The Simple LeafEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
1800th tasting note!
Sipdown no. 13 of 2019 (no. 501 total).
I put the rest of this into a cold brew. I needed a couple of additional spoons to make a full pitcher, so I used the Oolong Sapphire Handunugoda from Dammann Freres.
The saddest part of this sipdown is that it reminds me that The Simple Leaf is no more. While this wasn’t one of my favorite oolongs, I still have some really awesome black teas of theirs that I am hoarding.
It made a very tasty cold tea. Interestingly, I think if I didn’t know it was oolong I would think the cold version is a black tea. Hmmm.
This is a Nepalese oolong. I’m not sure I’ve had one of those before.
In the packet it has a sharp note in the aroma, like what I associate with darjeeling. It is also quite woodsy and slightly toasty.
I steeped in the gaiwan after a rinse. 195F for 15 seconds, increasing by five seconds.
The liquor is rather dark, a sort of apricot-amber color. I detect apricot notes in the aroma as well.
The tea is mild and a little sweet, with predominant honey notes (hence the name, I suppose). The second and third steeps yield a deeper color. There is also an interesting floral note in the aroma.
I don’t like this one quite as much as I liked the other oolong I had recently that delivered predominantly honey notes.
It’s a good tea, nevertheless.
Flavors: Toasty, Wood
The last of my hoarded Simple Leaf blacks. This one I’d opened and tasted a while back because it got such tremendous love here on Steepster that I couldn’t wait. I probably should have, as it’s the mildest of the lot (it even says “mild” on the packet whereas the others say “bold,” like Starbucks coffee grades).
By comparison, the tea is in fact mild, but that isn’t a bad thing. It’s very smooth, and despite its label, deceptively rich-tasting. The big,twisty leaves are gorgeous.
All the things folks said about the cocoa notes are true, in abundance. I’m also getting a sort of brown sugar sweetness, and a leafy quality I associate with Ceylons sometimes. There’s also a mocha-coffee note, which is very cool for a non-flavored black tea.
You wouldn’t know any of this from the smell of the dry leaf, which is basically that of earth. After steeping that dissipates, and is replaced with the leafiness as well as all of the smells associated with the flavors that open up amazingly. The tea is a reddish brown color and clear.
There’s no denying that this is a very special tea. It’s from Arunachal Pradesh, which I looked up on the map — that’s the northeast corner of India, bordering China. It’s pretty far from what I think of as most of India (i.e., the peninsula part). No doubt location has a lot to do with the flavor.
Anyone tried any other teas from this area? Are they as good as this one?
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Coffee, Earth, Mocha
Sipdown no. 18 of 2023 (no. 676 total).
The assamy-ness of this, referenced in the original note, is still there, with perhaps the edge taken off from the age of the tea. It tends a bit toward bitterness even at a steeping time of 3.5 minutes, but after that there’s a hint of sweetness and a quintessential “tea” flavor reminiscent of Lipton but much smoother and deeper.
It wasn’t my favorite of the Simple Leaf teas I bought way back when and it still isn’t, but it was sufficient to fulfill the role of a take it to work tea over the past week.
Another of my hoarded Simple Leaf packets, newly cracked open.
So this may go to show that Assams aren’t my favorite. I prefer the Amor to this one. Maybe it’s because this one is more Assam-y. Very, very malty (lives up to the name) in the dry leaf aroma, steeped aroma and flavor. It’s a stout flavor, comparable to dark beer in character but not taste. It’s the color of an amber beer and tastes of bread and leaves. :-)
There’s just the tiniest metallic tinge to the aftertaste and a small amount of bitterness. I expected a bit more depth than I got from this. It’s good at what it does, but what it does exists on a narrow plane and I was hoping for something more expansive.
I think I will try lowering the water temp next time. I didn’t read the packet instructions before steeping and the recommendation is a slightly lower temp than boiling.
Flavors: Bread, Malt, Metallic
Another of my hoarded Simple Leaf teas that I just opened up. I steeped this hotter than the package directions mostly by accident. I didn’t think about looking at the package this morning. I’ll try it the other way another time.
I don’t have a distinct mental flavor profile of a Nilgiri even though I’ve had them before. For whatever reason, there’s not a distinctive map in my mind that identifies Nilgiris, the way I have a map of Assams, Darjeelings, Yunnans, and Keemuns. But this particular one is lovely in my book.
In the packet it smells bready. After steeping I get sweet notes of caramel, coffee, and berry. The tea is a clear, light-hued coppery golden.
