Simpson & Vail

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Recent Tasting Notes

drank Creme Brulee by Simpson & Vail
66 tasting notes

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90

Getting over my cold since last weekend and my taste buds are back into action today. Per my usual 3pm green tea ritual I decided to taste something a little more tart. The wonderful fruity scent of this tea is what made me run to the cash register at the S&V tea shop last year. After steeping at the full 3 min, the color turned a pale pink and the scent still remained as my co-worker piped in how she loved the scent from across the room! The taste is quite tart due to the hibiscus, but not too much that is has turned me off as there are sweeter notes due to the honey and almond. After finishing the cup I am treated to a great light fruity aftertaste that still lingers on my tongue for a while. All I can say is yum!

Flavors: Almond, Cherry, Fruity, Hibiscus, Honey, Raspberry

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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83

I’m starting to really get into Ceylonese black teas. It took forever, but I’m just now getting to a point where I feel like I’m beginning to appreciate them. Maybe the heat has me reaching for simple, yet flavorful black teas, or maybe I’m just starting to appreciate them for what they are. Anyway, this is the most recent Ceylonese tea I tried. I meant to post this review yesterday, but I got sidetracked and ended up spending my evening listening to music.

I prepared this tea using my normal preparation for non-Chinese black teas. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. I did not perform any additional infusions. I, however, did try a slightly longer infusion length of 4 minutes at one point. The results were not all that different from the initial preparation though, and I actually thought the shorter steep time was a little smoother. I will, therefore, be limiting my review to the initial preparation described above.

In the cup, the infused liquor showed a dark amber. I picked up aromas of caramel, toffee, cream, roasted nuts, molasses, and leather on the nose. In the mouth, I detected a smooth blend of cream, toffee, caramel, molasses, walnut, roasted chestnut, toast, and leather. I also thought I detected a fleeting floral sensation, but couldn’t be sure. The finish was rich and robust with lingering impressions of toast, molasses, caramel, roasted nuts, and leather. There was a slight astringency as well, though it did not particularly distract from the lingering taste sensations.

Honestly, when I think of a typical, unflavored black tea from Sri Lanka, I kind of think of a tea like this one. Seriously, if someone were to sit me down and ask me to describe what I feel to be a totally stereotypical Ceylon black tea, I would point to this tea. That may seem like a knock, especially since I have made my ambivalence toward many Ceylon teas known in the past, but I do not really mean it that way. I just mean that the aroma and flavor profiles are representative of the Ceylonese black teas I have tried over the course of my life. Please understand that I’m not bragging, but if I were to have tried this tea in a blind tasting, I would have know that it was a Ceylon tea. To be perfectly frank, my complaints with Ceylon teas often revolve around astringency and lack of body, and well, I don’t really have those complaints with this tea. It is not too astringent, has a good body with a smooth texture in the mouth, and displays a pleasant, if not particularly complex mix of aromas and flavors. I like it. I wouldn’t call it a great tea, but I do think it is very good.

Flavors: Caramel, Chestnut, Cream, Floral, Leather, Molasses, Toast, Toffee, Walnut

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

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75

This tea inspired me to write a very long piece (mostly a digression) about the duality of Shakespeare’s work. If you are interested in my typing at length about what traits a Shakespeare tea should or should not have, depending on your Shakespeare preferences, you absolutely should read the post I wrote for SororiTea Sisters.

Same Starling Ranting, slightly different Starling channel (every once in a while):
http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/08/25/william-shakespeares-black-tea-blend-simpson-vail-2/

MrQuackers

I just think it’s an advertising gimmic. Like naning a Subway aub after a famous football player.

Super Starling!

Adagio Teas has these “fandom blends” that are supposed to channel different characters. I’ve totally bought a bunch of them because I wanted to know what the characters tasted like. (Okay, that sounded dirty, but you know what I’m saying). I also want to try Vampyre Teas’ Bela Lugosi’s Ashes for that same reason. We’re all suckers for our fandoms. (No pun intended about vampires. That just happens to be sometimes).

mtchyg

Awww. Look at you blogging at sororiteasisters. So cool. :)

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91

I’m starting to catch up on my reviews again. I finished the last of this tea yesterday. All I can say is that I have finally found a Ceylonese black tea that I really enjoy.

