A Tea Update: Further Thoughts on Simple Loose Leaf

Well, I’ve been a member of the Simple Loose Leaf monthly tea subscription for about nine months now. It doesn’t seem like that long, but I suppose that is because most of the tea rarely sits around for long in my cupboard. I’ve also ordered from them many times to have tea for the month at work.

I’ve found that pretty much every month, there is one tea in which I have no interest. But just one. Generally, I get 4-5 sample packs per month and at least three of them spark my interest. This month, they sent my two favorites, magnolia oolong and Earl Grey, along with a green tea I’m looking forward to trying.

I’ve also discovered that I sometimes enjoy a simply flavored, decaffeinated black tea in the evenings. One month, they sent a decaffeinated vanilla-flavored black tea. This month, it was blackberry-flavored. With a touch of sugar (and milk in the vanilla tea), they’re a lovely warming evening cuppa. I’ve even had that instead of a dessert some evenings. I may actually add a pack of the vanilla-flavored one to my order this month.

My system of using my monthly discount code to buy three types of tea has been working wonderfully. I’m spending much less on tea than I used to, and I always have a lovely variety at my desk. I get one green tea, one black tea, and one oolong tea to keep at work and then drink from the sample packs on the weekends.

Of course, like all relationships, not all days can be good. I’ve had one or two hiccups with Simple Loose Leaf. One possible complaint is that it can sometimes take a while for the tea to ship, but I attribute that to it being a small company and I would rather patronize a small company than always get my tea in two days. As far as specific incidents, once I had a monthly box fail to ship. After inquiring where my box was, they immediately realized their mistake and shipped it out post-haste. The other time, I received my order and realized it was the wrong one. After again apologizing, they immediately shipped out my proper order and I kept both orders. I actually got to try a couple of teas I would not have otherwise ordered, and I had a full-sized pack of tea to gift to a friend of mine on a whim. Even the problems have been overwhelmingly positive experiences, so I will forgive them their quirks.

All in all, I’m enjoying my Simple Loose Leaf subscription. I know I have been remiss at showing off the boxes as they come, so if any readers are interested in seeing each month’s box, I’d be happy to share. I plan on tasting the green tea I received this month with my guywan this weekend, so I will share that. Otherwise, know that I do recommend this service.

Advertisements

Simple Loose Leaf: An Update and Something New and Exciting

It’s been a few months since I last talked about my tea subscription. I’m still a member, which says something, as I usually tire of subscription services in a couple months. While I do get at least one tea every month that I could do without, I’m still finding the “ooh, this looks interesting”s outnumber the “meh”s.

In fact, Boyfriend often snickers at me when I open my new month’s box, as I start looking at teas and end up with a progressively-increasing level of oohs and ahhs. I’ve found some new favorites that I’ve ordered full ounces of. I’ve also determined that 3 oz. of tea will last me roughly a month of work days, so I’ve been placing an order approximately once a month with one green, one black, and one oolong tea to keep at work, and then using my samples on the weekend. This system has been working pretty well, although I’m currently out of oolong tea at home, which is not beneficial for anyone. Anyone who is interested in trying the club can either visit the website directly, or click my personal referral link. Hint: They ship to both the US and Canada.

This month’s box had a Genmaicha green tea (sushi restaurant tea), an Assam black tea (the muscatel note of Assam teas goes well with autumn’s chill), a toasted Mate, and a citrusy herbal blend. While I’m not the biggest mate fan, I know my sister is, so I may see if she wants to try any of my collection of mate samples. But the other three will go quickly, I think, as they are well-suited to the season and my own tastes. I’m still working my way through some of last month’s samples, including a decaffeinated Sencha that I just tried yesterday when I wanted my first cup of tea of the day in the afternoon. It had all the delicate appeal of a cup of Sencha, but I slept rather well that evening without the caffeine.

But Simple Loose Leaf is not content to have a solid monthly tea subscription that appeals to a wide audience of mostly tea purists. No, they want to ensure everyone gets the tea they enjoy with even more precision. To that end, they’re prototyping a personalized subscription, where you can choose up to three out of four options. If you hate anything but plain black tea, you can just subscribe to the Traditional Black Tea club and get only unflavored or traditionally flavored (think Earl Grey, not Mocha Strawberry madness) black teas. Or those who eschew caffeine can choose the Herbal or Caffeine-Free clubs.

They plan on launching this club on the first of January, but only if they have enough interest. So if you are at all intrigued, I encourage you to head over to their website and pre-order one or more of their monthly tea clubs. The link above will give you the option to either join their current tea of the month club, or pre-order a customized tea membership. If they get enough pre-orders, we get our boxes, but they won’t charge us if the experiment doesn’t generate enough interest.

