Four Seasons Oolong Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

FourSeasonsOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tea Description:

Four Seasons of Spring is named because it produces four flushes (or harvests) each year that have a flavor and quality of that of a spring flush. This varietal was cultivated in Taiwan from a strain of TieGuanYin (Iron Goddess of Mercy), in the 1980s. This delightful oolong varietal has been cultivated for its sweet, floral flavors and expertly processed by hand. It is light yet buttery with lingering flowery finish of morning gardenias and warm milk.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club subscription program here.

Receive 25% savings on the Selection Club from Simple Loose Leaf.  Just type in SISTERSELECTION25 in the coupon field and save 25%!  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.

Taster’s Review:

This Four Seasons Oolong from Simple Loose Leaf is absolutely delightful!

The appearance of the dry leaf is quite what you’d expect from a Four Seasons Oolong – beautiful, forest-y green leaves that have been rolled into small pellets.  The aroma is a strong, flowery essence.

To brew this tea, I grabbed my gaiwan and I measured out 1 bamboo scoop of tea into the bowl of the vessel.  Then I heated freshly filtered water to 180°F and poured water into the vessel and let the tea “rinse” for 15 seconds.  Then I strained of the liquid and discarded it.  I poured more hot water into the gaiwan and allowed this first infusion to steep for 45 seconds.  For each subsequent infusion, I added another 15 seconds onto the steep time.  I combined two infusions into one cup, so my first cup was composed of infusions 1 and 2, while my second cup was composed of infusions 3 and 4 … and so on.

Yeah, yeah, those of you who are familiar with my posts are probably also very familiar with how I steep my Oolong teas.  To those of you who are, I apologize for sounding somewhat redundant!  The brewing steps above are written for those who might not be as familiar with my brewing style.

Anyway … I find that the fragrance of the brewed tea is still very floral but the scent is somewhat subdued compared to that of the dry tea leaves.  This aroma translates to the flavor, because I’m tasting flower!  The description above suggests gardenias and yeah, that’s what I’m tasting.  I’m also getting a sweet, creamy flavor and texture.  The texture is soft and smooth and creamy!  Quite lovely!

I love the way the floral notes mingle with the creamy notes, because I find that these somewhat vanilla-like tones soften the sharp notes of the flower. I like that the creaminess here is not a heavy taste.  It doesn’t seem to coat my taste buds the way some creamy Oolong teas can.  Oh sure, I do love those sumptuous, creamy Oolongs but it’s nice to have a lighter approach now and then!

The first cup was finished before I knew it (hey, it’s good stuff!), and I found that my second cup was even nicer than the first.  The floral notes are stronger but the creaminess is still there to soften the sharp notes.  It is smooth and luxurious to sip from start to finish.  And I found myself picking up on some hints of apple and melon around mid-sip.  This cup seemed fresher and more round, with better developed flavors.

My third cup surprised me!  I didn’t expect it to be creamy.  By third cup with many Oolong teas, the creamy notes have waned, but I’m still getting a fairly strong cream flavor.  Oh, sure, it has softened somewhat, it isn’t quite as strong as the first two cups, but I’m still getting a pleasing note of vanilla-esque cream.  The floral notes are still there, and in the distance, I started to pick up the faintest hint of vegetation.  The aforementioned fruit notes were beginning to emerge a little more, but these were still somewhat distant as well.

Overall, one of the nicest Four Seasons Oolong teas that I’ve tried.  Another big win from this month’s box from Simple Loose Leaf!  Have you subscribed yet?

Citrus Hibiscus Herbal Tisane from Simple Loose Leaf

Citrus-Hibiscus-HerbalTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos & Fruit/Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

This lovely and colorful blend of hibiscus, rose hips, lemon grass, orange peel and organic rooibos infuses a ruby red herbal with a refreshing citrus and tart flavor containing light spice tones. Excellent over ice for a zingy citrus treat, and enjoy hot to help punch out a cold or flu.

Hibiscus Flowers, Rose Hips, Rooibos, Lemongrass, Orange Peel, Juicy Lemon and Orange Flavors

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club subscription program here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  This smells AMAZING!  I love the bright citrus-y scent of this tisane.

