Tuesday Tea - April Selection Club - Simple Loose Leaf

It's that time of the month again, my April Box from Simple Loose Leaf has arrived. This month I had trouble deciding which two of the five teas I wanted sent to me, so I opted for smaller samples of all five teas. I love that this is an option, it's perfect for those times when I'm completely indecisive. Simple Loose Leaf has come a long way in the eight months I've been a customer and I have to say, I love most the changes they've made as they fine tune their subscription service. 

Plan Description:

When you join Simple Loose Leaf you will tour the world and explore the wonders of tea. Our members embrace the discovery of new passions and rekindle their forgotten loves through our carefully curated menu of teas. Select a plan, make tea selection, and get a package!

Where to Purchase: 

Simple Loose Leaf 

April Selections:

Gen Mai Cha Green 
English Breakfast Black 
Madagascar Coconut White
Hazelberry Pu'er
Cranberry Breeze Herbal

Gen Mai Cha Green

Gen Mai Cha Green

Review:

As you can see from the photo above this is a very unique looking tea. It contains brown rice which has been toasted, allowing it to puff up and occasionally pop open like popcorn. This is why many tea drinkers new to this style of tea refer to it as popcorn tea. Although I've tried several different types of Gen Mai Cha, so far I haven't really developed a taste for it. I did enjoy this more than most, but I don't tend to care for the deep toasted, almost nutty flavor from the puffed rice.

This tea is best served hot without sweetener. It also pairs very well with salty meals or anything containing a lot of soy sauce.

My Rating: 75/100

Would I order this again? No, but I'm not a fan of this type of tea. Even so, this is a nice example of Gen Mai Cha and those of you who do like this type of tea will likely enjoy it.

English Breakfast Black

English Breakfast Black

Review:

English Breakfast tea has been one of my preferred summertime teas for as long as I can remember and we never had any shortage of it in the house when I was growing up. These days I don't tend to drink black tea as much, but I still go through several pounds of it a year making iced tea for my husband, we always have it on hand in the fridge. When I opened up my April Box I knew that my package of English Breakfast tea was destined to be made into a huge pitcher of iced tea. I only managed to try one cup of this hot, but now that I've tried it I wish that I had opted for the larger size.

This English Breakfast tea stands out above many that I've tried, it's a great all-purpose tea that is good hot or cold and can be served morning, noon, or night. This rich black tea is made up South Indian Flowery Orange Pekoe, Ceylon Black Tea and Chinese Whole Leaf Black Tea. The combination of the three types of black tea give it a nice bold flavor without any astringency. It's really nice to see that Simple Loose Leaf offers such a great variety of black teas. While I still consider this a bold tasting black, it is much more mellow than Four Horsemen Black, which I reviewed back in January. 

My Rating: 85/100

Would I order this again? Yes! If you're in the market for a black tea that is bold, but not slap you in the face bold, then this is your tea.

Madagascar Coconut White

Madagascar Coconut White

Review:

This blend was such a treat and ended up being my favorite of the five teas I was sent this month. Even though I love coconut I'm not normally a fan of coconut flavored teas. More often than not the flavoring is overpowering and highly artificial tasting, but in this blend everything is perfectly balanced. The subtle, sweet coconut flavor and Shou Mei white base with its buttery texture left me thinking of coconut cream pie. This is a nice guilt-free treat that I can enjoy all day, I only wish I had ordered more of it.

My Rating: 80/100

Would I order this again? Yes, this is the perfect tea to drink on a hot day. I'm tempted to toss a paper umbrella in my cup, then head outside to kick my feet back and enjoy the warm sunny day.

Hazelberry Pu'er

Hazelberry Pu'er

Review:

I realized as soon as I saw the April selection list that Simple Loose Leaf had decided to add a new wholesaler to the mix. This doesn't come as a huge surprise to me as Maya Tea doesn't offer a large selection of oolong or pu'er teas, but I am a little confused at the choice they made. I was expecting another small purveyor of quality teas similar to Maya Tea, not Adagio, which I can buy locally. With this addition I feel that they've taken a huge step in the wrong direction. I've been incredibly happy with the oolong teas I've tried from Maya Tea, I can't say the same of Adagio.

This isn't the first time I've had the opportunity to sample Hazelberry Pu'er, I ordered a sample from Adagio a year or so back when I first began my discovery of this type of tea. At the time I had yet to acquire a taste for pu'er although my feelings have slowly changed over time. What hasn't changed are my feelings about this particular blend, I don't love it, I don't even like it a little. Rather than the strong earthy flavor I expected from the pu'er I was met with something more akin to dirt; it wasn't a particularly pleasant flavor. Masking this taste somewhat is a large amount of tart berry flavor, which is rounded out a bit by the addition of natural creme and hazelnut flavoring. Perhaps I've been spoiled by high quality pu'er I've ordered elsewhere, but I still find myself unimpressed with this blend. Of the five teas I was sent this month this was my least favorite. 

My Rating: 40/100

Would I order this again? No. This isn't the quality I've come to expect of Simple Loose Leaf, it left me very disappointed.

Cranberry Breeze Herbal

Cranberry Breeze Herbal

Review:

I have a rather shocking admission to make to you today. Even with a toddler running around I rarely allow juice in the house. I'm a habitual label reader so I found it rather surprising that many popular juice blends contain 27% fruit juice or less. While there are blends that contain 100% juice, I still don't consider them a healthy beverage for myself or my toddler since they're chock full of sugar and other ingredients I prefer to avoid. This is how, much to my husband's disappointment, we came to have a juice free household.

So what does that have to do with this tea you ask? 

When I first banned juice from the house I looked for options that might be a good compromise for me on the occasions I wanted juice with breakfast or brunch. I discovered fruit based herbal blends early on in my search, but most of the blends I've tried haven't appealed to me. They tend to be incredibly tart and more often than not I end up adding sugar to them, which in my mind completely negates the healthy aspects of drinking them in the first place. Because of my previous experiences with fruit based herbal blends I did not have high expectations for this one, but it's another blend that left me pleasantly surprised. I expected this to be fairly tart since it contains rose hips, hibiscus and cranberries, but the cherry flavoring adds a bit of sweetness that balances out the tartness nicely. 

This may be an option for me for those occasions when I'm craving something other than tea, it certainly helps that I love cranberries. The only thing that really bothers me is that I have no idea how much sugar is contained in a fruit based herbal blend. While it is much less sweet than juice, I have no way of knowing how much sugar is contained in the flavorings. Since this isn't marketed as sugar-free I'm it is safe to assume there is some, but I have no idea how much.

My Rating: 80/100

Would I order this again? Yes. I loved the combination of cranberry and cherry, I may have the perfect blend for the days I'm craving juice, but don't want to consume a lot of sugar.

Overall Box Rating: 72/100

Would I order this again? Yes. I would reorder 3 out of the 5 blends I was sent this month, so even though I didn't enjoy everything, I would still sign up for the service again because it's a great way to discover new teas.

Disclosure:

In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that Simple Loose Leaf has provided me with three free months of their new subscription service. As always, all opinions are my own.