the body of the sip is nice, fresh, and clear. This is definitely a tea made for coldbrewing.

Also, in my last note, I complained that I didn’t have much to write about, but I just thought of something: where on earth are my incoming tea boxes?! I’m still waiting to hear about my Just Organic kickstarter tea package being sent out, and apparently my Teavivre teas had been sent out back in July but are still not here – they’re not even showing up as arrived in Canada yet. On top of that, I’m also waiting for a set of sampler teas from Teasenz. That one is more recent, so I know I shouldn’t expect it yet… but… I want my tea NAO! =^.^=

darby

Maybe your mail carrier likes tea and is hoarding them? ;)

Christina

Well, I’m assuming the Just Organic kickstarter stuff hasn’t even been sent out yet, since I haven’t gotten an email notification and was told I would get one. I’m getting really antsy about that one because the Kickstarter originally planned to have the tea sent out in July, but now it’s near the end of August and nada.

As for the others, I really don’t know. I trust Teavivre and know that their shipments can take a tad longer, but still, I just want my tea :)

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72

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

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89

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89

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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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Backlog from last week.

And it’s a sipdown!

I’m glad I finally finished this off. Now I can move my good jasmine pearls from Capital Teas into the empty tin for this.

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Backlog note 6 of 13.

I’m backtracking a bit here – I forgot that I drank this on Saturday, not Sunday.

I had a Mary Kay lady over at my house to try on different types of makeup. I thought it would be fun, but I ended up feeling really uncomfortable because I just wanted make up, and she wanted to show me all of these other products involving skin care. I just wanted makeup! And I just wanted her to tell me what colours looked good on me! I’m an idiot when it comes to make up – just tell me what I need to do, and I’ll be fine.

Anyways, I had some of this when she was over. I really want to sip this down – I might as well do it with someone who doesn’t know I’ve got better stuff hiding in the cupboard.

Does that make me a bad person? Ah well. Consider me cheap.

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I’ve got a lot of other teas I like much more in my cupboard, but I need to finish this off so I can empty the tin and then put my good jasmine pearls in the same tin (this means that I won’t have to wash the tin since it already smells like jasmine).

I still used a 2-minute steep time.

Happy Friday, y’all. Lots of stuff I need to do before the day is done.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML
Cameron B.

Happy Friday yourself! :)

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I think I’m finally getting caught up!

I brewed a pot of this tea this morning, and knowing how jasmine-heavy it tastes, I tried steeping at a lower temperature (72C) for 2 minutes.

The result was still very heavily fragranced with jasmine, but it was much more tolerable this time. So note to self and others: try steeping this at around 70C. Also, keep the steeping short to keep the jasmine flavour under control.

The hubby and I had a garage sale this weekend, so now I’m pooped. Catching up on my tea logs for the week is one of the last things I do before I lie down to relax.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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Another backlog from when I drank during Steepster’s Day of Server Doom:

The jasmine in this is really strong, even at a 2.5 minute steep. There’s at least 3/4 of an ounce left. I put the leaf into an empty tin to save space, but it is a bad idea that I already know what tea I’ll store in this tin once I finish this particular tea? Gonna have to mainline this over the next few weeks to sip it down.

sherapop

“Steepster’s Day of Server Doom” lol!

Christina

Well, I needed to record the tragedy somehow!

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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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