I prepared this tea using the simple one step Western infusion that I always seem to use for non-Chinese black teas. As usual, I did not attempt multiple infusions. I steeped 1 teaspoon of this tea in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes.

In the cup, the liquor was lighter than most Ceylon teas I have tried. Rather than being a dark amber, this one was a brilliant gold. The color was surprising to me because it was very reminiscent of Darjeeling. On the nose, I picked up delicate aromas of wood, toast, straw, toasted almond, malt, cream, honey, spice, and dried leaves. In the mouth, I detected delicate impressions of wood, straw, cream, malt, toast, honey, toasted almonds, dried leaves, and nutmeg, as well as a subtle note of white grape that is most noticeable on the finish.

I recall reading a review of another Lovers Leap Estate black tea by a fellow Steepsterite (yes, I’m talking about you Teatotaler) that referred to it as a poor man’s Darjeeling. I can totally see where this individual was coming from with that assertion. Compared to many other Ceylonese black teas that I have tried in recent months, this tea’s lighter flavor profile with its notes of straw, honey, and grapes is really reminiscent of Darjeeling. The comparison is not exact, however, as this tea does not entirely match the aroma and flavor profiles of most typical Darjeelings, but there are more than enough similarities present between the two to put one in mind of the other. For me, the only real tip off that this was indeed a Ceylonese tea was that ever present leafy aroma and flavor I always seem to associate with Ceylon black teas. Okay, enough rambling. This is a very good black tea. I could see this going over well with fans of Ceylonese and Indian black teas alike. Even if you-like me-are not a huge fan of Ceylon teas, you may want to give this one a try. You may very well find it just different enough to really make an impression.

Flavors: Almond, Autumn Leaf Pile, Cream, Honey, Malt, Nutmeg, Straw, Toast, White Grapes, Wood

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

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79

Picked this one out today to brew in my new Breville Tea Maker. I filled the thing with about a liter of filtered water and about 7 tsp of leaf and turned the thing on. In five minutes I had a nice black tea. I picked a decaf out because I have insomnia and stop real tea by two or three in the afternoon. This one is overall pretty good. It’s got a nice note from the mango and the black tea is in there too. I no longer see this on the Simpson and Vail website so it looks like it is no more. While this doesn’t really compare to a real black tea made by someone like Whispering Pines it is still pretty good. I find the decaf teas made by Simpson and Vail to be generally high quality. Any time you turn a tea into a decaf you lose something in translation but this is pretty good.

I steeped this one time in a Breville Tea Maker with 7 tsp leaf and approximately 1 liter of water for about 5 minutes.

Flavors: Mango

Preparation
Boiling 7 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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95
drank Moroccan Mint by Simpson & Vail
2074 tasting notes

A sample from my last order! Very simple blend but very delicious! A very sweet gunpowder green base, not vegetal flavored at all with even sweeter spearmint. No peppermint, only spearmint. So refreshing and perfect for so many tea times. It’s one of the best minty gunpowder greens I’ve ever tried… another example of S&V’s magic. One and a half teaspoons is the perfect amount for a mug. It never gets bitter… only surprisingly sweet.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 25 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 20 minutes after boiling // 2-3 minute steep

TeaKlutz

Oooo… this sounds amazing; I’ll have to try it!

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80

I bought this with my last order a while back. A black tea with pumpkin spice flavor. Usually, a ‘flavor’ of spices without actual spices doesn’t hit the spot for me, but this one is tasty as it is. The spice flavor is definitely there, especially in the first steep. I’m not really sure if I should be tasting much actual pumpkin… possibly the spice flavor is giving my brain the idea that there should be pumpkin. OR the black tea itself, which is light and might be the best base to pair with some sort of squash flavor is giving me that idea as well. The brew color even looks squash colored. Either way, I’d love if there was actual pumpkin pieces in the blend or more pumpkin flavor.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep

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90

Full review:
http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/08/22/add-tea-title/

I LOVE being surprised – or better yet – proven wrong – by a tea and Jane Austen’s Black Tea Blend from Simpson & Vail Tea did exactly that! This is just what I needed to start my day on a crazy Monday morning! I just might have to buy this one in bulk and soon! This is a heavy-duty tea that gets a GOLD STAR from me!