It’s a mellow, mild flavored tea. Generally less sweet in flavor that aroma, but with bursts of sweetness that pop in the mouth during the sip and just a tad of smokiness. There’s an interesting softness to the mouthfeel that makes it very pleasant to drink, and a cooling sensation in the aftertaste.
It’s one of the better Nilgiri’s I’ve had. Even though I don’t have a mental map, I can remember that though I’ve liked some of those I’ve had in the past, none of them have really bowled me over.
This one comes close, which is why I’m sad it’s no longer around.
Flavors: Berry, Caramel, Coffee, Smoke
I still have a number of unopened packets of tea from the Simple Leaf, which I’m pretty sure has been defunct for a while now. I hoarded these teas because Steepster was in love with the Simple Leaf for a while and I expected I’d have a treat on my hands.
And I do. This is a great Assam — it has everything I like about Assams and none of the things I don’t like about them. Whether this has anything to do with the tea’s age is an open question, but let’s assume the vacuum sealing did its job since it’s hard to imagine a tea this flavorful that was stale.
The leaves smell sweet and bready in the packet, like those King’s Hawaiian rolls. The steeped tea is a clear, medium orange-brown. Pretty much what I’d expect.
The aroma, though, is amazing. It has so many layers, so many different notes that mix together into a really delicious whole. There’s a cocoa note, a fresh bread note, honey and even something I’d describe as gingerbread.
And these come together in the flavor as well. There’s a smoothness to the tea that makes it feel lighter than the stoutness I sometimes get with Assams, and that also makes it somewhat easier on the throat.
I’m sad there won’t be the option to get more of this in my future.
Flavors: Bread, Cocoa, Ginger
This is what motivated me to wake up in the morning. I love Darjeeling oolongs; because of how diverse they are. This particular assortment of greens, blacks, and golds was not the exception. The brew was incredibly light. It brewed up a cup with the scent of fresh trees and morning dew. The taste was a light mixture of minerals and hay. This brew carried a vegetal grassy undertone. I feel that if this brew was any lighter it would float away, (My bad joke for the day…)
Flavors: Hay, Mineral, Sweet, Warm Grass
’Here’s Hoping’ Teabox Round #4 – Tea #14
A great Darj here – very light and fruity, just the way I like them. Very syrupy texture somehow. The second steep was delicious too. Darjeeling always seems so elaborate but I never have enough to say about them.
Steep #1 // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 min steep
Steep #2 // 15 min a.b. // 2-3 min
I am tasting this tea thanks to the amazing JacquelineM who miraculously produced a sample of this long unavailable tea. When I first joined Steepster, this tea was all the rage. I put it on my wish list, but the company that sold it – sob! – closed before I could buy any. I think losing the opportunity to try this legendary tea bothered me more than any other that “got away.”
And here I am with a generous sample. She could have sold this on the black market to some tea head for lots of money, but instead she sent it to ME! And I saved it for my birthday, which is today! This is my evening cuppa, a treat for myself in the quiet now that the day is winding down.
This is beautiful, beautiful leaf. Dark, long, twisted leaf that is highly aromatic, especially when you scent your cup first. (Thank you, Garret, at Mandala Tea for teaching us to do that. It adds so much to the experience. Pour your hot water in your empty pot, let it warm a moment, then pour out the water and add the leaf. Put the lid on for a moment. Now, lift the lid and take a long, deep sniff of the pot and leaves. Once you have experienced the aromas, add your hot water and steep.)
This is an extremely complicated tea. I am so glad I tried the hojicha first because my thoughts went something like this: Cocoa! Rough cocoa! Roasted cocoa! Roasted….something….coffee, caramel, smoke like hojicha, and…was that a hint of cinnamon? Chicory, yes, it is there also.
No wonder everyone loved it. Thank you so much, JacquelineM, for blessing my birthday with “the one that got away.”
On another note, when I looked up the plantation on google I saw an article that said a tea garden manager of that area was abducted in fall of 2012 and held in the jungle by some group – I forget now exactly who – but had been rescued. Oh my! Glad to read that he was rescued.
Surprise to me! Had a little bit of this left that had woodged down to the bottom of my “loose ends” packet. First sip just after steeping made me wonder if it’d lost its oomph, but it strengthened considerably after driving with me this morning.
Dark, just on the edge of a bitter bite, and a little grapey on the finish. Sticks to your tongue long after you’ve swallowed.
