Simpson & Vail

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Recent Tasting Notes

78

It will be interesting to see what this tastes like, as it has been living in its paper sample bag in a plastic container along with other Simpson & Vails, some of which are florals, in their paper sample bags.

The dry leaves are small and medium in the tippy and curly department. They smell a little perfumey, which scares me some.

The tea steeps dark, darker than I’ve seen in most yunnans. A clear, dark mahogany. The aroma is malty-deep, slightly sweet, with just a hint of pepper. The perfume smell doesn’t carry over into the aroma, fortunately.

The flavor is surprisingly mild given the dark color and smell, but flavorful. Gentle on the stomach. There’s just the smallest amount of perfume carry-over, but not enough to give the tea an altogether different flavor from what it is. It’s not the best yunnan I’ve had, solid, but not overly interesting. It sort of reminds me of the Numi Chinese Breakfast.

I suspect I’ll sip this one down easily and quickly, both because it’s a pleasant drink and because with all the other yunnans in my cupboard that I prefer to this one, I’d rather sip down this one as a distraction from focusing on the others.

Now for the life update. No need to read if you’re in this for the tea. ;-)

Sorry I’ve been rather scarce. I’m still getting a feel for the new routine. I’ve been doing coffee first thing in the morning for the extra alertness jolt with fast preparation time, taking tea with me in the Timolino, typically a green of some sort, and always one I’ve written about before and so far there hasn’t been much to add by way of notes.

There is tea at work, by the way. There’s a full Starbucks in one of the campus buildings, and a variety of bagged Numi teas in the kitchen on my floor. I also brought some tea to work. Essentially all the bags I have left. I haven’t actually steeped any yet though. I’ve been occupied with trying to learn everything there is to learn which makes the time fly and before I know it, the day is gone and I haven’t made any tea at work again.

On the home de-cluttering front: continued success! This morning I packed up five boxes for storage, mostly my old toys I’d saved from childhood for the kids that they’ve outgrown and the toys they have sentimental attachment to but don’t play with anymore. With that, the toy project is pretty much done except for the random things that continue to turn up in weird places. I can pretty much be assured to find at least one Lego in every drawer in the house if I look hard enough. ;-)

So to recap: toys are done, office is done. What’s left? Books and clothes, mostly.

Last weekend we took some books to the library to donate. They don’t put them in the library but they sell them for fundraising. There will probably be another box or two of these coming as I finish going through the kids’ books with them, but there aren’t too many left to go through. Then there will be are a few boxes of books to store—baby favorites that they don’t want to let go but don’t look at much anymore.

The book project was pretty amusing. Who knew we had five copies of Goodnight Moon, until we looked through everything?

I’m hoping to finish some of this packing up this weekend, but I’m not going to stress about it. As long as I continue to see progress, I think I can keep motivated to finish.

The one thing that has suffered in all of this is my writing. I have several stories I’ve workshopped and need to revise, and some stories that have been sent back from magazines that need to be resubmitted. Maybe I’ll be able to make an hour or two tomorrow to work on my Writers of the Future entry for this quarter. According to my readers it only needs some minor revision, so if I can get it revised, I can set it aside until next weekend, do a reread, and submit if I can’t think of anything else to do to it.

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Molasses, Pepper

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Mike

Might have to give this a try! Also, you’ve inspired me to grab a couple bags of my Numi Chinese Breakfast when I get home later! :)

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100

Very refreshing! When you first open the can you get the very strong aroma of pear, but it doesn’t come across in the taste after brewing. It is light and crisp, which offsets the potential bitterness of green tea. I definitely recommend this one for those who don’t mind a flavored green tea.

Flavors: Pear

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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70
drank Decaf Assam by Simpson & Vail
951 tasting notes

As errands cost me time to drink some puerh before it was too late for me to have caffeine I thought I’d drink this. This is a fairly tasty black tea. I do not know how it compares to other assams of the non decaf nature. This one is good overall. It has little in the way of bitterness, astringency, or malt. It has a bit of a fruity flavor to it, I’m not sure which fruit I would identify it with. On a bad point it has a bit, just a bit of a sour note to it. Not enough to bother me though. As tomorrow is my first day at a new job I didn’t want to have anything with caffeine after four o clock as I need to sleep tonight and I already have insomnia. Simpson and Vail has done well with the decaf teas of theirs I have tried. Most have been good. They don’t noticeably lower the quality rung to get a decaf. I know some decaf are just horrible but this one is alright, good for an afternoon like this. I usually cold brew their decaf teas which works well too.

I brewed this one time with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper for 3 min.

Flavors: Fruity

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Teatotaler

I really love Assam but, like you, I need to avoid caffeine at times in the evening. Think I just might have to order this one!