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89

Our Guest Blogger SuperStarling reviewed this – check it out! Even some of her artwork within the post!

http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/08/25/william-shakespeares-black-tea-blend-simpson-vail-2/

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89

First and foremost the powerful aroma smacked me in the face as soon as I opened the bag! This is some STURDY stuff! William Shakespeare’s Black Tea Blend from Simpson and Vail is like a special flavored Earl Grey. Not just your standard EG but with a little extra something. But the aroma was magnified that is for sure!

The full review and family tree connection can be seen here
http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/07/31/william-shakespeares-black-tea-blend-simpson-vail/

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76
drank Chocolate Mint by Simpson & Vail
66 tasting notes

I decided to give this tea another shot. I made a pitcher of iced tea with it, and honestly, that’s where it really shines. It is far, far better cold than hot. Iced with a little sugar, the chocolate and mint flavors both come out a bit more. Not quite “Thin Mint”, but close enough.

Bumping up the rating a little.

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76
drank Chocolate Mint by Simpson & Vail
66 tasting notes

Well, this is okay. Not bad, but not great either. Just…okay. A lot of S&V’s flavored teas are really nice, but this is one that falls short of the mark.

I think I prefer peppermint’s bite more when it comes to chocolate mint, since that usually comes out tasting like a thin mint or a peppermint patty. Spearmint’s a little too tame. Given the choice I’ll take H&S’s chocolate mint over this, or even Greenfield’s.

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71

Coming from Chittur Taluk in the Palakkad district of the Indian state of Kerala, this organic black tea is listed by the merchant as being one of the most unique teas in the region. I like that this is an organic tea that is very food friendly, but I do not think it really holds up to some of the other black teas coming out of South India. Still, it is worth trying.

I brewed this tea using a simple one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. As readers of my reviews well know, I do not normally perform additional infusions on black teas unless specifically recommended by the vendor.

This tea brews up a clear, rich amber. I picked up soft, mild aromas of toast, cream, malt, herbs, straw, molasses, leather, brown sugar, candied orange peel, and sweet potato on the nose. In the mouth, I detected mild, integrated notes of candied orange peel, toast, cream, malt, straw, herbs, molasses, brown sugar, leather, sweet potato, and apricot. The finish was brisk and somewhat fruity with sweet potato, brown sugar, and molasses notes providing balance.

This really isn’t a bad little tea. In my time working with it, I can say that I found it to be very versatile. It has just enough flavor to stand up on its own, but it also makes a rock solid breakfast tea, taking milk, cream, and other additives well. As mentioned earlier, it pairs well with food, complimenting a range of savory dishes capably. I feel that I can safely recommend this tea to fans of South Indian teas who are looking for something a little different and/or looking for something to serve with food, though I doubt I will purchase it again. It doesn’t really have the depth of flavor that I look for in black teas and it also lacks the floral character I enjoy in other South Indian teas. Still, it’s not bad.

Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Herbs, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Orange, Sweet Potatoes, Toast

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

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88

I haven’t been as active in my reviews lately because I have been a little under the weather for the past week. I still have a backlog of reviews I need to hurry up and post, but aside from this tea, I have not really tried anything new. I should be back up to speed within the next week though.

This tea is a Nepalese black tea. It comes from a region that not only borders Darjeeling, but is said to have virtually identical growing conditions, so one can expect this tea to share at least a few similarities with Darjeeling teas. While there are indeed similarities, this tea has a character that clearly separates it from the black teas produced across the Indian border.

I brewed this tea using the method recommended by Simpson & Vail. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 212 F water for 3 minutes. I did not perform any additional infusions, as I usually do not resteep black teas unless specifically recommended by the vendor. I did try a slightly longer steep time at one point, but was not thrilled with the results, so I went back to using the vendor’s suggestions.

The infused liquor showed a clear orange in the glass. This was the first indication that this tea was not going to be a Nepalese copycat of an Indian Darjeeling, as I’m used to seeing either a slightly more golden or amber hue in Darjeeling teas. The nose revealed delicate aromas of honey, toast, malt, almonds, nutmeg, and orange. In the mouth, I detected distinct notes of cream, toast, almonds, malt, honey, straw, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange underscored by traces of wood, grass, and herbs. The finish was particularly interesting, as it offered powerful notes of cream, almonds, nutmeg, and orange along with a faint woodiness.

