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?

Ginseng Oolong Blend from Simple Loose Leaf

ginseng OolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

A classic Taiwanese Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) blended with just a touch of Ginseng for a satisfying sweetness that isn’t cloying. A masterful blend which features a delightful interplay of Ginseng while maintaining the true essence of our tea, giving you the wonderful taste of flowers, fruit, and herbs.

Ingredients:  Tie Guan Yin, Ginseng

Learn more about this tea here.

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

Taster’s Review:

I’m not usually a huge fan of teas with ginseng.  I’m just not big on ginseng.  I don’t necessarily hate ginseng, I just … don’t love it, you know what I’m saying?  It’s kind of like chamomile for me – I don’t hate chamomile, but I don’t love it either.

That said, I’m enjoying this Ginseng Oolong from Simple Loose Leaf (it came in my July Selection Club subscription box!)  I’ve had a few different Ginseng Oolong teas in my years as a tea reviewer, but, this one might just be the best that I’ve tried thus far, and I think the reason for that is because the ginseng is mild here.  It doesn’t present an intrusive flavor that interferes with my enjoyment of the Tie Guan Yin Oolong.  I like that I taste more Oolong than ginseng.  I like that a lot!

I approached the brewing of this tea the same as I would most any other Oolong – in my gaiwan.  A quick 15 second rinse, followed by a first infusion of 45 seconds.  I added 15 seconds with each subsequent infusion.

The first cup (infusions 1 and 2) is sweet and buttery, very reminiscent of a Tie Guan Yin (which it is) and not so very reminiscent of ginseng.  I do taste a slight earthy/woodsy note from the ginseng, but it melds in a pleasant way with the sweet, slightly “green” notes of the Tie Guan Yin.

The second cup was a little stronger in flavor, and I could taste more ginseng this time but I also tasted more from the Tie Guan Yin.  This cup seemed to be more of an evenly matched combination of ginseng and Oolong tea.  A stronger, earthier note from the ginseng.  Woody notes.  The Tie Guan Yin tasted a little less creamy and a little more sharp with floral notes.  I taste notes of vegetation that unite with the woodsy notes of the ginseng and it’s near seamless in flavor.

Later infusions, I found the ginseng notes begin to wane, which was perfectly alright with me.  The Tie Guan Yin allowed me to explore its flavors.  The floral notes became softer and sweeter, and as I continued to sip, I noticed soft hints of vanilla and notes of fruit that reminded me of a cross between a sweet plum and a ripe peach.

If you want to incorporate more ginseng in your diet, this is the way to do it.  And this one tastes great iced!  A very tasty and energizing glass of chilly refreshment.

I received this tea as part of the sampler pack from the Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club.  You can subscribe to this club – using the coupon code SISTERSELECTION25 and receive a 25% discount when you sign up for the Selection Club!  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.

I love my subscription to the Selection Club!

Blue Spring Oolong Tea from Imperial Tea Garden

Blue_Spring_OolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Description:

In rural China, Blue Spring Oolong is commonly referred to as the compassionate oolong tea.  The name stems from ancient folklore of Guan Yin the Iron Goddess of Mercy, of which this now famous Ti Kuan Yin style tea was named.  Legend has it that drought stricken villagers offered a passing stranger some water.  With the compassionate offering, Guan Yin revealed her true identity and spilled the water into the dry earth and a blue spring appeared miraculously.  In honor of their benevolent Bodhisattva, the Fujian villagers began adding blue mallow flowers to represent the crystal blue spring water.

Blue Spring Oolong’s smooth and mellow character will enhance any tea party. The compassionate nature of this tea make it suitable for gathering with old friends and making new ones.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a lovely little Oolong blend.  The dry leaf is BEAUTIFUL with the purple blossoms that are tossed along with the Oolong tea leaves.

Even though I don’t always infuse my Oolong blends in my gaiwan, I decided to go with a gaiwan brewing for this particular blend because the blend looked more like an Oolong tea than flowers to me.  I don’t know if that’s a suitable reason for my choice, but that’s the excuse I’m going with.  That and I like using my gaiwan.  I like to watch the tightly wound pellets of Oolong tea dance around in the hot water as they unfurl and release their flavor.

My first cup was the combination of infusions one and two following a 15 second rinse.  This cup was delicate with a flavor that was predominately floral with lingering honey-esque notes.  In the distance, I could taste some hints of roasted nuts, but, it was a very distant flavor in this cup.  I suspected that I’d become more acquainted with these flavors in later infusions.

Indeed!  The second cup had stronger notes of that sweet, nutty flavor, but even stronger than the nutty flavors were the intensified floral notes.  The honey-like notes were showing signs of softening.  This cup was really all about the flower!  Slightly sharp, but not unpleasant at all, it had a very beautiful character to it, something that evoked thoughts of springtime in Southern California, when the jacaranda trees are in full bloom.

The second cup was where I started noticing the creaminess emerge, and I like the way the creamy notes melded with the nutty flavors to offer a sweet, creamy taste that was slightly nutty and slightly toasted.  The floral notes seemed to give this dimension an almost vanilla-like flavor.

By the third cup (infusions 5 and 6), I noticed the unification of the nutty flavors with the honey and floral tones.  It became a very fluid, seamless type of flavor, very silky and luxurious to drink.

This tea offered a very enjoyable Oolong experience – it’s one I’d be more than happy to experience again … and again!

Peach Oolong Blend from Rishi Tea


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

Tea Description:

Iron Goddess of Mercy and a lightly oxidized, flowery oolong from Taiwan are paired with dried peaches and the fresh essence of peach. A blush of hibiscus and a hint of sweetness from natural roots lays the foundation for one of Rishi’s most enticing, indulgent and fruity flavored blends.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

I have to be honest, when I saw that there was hibiscus in this blend, I was skeptical.  In my opinion, hibiscus has no place in an Oolong blend.  And even after tasting this Peach Oolong Blend from Rishi Tea – and enjoying it! – I admit that I am still keeping to that opinion.  Hibiscus should not be in an Oolong blend.

So, yeah, I am enjoying this tea.  The Oolong notes are lovely:  sweet, creamy and slightly vegetative.  The peach flavoring enhances the natural fruit notes of the Oolong and I’m really liking that.

The schizandra berries add a touch of berry tartness to the cup – not that it needs it, but it is an interesting dimension to an otherwise very peachy cup.  The hibiscus accentuates the berry notes, but it also enhances the thickness to the body of the Oolong, and this is probably my biggest complaint about the hibiscus here.  Oolong is already a thick, lush tea, it doesn’t need additions that will add to this.  It sort of “ruins” it.  Sure … it’s an enjoyable cup, but I can’t help but think that it would be SO much better without the hibiscus.

Fortunately, there isn’t a strong hibiscus-y flavor … and there is something that saves this tea for me and that’s the licorice root.  I love that hint of licorice.  It is very slight … it isn’t a strong, licorice-y taste.  It doesn’t taste sharp or snappy … it just adds a faint licorice note that keeps me sipping just to experience it.

I don’t think this is a bad tea, I just think that Rishi Tea should rethink the hibiscus addition.  It turned what could be a really good tea into something that is just average, in my opinion.