Now, as you can imagine, the name of this tisane scared me just a little bit.  Citrus Hibiscus Herbal.  Hibiscus just isn’t my thing.  But, I’ve had some really positive experiences with hibiscus lately, and the last hibiscus based tisane that I tasted from Simple Loose Leaf turned out to be alright.  And this smells really good … so with those things in mind, I kept my fingers crossed and I brewed myself a cup of it.

OK … there is a bit more hibiscus in this than I would like there to be.  That said, there are some other flavors in this that appeal to me.  I like the citrus-y notes to this, and I do like how the rooibos lightens up the thick body that would normally accompany such a hibiscus-heavy tisane, making it much more palatable.

While this isn’t my favorite tisane , I found it tastes better served iced.  Some of the hibiscus zing seems to chill with the cold, making this much more enjoyable, and just like the Cranberry Breeze from last month, my youngest daughter found these two drinks to be especially enjoyable, and hey, I’d rather her be drinking this than something sugary.

Another tasty way to enjoy this:  add a couple of cloves and some cinnamon to the teapot before you pour in the hot water to start steeping.  Let the spices steep with the tisane … it doesn’t end up too spicy, but the warmth of the cinnamon and cloves add some delightful contrast to the tart citrus and hibiscus.

It’s not a bad tisane, but it isn’t my favorite tisane, either.  Then again, I didn’t expect it to be.  But that’s the beauty of the Selection Club from Simple Loose Leaf.  I get to try out five different teas every month and if there’s one in that five that doesn’t make me do the happy dance, that’s OK.  It’s a sample size, and I still have four other teas that I can enjoy.

It’s all about the power of choice!

At the beginning of every month, I receive an email from Simple Loose Leaf that details the teas that will be featured in the next month’s box.  I can choose to receive two large packages of two teas that appeal to me.  I can choose which two teas I want from their menu of five teas.  What if I want to try all five?  Well, then I can choose to receive the sampler package, which offers five samples, one of each tea of the five on the menu.

That’s what I usually choose, because I’m a taster.  That’s what I do.  I taste a tea … try it out, and then I tell you about it.  Most of the teas and tisanes from Simple Loose Leaf, I’ve really enjoyed!  Occasionally, I’m going to encounter one or two that just doesn’t excite me, like this one.  And that’s OK because I do have the power of choice with this program!

And whatever you choose to do – that’s OK too.  This program gives you the power of choice!

Use this code:  SISTERSELECTION25 to get a 25% discount when you sign up for the selection club.  This discount is not applicable on the retail selection of teas, and is only good for the selection club subscription.

Want even more incentive to join the Selection club?  Then, check THIS OUT!  Now through June 20th, all new subscribers will receive a FREE teapot with their first shipment.  WOW!  What an awesome deal!

Handcrafted Oolong Tea from JusTea

HandcraftedOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Justea

Tea Description:

This is a tea like you’ve never tasted before. Hand-rolled by the JusTeam in Kenya, the unique flavour profile is buttery, with notes of stone fruit and nuts. As the leaves unfurl, different tasting notes are revealed. Best enjoyed at a 1.5 minute steep time, this Oolong will last 2 or 3 steeps!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Amoda Tea is implementing some changes to their format.  This month’s tea tasting box is the last that I’ll be receiving – they’re no longer offering the tea tasting box.  While I’m anxious and excited to learn about the changes that they’re making to the company, I’m also quite sad that this is the last box that I’ll be getting from them.  I’ve enjoyed receiving my monthly tea box from Amoda!  I’ll miss the joy of opening my mailbox every month around the 12th or so and finding that familiar, slim “letter box” from Amoda Tea.

For this month’s box, Amoda has chosen to focus on two different tea companies that I’m already familiar with:  JusTea and Nepali Tea Traders.  These two tea companies are dedicated to creating sustainability in the tea industry.

One of the teas from JusTea is one that I’ve already reviewed:  African Chai. I probably won’t be writing another review about this tea, but, I’m more than happy to drink more of it!  The second tea from JusTea is one that I’ve not yet tried until today – this Handcrafted Oolong Tea!

When I opened the pouch, I was greeted with the smell of freshly cut hay.  It was a little unusual for me to experience that aroma with an Oolong, but it left me intrigued!  Once I poured hot water over the leaves for the initial rinse, the hay-like fragrance was replaced with the distinct scent of molasses.  Sweet!