Honestly, I expected this tea to sort of be a Nepalese Darjeeling, but it very much has an identity all its own. It is spicier, creamier, and more citrusy than a Darjeeling. To me, it also lacks the distinctive Muscat grape presence of many Darjeelings as well. I could see Darjeeling fans being into this one, though I also think it has more than enough character to appeal to tea drinkers who are not necessarily impressed with Darjeelings. All in all, this tea is definitely worth checking out if you do not mind the idea of a unique black tea with a slight Indian influence.

Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Cream, Honey, Malt, Nutmeg, Orange, Straw, Toast, Wood

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

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61

Finally coming back to black tea after a stretch that saw me primarily drinking oolongs, I decided I needed to clean out some more of the black teas that had been in my keep for awhile. This Indonesian black tea was the first one I came to, and since it had been kept under wraps at the back of my tea cabinet since somewhere around April, I decided to go with it. I made this decision because I’m not super familiar with Indonesian teas and wanted to try and review something that would be totally new to me.

I prepared this tea using a simple Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. I did not perform any additional infusions. To further put this tea’s capabilities to the test, I also performed 4 and 5 minute infusions, but they did not really differ all that much from the 3 minute infusion, so I will limit my review to the initial preparation.

In the glass, the infused liquor showed a dark amber. The nose was not all that strong, though I managed to detect slight aromas of wood, toast, cream, roasted nuts, and leather. In the mouth, the tea presented a rush of wood, brown toast, cream, black walnut, tobacco, leather, and slightly earthy, herbal, spicy notes. There was a slight astringency on the finish, as well as a lingering woody aftertaste with hints of spices, toast, and leather.

In my opinion, this is a decent little tea, nothing more and nothing less. It’s greatest strength is its inherent drinkability. I found this to be one of those approachable black teas that I could drink quite a bit of in one go, which to me means that it is the sort of tea I would pick to unwind with in the afternoon, especially on days where I need a little bit of a pick-me-up to get through the rest of the day. I could also see it making a solid breakfast tea. Its greatest weakness, however, is its lack of depth and complexity. It’s hard not to notice that this tea is very simple-there’s just not a ton going on with it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re just looking for an easy rush of caffeine, but it’s most definitely not a good thing if you are looking for something interesting and challenging. In the end, this tea is a mixed bag. I would recommend it to casual drinkers or people looking for something easy to put away, but I would encourage those looking for something unique and flavorful to maybe look elsewhere.

Flavors: Astringent, Brown Toast, Cream, Earth, Herbs, Leather, Spices, Tobacco, Walnut, Wood

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

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100

Less steeping time and a little more tea can go a long way taste-wise! I like my black teas sweeter and the trick to this tea is to steep it a lot less to make it less bitter. I might try it at a different temperature next time too to see if it affect the taste as well. I love the almond and slight vanilla notes while sipping this tea. It’s like a dessert in a cup :) Had to pass this along to my mother to share the love of this tea.

Flavors: Almond, Nutty, Vanilla

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

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86

It looks like I am the first to get to this one. This lapsang souchong is the only Taiwanese black tea offered by Simpson & Vail at this time. The folks at Simpson & Vail bill this as being heartier than their Chinese lapsang, and I must say that they really aren’t kidding about that.

I brewed this tea using a simple one step Western infusion. Again, I normally do not resteep black teas unless it is specifically suggested by the vendor. To prepare this tea, I steeped one teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. I also tried 4 and 5 minute steepings of this tea, but the aromas and flavors were consistent across the board despite a slight increase in strength and astringency, so I will just stick to presenting the results of the initial 3 minute steeping for this review.

After infusion, the resulting liquor was a dark amber. Strong aromas of woodsmoke, pine, nuts, leather, molasses, and sea salt were present on the nose. I could also detect subtle scents of tobacco and toast. In the mouth, strong notes of woodsmoke, pine, cedar, black walnut, hickory, leather, molasses, tobacco, and sea salt were underscored by subtler flavors of caramel, dark chocolate, and brown toast. The finish was full of smoke and wood flavors with more than a bit of astringency.