OMGsrsly

Hope your first day goes well! :)

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84

Standard green tea with light rose scent. Delicious.

Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Green, Rose

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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84

Usually you can tell in the flavor when a black tea is decaf, but not with the decaf teas from S&V. I love being able to drink a black tea at night when I’m craving one. I know that a black tea isn’t entirely empty of caffeine but there is certainly much less than a typical black tea. I wouldn’t be able to tell this is decaf and the black tea itself is actually quite strong in flavor. Definitely not weak and odd flavored like some decaf teas can be. I love the idea of a flowery Earl Grey. This one is lighter on the bergamot, or possibly the lavender takes over and drowns out the bergamot. I see plenty of lavender and roses in the blend but the rose is harder to distinguish. I would have liked all three elements to be more balanced in this blend (maybe by not including as much as the lavender?), but otherwise this is a great decaf.

Sipdowns 1/15: Andrews & Dunham – Yunnan Gold Tips None 1/16 and 1/17 Bluebird’s Lemon Sherbert
Nicole

I agree. I like the overall floral nature of this blend even though a bit more balance would be perfect.

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Thank you to the lovely Phi for this blend! I am quite enjoying it. The roasty coconut flavor is refreshing and super yummy as an iced tea. It’s a nice counter balance after a heavy meal. Sipdown!

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78

This tea has light floral notes and is somewhat vegetal. It is a nice green. It’s hard for me to judge the sweetness of the tea because I added suger. It is pretty good as green teas go. Simpson and Vail ran a promotion on this tea and gave out a free ounce in a mini tin.

I steeped this one time in a Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 175 degree water for 3 min.

Flavors: Floral, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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92
drank St. Nick's Tea by Simpson & Vail
1921 tasting notes

I thought I had copied and pasted this one from a couple days ago:
Just in time for the holidays here is a delicious one: cocoa and almonds! There are certainly plenty of cocoa nibs and almonds here. The flavor is mostly a delicious milk chocolate with hints of almond on a medium strength black tea. There should also be vanilla and maple here, but I’m not tasting much of those. Maybe the sweetness of the maple is combining with the chocolate…it’s almost like a creamy whipped chocolate candy. The second steep is a little nuttier probably because the almonds were soaking in the wet tea leaves for a bit. This is certainly a tasty blend though, especially when I’m craving chocolate. I’m glad I bought some. Delicious stuff. I hope everyone is having the best holidays possible!

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This is very floral. The scent is really nice and natural, not artificial smelling like perfume, but like flowers. Rose and lavender were the foremost notes in the liquor, bergamot took midrange for me and the rosemary I’m not sure about. I prefer this before it cools. After cooling, it takes on an unwelcome sweetness with the pure floral notes fading. The tea base blends well with the florals, a mild strength black tea. Going to experiment a bit with steeping parameters. It was good enough to drink it all, but I feel like there is more to be had from this tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
Chey

One of my weaknesses — literary inspired tea blends! Floral, too!

gmathis

I’ve been pondering whether I’d associate floral flavors with Will. (Ale, yes; tobacco and musty theater, yes; roses…hmmm? :)

Chey

I agree! Maybe if it was individually themed to each play, eg. one of his romances – rose would be more appropriate – but I would definitely go for something more malty or smokey, haha.

Chey

Black – ink coloured!

Nicole

While tobacco and malt would go well with a theater atmosphere, he actually used flowers very frequently in his works. There is a small park inside Central Park in NY that is a Shakespeare garden with flowers and herbs he mentioned. Here are just a very few of my favorites. :)

From Midsummer Night’s Dream: I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.

From The Winter’s Tale: Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.

From Hamlet: There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue
for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you
some violets, but they withered all when my father
died: they say he made a good end,—

And of course, one of the most famous:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

I love the tragedies and histories best so when I think of the Bard I think of metallic tang of weapons, coppery scent of blood and smoke of burning buildings. Not the most appealing of flavors to put in a tea, I imagine, though. :)

gmathis

(Adding to my reading list!!!!) Love the Winter’s Tale passage.

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55

I thought I would buy some of this jasmine and add it to whichever tea I choose, whenever I’m having a craving for jasmine. The dry leaves look like full flowers and also drier looking single petals. I tried these brewed on their own, a ton of leaves went into the brew basket. I brewed them for around ten minutes close to boiling. Sadly, the scent and the flavor isn’t as much of a jasmine explosion as I would have liked. I knew from the scent from the pouch that the flavor wouldn’t be what I was hoping. Really, it seems more of a vegetal flavor somehow… really really vegetal. It seems more like chrysanthemums to me, but that could be that in both instances, you’re brewing flower petals without tea leaves. Maybe I’m just not using the correct parameters. (S&V suggests brewing for five minutes at 212 degrees.)