My first cup (infusions 1 and 2 after the rinse) tasted just like it smells – that is to say, I am tasting a thin molasses.  I’m not sure if I’m actually tasting “baked” notes in this, or if it’s just my mind playing delicious tricks on me, but I feel like I’m sipping on liquefied molasses cookies.  In the distance, I also notice hints of vegetative tones.

This is one of the sweetest Oolong teas that I’ve ever tasted – and Oolong teas tend to be somewhat sweet!  But even for an Oolong, this is so sweet and delectable!

My second cup (infusions 3 and 4) was not quite a sweet as the first cup.  The first cup was very much like a thinned molasses.  This cup still has some molasses notes, but, I’m noticing more fruit notes emerge with this cup, as well as a subtle hint of a woodsy note.  The fruit notes are like something between a sweet plum and a ripe nectarine.

The third cup (infusions 5 and 6) was more fruit-like, and I could taste the sweet as well as hints of sour notes of a tree-ripened plum that have been cooked to extract the sweet juices of the fruit.  The molasses notes are not completely gone, but they’ve become integrated with the plum notes.  Think of the aforementioned cooked plum juices mixed with a little drizzle of molasses … that’s what you’ll taste with the later infusions of this tea.

This is an amazing Oolong – I highly recommend it to Oolong enthusiasts.  It is so different from the Taiwanese and Chinese Oolong teas that I’ve reviewed in the past … oh, sure, I still love those!  But this one is special and stands out from those and definitely deserves some attention from you!

I am sad to see my Amoda Tea Box go … but I’m glad to see that they decided to go out with a bang!  This Handcrafted Oolong Tea from JusTea is so good!

Soba Cha Deep Roast Buckwheat Tisane from Steepster

sobacha1Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Buckwheat Tea

Where to Buy:  Steepster Select

Tisane Description:

Soba cha (roasted buckwheat berries) is a caffeine free tisane drank in noodle shops in Japan. With an intoxicating aroma and slightly sweet, nutty brew, this is sure to become a favorite. GLUTEN FREE!

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  I’m pretty sure that I’ve tried Soba Cha before, although, I’m not sure when.  This Soba Cha Deep Roast Buckwheat Tisane from Steepster reminds me a lot of drinking Genmai … (the toasted rice part).  It has that roasty-toasty quality of Genmai rice, but, this has more of a malty … or perhaps a barley like flavor.  It reminds me a lot of a freshly baked, whole multi-grain bread.

The flavor is sweet with notes of honey and nutty tones.  There is a caramel-ish sort of flavor to this as well and that melds nicely with the honey.  Then there is the grain-y sort of flavor that is so reminiscent of “breakfast” to me.  Whole multi-grain toast with a pat of butter on it and honey drizzled over it.  Yeah … that’s what I taste with this.

On Steepster I saw a suggestion of adding some maple syrup to this, and I think that would make a stunning addition to this.  It’s quite good served straight up (I prefer this hot, it seems to lose something to the flavor as it cools), but, if I were going to add something, I think I would add the maple.  It would give this a real “breakfast-y” sort of appeal.

A really yummy, naturally caffeine free alternative!

Laos Black Tea #05 from Steepster

laos5Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Steepster Select

Tea Description:

A black teas from Laos with this quality of manufacture is almost unheard of. Our dedicated producer has thrown convention out the window and began making teas that rival India and China. This rolled, jet black tea with golden buds is a sure sign Laos is on its way.

Taster’s Review:

When I first opened the packet of this Laos Black Tea #05 from Steepster and smelled the contents, I found myself bewildered by the fragrance.  It was a scent that was totally unfamiliar to me, especially in the world of tea.  Usually a black tea smells “earthy” or “leathery” or even “fruity” or “floral.”  But this tea smelled like none of those things!

On Steepster, one of the tasting notes suggested a “tomato” fragrance, and while I don’t know that what I smelled was that of tomato … I do certainly agree that it smells different.

The flavor is also quite different from any black tea that I’ve had, although there are some familiar notes to this as well.  This has a richness to it, although I find the body to be somewhat lighter than the typical black tea.  It is sweet (like honey!) and there are some delicious malty tones to this.  I also taste earthy notes with whispers of smoke.

And, yes, these are all notes that in other black teas … but it’s just the way these particular flavors come together in this particular tea that makes it different.  It’s malty and rich, but it is lighter than other black teas that are known for malty, rich flavors like an Assam or a Fujian black.

It’s an easy to sip tea … something I’d be happy to drink again.