Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Simple Loose Leaf: August Subscription Box, Part One

It is with sad news and a heavy heart that I announce that the Tea Lair is disbanding. Since it is in the basement, it means I have to go up and down the stairs a lot, which is just causing my way too much pain, so back to the bedroom I go. Ben is the best ever and is going to totally redo the bedroom so it will be a really awesome place for me to be, but it will need a new name since it will not be a 'lair' any longer. Suggestions? Today is part one of Simple Loose Leaf's August Subscription Box! Specifically I am focusing on the teas I chose to brew Western Style rather than multiple steeps in my gaiwan.

Blueberry White

Oh man, I love blueberries so much, they might be my favorite fruit and they are certainly my favorite fruity additive to various things. This particular tea is a blend of Shou Mei White Tea, Blueberries, Blueberry Flavor, and Cornflowers for a very intensely blueberry tea. When I opened the package I was greeted with a potent blueberry aroma similar to blueberry jam, it is intensely sweet. Under this strong blueberry aroma there is a nice leafy green, like fresh vegetation and lettuce. Brewing the tea turns my tea lair into a blueberry lair! It is sweet and fruity with a gentle hint of vegetation, the liquid without its leafy friends is essentially the same, but with an extra honey sweetness.

The taste is surprisingly gentle and delicate, I was expecting an explosion of blueberries, instead we have a gentle caress of Shou Mei. The taste starts out a blend of fresh vegetation, lettuce, and a touch of earthiness. This transitions to slightly peppery blueberries, but it is like someone squeezed some blueberry juice in my white tea, or I just ate blueberries and then drank some white tea. As the tea chills it takes on a bit of a sage taste to it which goes really well with the blueberries. Absolutely yum!

Honeybush Herbal

Honeybush is a South African plant related to Rooibos, just like Rooibos it has no caffeine and is nicely red. The aroma of the dry leaves is woody, sweet, and a little bit sour. It reminds me a bit of sour cherries and melons with a touch of dried bamboo wood and hay. Brewing the tea brings more of the woody quality to the forefront, along with a caramel sweetness. The liquid is woody and sweet, I always find that Honeybush smells warm, like sunshine.

The taste is woody and caramel sweet at first, this fades to a nice dried fruit sourness, again the idea of sour cherries pops to my mind. Honeybush is very much so Rooibos's mellow cousin, it is not as woody or dry, and the taste is not as strong. I find myself reaching for it when I want a calming, sweet, sip before bed.

Lady Earl Grey Black

This tea had me a bit worried before I saw the ingredients, I thought it was a Lady Grey...a tea which I have a very reliable track record of disliking. Luckily this is not a Lady Grey, it is a Lady Earl Grey, made from Nilgiri Black Tea, Bergamot, Vanilla Flavor, and Cornflowers. It is one of those tasty creamy Earls that I tend to like. The aroma is very much so creamy sweet vanilla, bright bergamot, and malty black tea. Not very complex, but still very nice to sniff. The brewed tea is stronger in the citrus department, with the malt and sweet vanilla taking a backseat. And by taking a backseat I mean it sneaked off into the liquid, which is almost all creamy vanilla and malt.

The taste is not bad! It starts out brisk and lemony, just a touch of bitter like lemon pith, this very quickly passes. Afterwards we get a nice, creamy vanilla and malt taste, it is quite sweet. There is a tiny bit of a soapy quality, resident Earl Grey afficianado did not notice it, so your mileage may very on that one. I notice sometimes that teas with bergamot taste a tiny bit soapy to me, that is the only tea ingredient that has every tasted soapy. Earl Greys are not my favorite tea ever, but I still enjoy them ever so often, especially creamy sweet ones.

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