Friday, June 6, 2014

Simple Loose Leaf: June Subscription Box, Part One

Welcome to the two part review of the teas offered in June's Simple Loose Leaf Subscription Box. I decided to break it into two parts since my rambling can get rather long winded, a small wall of text is better than a massive one! I decided to make part one be the teas that I brewed in my gaiwan, because anytime I feel that a tea belongs in the gaiwan I go for it.

Sleeping Dragon Green Tea

These fuzzy, tightly rolled, green tea leaves are grown high in the mountains of Fujian, China. Apparently this tea is a good introduction to novices into the world of green tea, I left the novice group a while ago, but I am certainly not one to turn my nose up to a new tea. The aroma is a blend of chestnut, green bean, and spinach. It reminds me of a very vegetal oolong, or like an oolong tea and a green tea had a clandestine affair and this tea is the result. The aroma is a bit faint, but the notes are pleasant.

The aroma of the brewed (and now not as tightly curled) tea leaves is very vegetal, lots of spinach and green beans with a finish of artichoke. The liquid's aroma is sweet and chestnut like with a buttery and vegetal finish.

The first steep is fairly delicate with notes of toasted sesame and nutty chestnut. This fades to green beans with a bitter green, kale like finish. It is like a walking tour of the vegetable aisle in my mouth, and I am ok with that.

The second steep starts off quite sweet with notes of toasted sesame and a touch of honey. It reminds me of Halva, a delicious Persian dessert. This almost immediately switches into green beans and spinach, and this quickly fades to kale and green bitterness that stays on until the end. This is a strong tea.

The final steep left a bit to be desired, it is dry and almost entirely kale. It really feels like I am drinking warm kale juice, and while I really like the taste of kale, I do prefer a bit of moderation. Out of curiosity I chilled this tea, the results were very strong and very vegetal bitter, so the kale juice comparison stays. I really enjoyed the first and second steeps, the third, well in the future I will stop at two.

Yunnan Breakfast Black

It is a black tea from Yunnan, China, meaning that there are a few delightful gold fuzzy leaves. Since I was brewing this in my gaiwan I ignored the instructions and used my usual technique for brewing Yunnan Black/Red teas (195, 30 seconds and add 30 for each steep). The aroma of the dry leaves is a mix of pine resin, pepper, stewed cherries, and an aged oak cask. It smells like fruit, scotch, and smoke-less Lapsang Souchong. What an unusual tea!

Brewing the tea brings out more of the woody quality with the oak/scotch aroma and pine resin aroma being at the forefront. There is still a hint of fruit sweetness, but it is more an afterthought. The liquid is pine smoke and molasses.

This tea is brisk and strong! Breakfast blend is a perfect description because I am certainly awake now. The taste is a blend of molasses, pine resin, oak wood, and lastly honey. For all this tea's strength, it is not bitter or unpleasant, it is sweet and intense.
Newsflash: My desk is a mess again.

The second steep, I have gone from awake to vibrating so fast that I have torn a small hole in reality. That is the mark of a good breakfast tea. The taste is very brisk, though not nearly as sweet. This steep has a bit of smoke and pine resin. There is a midtaste of molasses and a finish of pepper.

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