Tuesday Tea - Tea Co-op March Box - Simple Loose Leaf

Where to Purchase: 

March Selections:

Gunpowder Green
Thai Chai Tea
Spearmint Herbal
Sungma Summer Darjeeling
Senna Leaf and Anise Herbal Pu'er

Senna Leaf and Anise Herbal Pu'er

Senna Leaf and Anise Herbal Pu'er

Review:

The month of March got off to a rough start. The East coast got buried in snow, yet it's been in the 50s here in Wisconsin. This crazy weather lead to a delay in the arrival of my tea co-op box from Simple Loose Leaf, but the company did a great job keeping me up to date about the issue. They also let me know they were working towards a solution so this wouldn't happen again. I give them an A+ for keeping me informed, many companies wouldn't have bothered to notify me. 

As for the box itself, this month marked a small, but noticeable change. No more random advertisement for underwear! Instead, there was a card with trivia on one side and a tea blending suggestion on the other. Both were welcome additions to the box, as were the packets of organic fair trade sugar. I wouldn't mind seeing more tea related samples in the box, it was a great idea as are the reusable teabags they've been including recently. 

I have mixed feelings about the tea offerings this month. I've sampled four of the five teas already. This was pretty disappointing, but I do enjoy Thai Chai, it's an interesting non-traditional chai blend with coconut and lemongrass. All I have to say about this blend is yum (double yum if you make it with coconut milk.) While I consider chai more of a cold weather drink, this makes an amazing iced chai latte. 

The blend I was most excited about this month was the Senna Leaf and Anise Herbal Pu'er. I don't see pu'er blends often and I think this is the first herbal/pu'er blend I've come across. The small amount of pu'er added a slight earthy flavor, although the dominant flavors were orange, anise, and ginger. There where were a few flavors I couldn't quite pinpoint (probably the senna leaf or slippery elm which were both new to me.)  The only negative I have about this blend is the fact that it gave me one heck of a rash. Apparently I'm allergic to one of the herbal ingredients.

I also wanted to point out that slippery elm, which is one of the herbal ingredients of this blend, can decrease the absorption of medications. In addition to this it's not considered safe for pregnant or breast feeding women. If you're taking any medications, are pregnant, or breast feeding, then you'll want to check with your doctor before consuming any herbal teas. Many are safe, but there are a great deal of which that are not. It's always better to be safe, than sorry. 

My Rating: ---/100 (no rating this time since I couldn't finish the sample)

Would I order this again? No, but that is mostly because I was allergic to one of the ingredients. This was one of the more unique offerings I've seen in the box and it was nice to see a pu'er blend.

Disclosure:

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

Tuesday Tea - Tea Co-op February Box - Simple Loose Leaf

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February Selections:

Gyokuro Green Tea
Lapsang Souchong
Lemon Grass Herbal
Mint Chamomile Rooibos
Sheng Cha Oolong

Sheng Cha Oolong

Sheng Cha Oolong

Review:

My monthly box from Simple Loose Leaf came in last week and I was excited to see this unusual wild-grown oolong among the offerings. What makes this oolong so unique is the fact that the leaves are left on the plant for decades, rather than picked seasonally. This gives the tea a much different flavor than other Taiwanese-grown oolongs, which are oftentimes sweet or floral.

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.

One thing I want to note before I end my review is that I found the steeping instructions for this tea to be odd and wondered if they were a misprint. Normally you would increase your steeping time with each infusion to help draw out more flavor, but instead Simple Loose Leaf suggests that you steep the tea for 2 minutes the first time and decrease the time for the second infusion by a full minute. This not only limits the number of times you can steep the tea, but also doesn't allow the tea to produce the full range of flavors it is capable of. For this review I steeped the tea at 185°F with infusions spaced 30 seconds apart (1m, 1m30s, 2m, 2m30s). I was able to steep the tea four times before I felt the need to switch to something else, but could have continued to steep the tea several more times, or as long as I found the flavor to still be pleasing. 

My Rating: 76/100

Would I order this again? No. I didn't enjoy this enough to reorder, but it was nice to see such a unique offering available in the box.

Disclosure:

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

Tuesday Tea - Tea Co-op January Box - Simple Loose Leaf

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December Selections:

Brazilian Toasted Mate
Assam Earl Grey
Gen Mai Cha (see previous review)
Black Pu'erh
Chai Green

Assam Earl Grey

Assam Earl Grey

Review:

This month when I opened my Simple Loose Leaf box I noticed it had gotten a bit of a facelift for the new year. There is a new label design, a feedback card, and two reusable teabags, in addition to the five samples normally included in the box. Also making a reappearance is the rather odd advertisement for panties. I haven't mentioned it before, but it's been included in the box for the past few months. I don't mind advertising being included in my subscription boxes, but I feel like it should be pertinent to what I've ordered. I'd rather see something food related, or perhaps a discount for tea ware. I'm not likely to order new panties just because I received a discount in my tea box (besides the fact that I'm quite addicted to Victoria's Secret.)

After looking through the offerings 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.

My Rating: 92/100

Would I order this again? Absolutely! This could very well be my new favorite Earl Grey.

Disclosure:

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

Tuesday Tea - Tea Co-op December Box - Simple Loose Leaf

Where to Purchase: 

December Selections:

Chinese Sencha Green
Santa's Gingerbread Holiday (see our previous review)
Yunnan Noir
Jade Oolong
Honeybush Hazelnut

SLL_ChineseSencha.jpg

Chinese Sencha Green

Review:

This month when I opened my box from Simple Loose Leaf I was disappointed to see that there was only one tea that I hadn't tried before. Three of the teas ended up being from Adagio, but I was glad to see that one of my favorites from last year (Maya Tea Company's Santa's Gingerbread Holiday) made an appearance. I wasn't initially a fan of it, but during the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap someone sent me an amazing tin of Gingerbread cookies that tasted just like this tea. It really grew on me, so I'm glad I have a second chance to enjoy it.

Today I'll be reviewing the green selection from the box, Chinese Sencha Green. I'll be the first to admit that I don't tend to drink sencha often. I have to be in a very specific mood to enjoy a strong vegetal flavor in my tea. I typically pair it with something salty, such as Chinese takeout, but it also goes well with sushi. This particular sencha has a more mild flavor than I'm accustomed to. When first steeped the flavor is somewhat vegetal, but as it cools off the flavor mellows out and it becomes slightly sweet. The mild flavor wasn't what I was expecting, but since I can't order takeout tonight I find that I prefer the tea this way. 

My Rating: 74/100

Would I order this again? Yes. I have a feeling that this would be fabulous as an iced tea.

Disclosure:

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