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80

This is a nice blend, very much in the tradition of an Irish Breakfast. I think it’s a little lighter, and not quite as brisk as the Irish Breakfast I’m used to (I usually get Twinings), but it’s still very flavorful.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

Peach and green tea are so great together. I really like that they used a gunpowder green base for this, it gives the green tea flavor a little extra punch. I don’t taste coconut, or see it in the mix — or even listed in the ingredients — but I do get a lot of tropical fruit flavors backing up the peach, and it’s a really nice combination.

The only downside is that this tea is powerfully astringent, so much so that my whole mouth and throat feel dry, so I’m going to chase this tea with a glass of water and brush my teeth now.

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50

Dry, the leaves smelled a bit like cinnamon. Steeped, they smelled like perfume, which gave me a bit of panic, since I really can’t take those perfumey teas. Happily, it doesn’t actually taste like perfume, but it definitely has some floral aspects. And I do taste a light spice note, though not cinnamon necessarily. I think it’s a reach to call this coconut, though. I get a tiny hint of coconut way in the background, but it is faint compared to all the other flavors.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Fjellrev

What a misleading name then. If something is supposed to have creamy, toasted coconut, damn straight I’m going to expect that rather than cinnamon and perfume.

Tamarindel

Yeah, it’s not a good approach to the flavor at all :( And then I ended up dumping the cup about half way through because the perfume notes started going to my head.

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60

Cold steeped this one too, but ughhh, that was not a good idea. The chocolate notes, which I couldn’t taste at all when I steeped at 180F, are now very strong but also very bitter. The hay notes are still there, and the astringency is somehow stronger than ever. I do get some of the strawberry, but it is overwhelmed by everything else happening in the glass. Welp, experiment concluded. This is NOT the way to prepare this tea.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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60

Really great strawberry flavor to this, but I’m not getting any of the chocolate notes mentioned in the description, and I do not like this base. It’s green tea, but it tastes like white, a very hay-type white. I thought my water was fairly cool for this, but I will probably go even cooler next time, or maybe even a cold steep, as it’s quite astringent.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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70

Hmm, this one’s not bad but not particularly memorable. I get some vanilla and maple, but nothing I would call a cream flavor. Also the base has notes of hay, the kind you usually find in a white tea, which sort of works against the smoothness I’d expect from cream.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

Light bacon notes. This kind of reminds me of Teavivre’s Xin Yang Mao Jian, but it’s not nearly as strong. Sort of falls between the Xin Yang Mao Jian and a light dragonwell. This doesn’t seem as astringent today as the first time I had it, though I’m still getting a little of that effect.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

This one smelled a bit bacony in the tin. The leaves are very wiry; I had to pull them apart to measure a teaspoon, and even then, it was more of a guess. Steeped up, it tastes mostly vegetal. A note of chard, I think. There may be just a hint of bacon in the flavor, but I can barely make it out. This is definitely a savory tea, though. Also on the astringent side.

I notice there are several teas out there called “Cloud & Mist” but I haven’t figured out yet what this is referencing. Do they all come from a particular region? This one doesn’t taste anything like the Teavana Cloud & MIst I tried, though they are both good quality.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

Welp, polished this sample off. The combination of chocolate and maple was really good. The base was fairly ordinary, but didn’t get in the way and really let the flavorings come through. This tea also went well with a little cream.

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85

S&V kindly included this as a sample in my order, and it’s really delicious. I’ve come to assume that any tea that hints at Christmas in the name is going to loaded with spices, but this is actually a chocolate maple tea. Tastes best with sugar and a little cream.

AllanK

Simpson and Vail is always good with samples. If I request a specific sample with my order they always put it in.

Tamarindel

Oh that’s good to know. I didn’t even think to request anything, though I’m glad I got a chance to try this one.

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60

This blend has a pleasant fruity flavor, a bit sweet, but doesn’t pack quite the punch I was expecting. I guess I just assumed it was a breakfast tea, but it’s really more of a light afternoon tea. I get a lot of grape from this, though the label says currant. I guess the flavors are sort of close.

One thing I’m picking up from all these Simpson & Vail teas is this after-effect, more a sensation than a flavor, that I usually associate with decaf tea. It’s hard to put my finger on, kind of a drying of the mouth. I know that’s usually associated with astringency, but none of these teas taste astringent, so I don’t even know what to call it. It’s weird though, because the bases in these teas aren’t even the same, so I don’t know why they would all share this trait.

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70

A pretty straightforward version of Moroccan mint; still, it’s a good balance between the green tea and mint, does the job nicely.

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