Overall, I quite like this lapsang. It really lives up to the description of a hearty black tea provided by the vendor. Honestly, Simpson & Vail’s Chinese lapsang souchong does not even really compare to this one. This lapsang is just so much richer, stronger, and smokier. Still, I don’t expect the many people who are unexcited by any lapsang souchong or really heavy black tea to take to this one at all, but as someone who tends to enjoy lapsang souchong, I cannot say that I would have a problem recommending this tea fairly highly to fellow lapsang aficionados.

Flavors: Astringent, Brown Toast, Caramel, Cedar, Dark Chocolate, Leather, Marine, Molasses, Pine, Smoke, Walnut

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

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90

I’m finally starting to clean out some room in my tea cabinet now. I am preparing to finish the last of this after I type this review. To sum up everything I’m about to say, this is a very nice rose congou at a great price.

I prepared this tea by steeping 1 teaspoon in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. I’ve played around with my brewing technique on this one a little. I’ve found that I can steep this for around 5 minutes with no harsh flavors. I would say it could probably be left even longer without acquiring too much astringency. I also think this would probably make a great iced tea.

After infusion, the resulting liquor is a clear amber. Mild aromas of caramel, rose, cocoa, and cream were apparent on the nose. In the mouth, I picked up distinct notes of cocoa, caramel, cream, butter, and of course, rose. The finish offers a lovely and soothing mix of caramel, cream, and rose.

This tea is not at all complex or deep, but it is very appealing regardless. One thing that helps it is that it is super easy to drink. It also provides just enough black tea flavor to provide a semblance of balance to the floral notes. It’s nice. I recommend it highly.

Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cocoa, Cream, Rose

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

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80

Just a lazy afternoon sipping tea and listening to doom metal. Isole’s pretty awesome. Anyway. Disregard the “Earl Grey” part of this tea’s name. There’s very, very little bergamot in both the flavor and scent. This is, first and foremost, a peach tea.

That said, it’s not a bad tea. The peach taste is strong and accompanied by some sort of creaminess I can’t really put my finger on. Like I said, not all that much bergamot; it’s pretty much lost under the peach and there’s the barest hint of it in the aftertaste. Trying it iced doesn’t change this at all. Either way I’ll gladly finish off my 1 oz. bag, but I wouldn’t go for it if I was wanting Earl Grey that day.

Maybe I’ll throw a bit of plain Earl in with it one time and see how it goes. Couldn’t really hurt, right?

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25

Old Sample from Tea Sipper. Thank You!

Another potentially interesting blend ruined by stevia. Sigh. Not quite as terrible as some stevia teas, meaning I took a few sips before dumping it rather than just one.

Arby Robilliard

Ugg stevia teas are the worst. Does anybody actually prefer the blend with stevia rather than without it? Every one I’ve tried so far would taste great without the stevia.

rosebudmelissa

I don’t know of anyone here on Steepster, but there has to be someone or they wouldn’t sell it that way. I have a few relatives that use stevia, but none of them are loose leaf tea drinkers.

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90

Here I am finally catching up on my reviews. Yay! This time I bring the Steepster world something just a little bit different. This is a unique Japanese green tea currently offered by the good folks at Simpson & Vail. In terms of aroma and taste, I think it falls somewhere between a gyokuro and a traditional Japanese sencha, as it reminds me of both. It does, however, display a few characteristics that I would not normally associate with either of the aforementioned types of tea.

To brew this tea, I settled on a multi-step Western infusion. For those of you who read my reviews, that should come as no surprise, though I should note that I have been brewing a lot more tea gongfu style lately. Anyway, I brewed this tea at 165 F with an initial steep time of 1 minute. Subsequent infusions were steeped for 1.5 and 2 minutes respectively.

First infusion: The infused liquor was a clear, pale green. I got pronounced aromas of edamame, grass, hay, and oddly enough, radish on the nose. In the mouth, I detected robust notes of edamame, radish, grass, hay, sea salt, kale, chestnut, and perhaps just a touch of walnut. There was also a subtle maltiness and corn husk sweetness that became especially evident on the finish.