Here’s to “oh, I forgot I had that!” serendipi-tea.
This is ancient, even by my sloppy standards. The company closed long, long, long ago. Brought some to work, slightly oversteeped it, added a little creamer (yeah, I know that’s a Darjeeling rule-breaker), and whaddya know—it still tastes like a decent Darjeeling, grape peel and all. Now grocery-store quality rather than top shelf, but absolutely drinkable.
This one is getting old, but it’s still juicy, not too acidic, a little cocoa taste at the very bottom of each sip. (Have been doing much troubled philosophical pondering this week on the validity of the “it has to be new to be good” mindset, so this was a good fit.)
I don’t give Darjeelings enough time and consideration. This is good.
We all have our reasons for morning tea selections, some sensible, some a little less so—today, I had a wicked sore in my mouth and needed something that would be compatible with a jawful of Orajel.
Don’t know why this seemed to be the one, but it’s been gentle and non-acidic and a little fruit-juicy this morning. (My previous note called it “cereally;” either the goop has really flipped out my taste buds or it’s just an all-purpose breakfast Darjeeling.)
Many thanks to Doulton for sending me this tea! I had some Simple Leaf teas on my wish list and before I could order, they closed. Oh the frustration of reading about an amazing tea and then finding that you can never ever have any!
Thanks to Doulton I will get to try a Simple Leaf tea!
I sniffed the dry leaves when I opened the pouch. There was not much aroma to the dry leaf, but they were very interesting leaves, pleasantly twisted and curled. The tea itself has a nice malty aroma. Malt smells like puppy feet to me, a scent I love! This is a light malt aroma, not too strong.
The tea tastes very good. I have had a few Assams that smack me in the face, especially CTC ones. This is a very civilized breakfast cup, slightly astringent but pleasantly so, flavorful enough to blast through the groggies, and smooth enough not to offend my delicate tummy.
I can’t wait to see how youngest likes it when she gets home from her slumber party with Sandy’s dogs, who have now seen every sci-fi movie made. She loves Irish breakfast teas, so I think this one will be right up her alley.
I know, I know, it’s way past its prime now, but I hoarded my last 1/3 packet of this for cold weather sipping; even when it’s elderly, it’s heavy and luscious and cocoa-y.
When (ha!) I get time to be scientific about it, I’d love to put this side-by-side with my new favorite Fujian Congou from Nature’s Tea Leaf. I think in previous notes I whinged a little about not having an equivalent once my Dawn was Done, but I’m thinking that there may be some strong similarities. (Which would explain why I am so crazy about the FC.)
Was able to carve out a very few brief moments to enjoy this at my parents’ farm yesterday before a day full of packing, power washing, and insurance headaches. I think I may be getting my chops back - could really enjoy the dark, cocoa essence that I’ve been reading about.
In case you need to know, it is impossible to put one’s life completely back together from scratch in three weeks working 14-16 hour days. Therefore, since it’s a lost cause anyway, I am going to resolve to carve out a little time to restore with a cuppa and a good book (right now, I’m hanging on to my Good Book for dear life) every day. Life can wait.
Thanks again, Doulton, for providing this lovely respite-in-a-pouch.
The Final Sipdown: Day 26.1
The tea. The tea. The tea is on fire. We don’t need no water, let the…
This tea is smoky. Smoky in a way that has me on the fence between wood burning fire and cigarettes. It would be full on firewood, if it weren’t, maybe ironically, for the vegetal quality underlying the whole thing. For me it’s giving it that nicotine-y tinge that’s making me think I won’t be finishing this cup.
The other flavors in it are savory and salty. There’s also a peppery note that is hitting the tip of my tongue. This is one of the least grassy green teas I’ve ever had, and were it not for the lightness of flavor beneath the smoke [and the coloring of the liquid] I may have pegged it for a black tea.
The sweeter notes don’t come into play for me until the end, and then it has an almost fruity sense about it. That fruit, however, is lending a more sickly quality than sweet and fresh…until the aftertaste really kicks in and the liquid is completely gone. Then it’s like a Febreze commercial.
I don’t know. I don’t mind a smoky tea, but this one’s poking at my gag reflex. The combination of flavors just doesn’t make any sense to me, and there isn’t really anything enjoyable about the profile as a whole. A pleasant aftertaste alone does not a good tea make.
Ah well. I appreciate Carolyn sending this to me nonetheless. And now it’s gone! Good things all around.
Teas Downed: 32