Also, remember that tea club members receive 50% off purchases in their store, so I’ve been able to keep myself in tea for half-price.

Simple Loose Leaf: An Update

So last month, I discussed my first couple months, and a subsequent shop order from Simple Loose Leaf. I’ve continued to receive boxes and thought I’d share further thoughts. This month’s box showed me the value not only of their teas, but also their customer service. You see, May 11th rolled around and I still hadn’t seen a box. Concerned that I might have missed it, I contacted the company to see if there was some delay.

It turns out there was a glitch in their system and my box hadn’t shipped with the rest. The guy I talked to (one of the co-founders of the company) apologized profusely, promised to put my box in the mail immediately, and offered me a discount on my next month to make up for the delay. It was quite possibly one of the most sincere customer service exchanges I’d ever encountered. And just a few days later, I had my tea!

And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. This month’s box was four samples of pure, unflavored, unadulturated tea (well, three teas and a yerba mate). I’ve tried two of them already, an oolong and an Irish breakfast black tea, and both are fantastic. The oolong is a more oxidized oolong with strong honey and floral flavors, while the Irish breakfast has that characteristic Assam raisin note. I’m definitely going to buy more of the oolong. There’s also a Chinese green tea that I haven’t tried yet, but I’m thinking of tasting in the guywan set I got for Christmas.

All in all, I’m so glad I started this subscription and I highly recommend it to any tea lover!

[Disclaimer: I purchased my subscription to Simple Loose Leaf myself and have not been given any incentive in exchange for any review.]

Simple Loose Leaf: First Boxes, and Early Impressions

I mentioned earlier that I had joined the Simple Loose Leaf subscription tea service. To be completely honest, I chose them because they were one of the least expensive options, and I liked that it was a small business run out of the US. I considered some other services, but they either seemed focused on flavored teas, or else had excessive shipping times from being based overseas.

Before I joined, I emailed the company to express some concerns I had, primarily about the types of teas they choose for the box. Andrew assured me they are a company of tea-lovers who love the flavor of tea and are not overly concerned with making tea taste like something else. So I dove in.

I’ve received two boxes, one for March and one for April. Right away, the snow at the end of February put a cramp in their style, and I received a lovely email from Andrew explaining that the boxes would be delayed as weather prevented them from receiving some of their supplies. Sadly, I had hoped that my first box in March would be a birthday box, but it was not to be. That said, once I did receive the box, it was a pleasant gift.

The highlights of the March box were a gunpowder green tea, which came with a sample of spearmint tea to make a Moroccan mint with the recipe and packets of Turbinado sugar included, as well as a lovely Darjeeling. I’ve gotten more into Darjeeling teas with the spring, so that was a nice sample. It also included some herbal and flavored blends I haven’t tried yet.

April’s box had a Fujian black tea and a Taimu Mountain green tea that were a lot of fun to try and right up my alley. It also had some flavors I wasn’t so excited about. There was a Thai Chai that I still haven’t tried, but I like other chais, so maybe it will be good. The really out-there one was Nutty Mocha Mate, which I tried and did not like. I thought it kind of tasted like really weak coffee, which isn’t my preference. It also included a Jasmine Rooibos, which I haven’t tried because I don’t generally like Rooibos, but I like jasmine, so I may try it in the future.

I have to say, my current favorite part of the store is the 50% discount you get with a subscription! I got an order of 4 1-oz. bags of tea recently that I picked myself. It was three oolongs (Four Seasons oolong, Jade oolong, and Magnolia oolong) and their Four Horsemen black tea blend.

Four Seasons oolong is a really lovely, interesting tea. I was out of oolong but in the mood for it. It’s a variety of Tie Guan Yin oolong, which I’ve had before elsewhere and liked, but I noticed a particularly lovely milk oolong quality to it. It’s more subtle than the milk oolong I got from a local tea store and much more refreshing.

Four Horsemen blend is my go-to morning cup of black tea right now when I need a pick-me-up. It’s a blend of Assam, Darjeeling, Yunnan, and Keemun teas and you can pick out the qualities of each. In particular, it has the full body of an Assam, but without smothering the delicate quality of the Darjeeling.

Magnolia oolong is my new favorite tea right now. It’s a scented tea, like a jasmine green tea or a rose black, but the sweet scent of magnolias just go with oolong tea, and bring to mind the slowly-emerging spring. I highly recommend it for spring. I drink it at work when I can’t get outside, but I imagine it would be even more lovely sipped in the garden in the sun under a giant hat among the flowers.

So far I’m impressed with the quality of the teas and the service with Simple Loose Leaf and look forward to more from them. I’ve purchased the subscription myself, so I get nothing in return for this review.