Friday, February 13, 2015

Simple Loose Leaf Co-Op Box Day 1: Gyokuro and Sheng Cha Oolong, A Tea Review

Woo, it has been a while since I had a Simple Loose Leaf box show up at my door, I have not had the chance to sample them since they switched to a new style of workings. Basically you are sent a box of samples each month along with a membership ID which gives you 50% the price of the teas in their shop. I think this is rather clever, I could certainly see myself partaking in buying oolongs, I have a bit of an addiction. On a personal note, I am covered in paint flakes and rubbing alcohol as I strip the paint from my Scourge...yes after I called them finished I changed my mind and want them repainted. I am certainly my mother's daughter.

Sheng Cha Oolong

It has become a bit rare that I run into an Oolong I have not heard of, so yeah, I went into immediate research mode while drinking the Sheng Cha Oolong. For the most part I could not find much, mostly I kept finding information on Puerh and since I do not know what version of Sheng it is, that made searching even harder. What I did find is that it is from Taiwan, specifically they are from trees left to grow wild for decades, which is pretty cool. The aroma of the leaves is delectably toasty, it smells like baking super grain heavy bread, you know, like one of those 20 grains breads. Now take that loaf of bread and drizzle a bit of honey on it and you have the aroma of this tea. I am salivating, but I am in a constant state of craving bread, so that could be why.

The aroma of the first steep is so grainy! Like someone is toasting grains right next to me, it is honestly a little cruel how much this tea smells like toasted wheat, sesame seeds, and barley. The taste is banging hot, and not in a 'oh god I burned my tongue so bad' way, I mean this is the new hotness. It is like drinking honey drizzled whole grain bread while sitting next to a vase of wildflowers. The majority of the taste is toasted grains and yeasty bread, but there are delicate notes of flowers and honey, which I really liked.

Second steep is very similar in aroma, there was a touch of toasted peanuts as well this time around. The taste is more grain and less sweet, it is definitely like eating toast. I am a little wowed by the grainy aspects of this tea, I could see it being a good bread replacement when I am shambling around the house moaning graaaaiiiinns like a gluten craving zombie.


Imagine my surprise at seeing Gyokuro as one of the teas for this month, then imagine my surprise when I actually looked at the leaves, it looks nothing like the needly Gyokuro leaves I am familiar with! It kinda looks a lot like Tencha, the leaves that are ground into making Matcha, but that is crazy rare, since it is wanted to make said powdery goodness. The aroma of the leaves is a blend of green notes and a tiny bit of toasted rice crackers. You know, those delicious Japanese crackers that have bits of seaweed and such? I used to be addicted to those once upon a time. The green notes are a mix of fresh hay, sweetgrass, actual grass, and a  tiny bit of seaweed.

I brewed this in the standard Gyokuro way, lots of leaf and cool temperatures, it is always fun brewing gyokuro, though I do wish I had a shiboridashi! The aroma is a mix of green growing hay, freshly cut grass, a bit of Nori, and a little like rice. As expected the mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, the taste is so sweet it is almost syrupy as well, that is a potent sweetness! Like honey and sweet hay, this transitions to a more umami seaweed and lastly a bit of bok choy. A few minutes after the sipping and there is a sweetness in my mouth from it. Hilariously I did another steep but got distracted...came back about 20 minutes later, I drank it because YOLO and it was actually pretty tasty. Super green and umami, but tasty!

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