Second Infusion: The infused liquor was again a light, pale green. Milder aromas of grass, hay, and vegetables were joined by slight mineral, malt, and nut aromas. In the mouth, slightly milder notes of grass, hay, kale, edamame, nuts, and radish were joined by fleeting impressions of earth, seaweed, spinach, and minerals. The finish displayed a pronounced minerality, as well as a pleasant and unexpected swell of grass, earth, hay, and leaf vegetable notes. I did not really pick up any of the corn husk flavor I found in the first infusion.

Third Infusion: Again, the color of the infused liquor was a pale, clear green. I did not detect a ton of aroma. There were fleeting scents of minerals, malt, grass, hay, seaweed, and corn husk, but I had to really struggle to identify them. In the mouth, I picked up a mixture of grass, kale, and seaweed, as well as more than a touch of minerals, but then something interesting happened. The sweetness returned! Around mid-palate I was hit with delicate flavors of chestnut, malt, and corn husk, that continued through a clipped finish with some grassiness and minerality.

Honestly, I could have probably stopped after the second infusion, but I was just so interested to see what else would happen with this tea that I pressed forward. I had hoped the aromas and flavors would not wash out quite as much after one infusion (like you would expect from a really good gyokuro), but that was not really the case. Still, there was enough going on in the second and third infusions to satisfy me, and because the overall flavor profile of this tea really is so unique and interesting, it is impossible for me to give it a poor review. To me, this tea tastes like a cross between a standard Japanese sencha and strong gyokuro with just a bit of the malty, nutty sweetness that I would typically expect from my beloved dragonwell. In the end, this may not be the best Japanese green tea that I have ever tasted, but I really dig it and would not be embarrassed to recommend it to fans of Japanese green teas.

Flavors: Chestnut, Corn Husk, Earth, Grass, Hay, Kale, Malt, Mineral, Seaweed, Soybean, Spinach, Vegetables, Walnut

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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84
drank Kokeicha by Simpson & Vail
94 tasting notes

Before I begin this review, just let me tell all of you that, on a purely personal note, this tea takes me way back. I attended a really strange private middle school in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Kentucky. This really strange middle school required three years of Japanese language and culture coursework as part of its language arts curriculum. Each year a teaching intern would be brought over from Japan to live and teach at this school in this rundown little mountain community. The intern we had during my 7th grade year was really into tea culture, and not only provided me with my first taste of matcha, but also my first ever serious tea experience. Ever since, I have associated any sort of Japanese green tea with this experience, as it was such a formative one for me with regard to my interest in tea.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the tea at hand. Kokeicha is a variant of matcha originating from Shizuoka. This is a relatively new style of tea, as from what I understand, it only traces its origins back to the middle of the twentieth century. In essence, kokeicha is a formed matcha. It is made from a combination of matcha, water, and rice paste and is formed to generally resemble a twig. Indeed, from a distance, it kind of looks like a really dark kukicha. Kokeicha is not normally one of the more popular Japanese teas in the West, and having never tried it before, I jumped at the opportunity to acquire some at a reasonable price.

For this review, I steeped 1 teaspoon of this tea at 175 F for 2 minutes. Second and third infusions were done at 2 1/2 and 3 minutes respectively-I generally prefer longer lengths of time when I resteep green teas as I prefer a stronger flavor and do not mind a bit of astringency. The results of each infusion will be detailed below.

First infusion: The liquor produced was a delicate, pale greenish yellow. I was careful when pouring the water over this tea and managed to avoid the gritty, dusty look one can get when the kokeicha twigs start to crumble. Subtle aromas of grass, collards, spinach, and seaweed were present on the nose. In the mouth, I picked up delicate notes of lemon, collards, spinach, grass, and seaweed. The finish was big on the spinach, grass, and seaweed flavors, though I also noticed a trace of minerality.

Second Infusion: The second infusion produced a liquor that was darker and greener. It was also somewhat cloudier. I noticed strong grass, seaweed, and leaf vegetable aromas with a touch of saltiness and minerals. In the mouth, I picked up strong grass, seaweed, collard, and spinach notes underscored by sea salt and minerals. The finish played up the sea salt, mineral, and leaf vegetable notes.

Third Infusion: The liquor produced was again more green than yellow and quite murky. On the nose, I detected pronounced mineral, sea salt, spinach, and seaweed aromas. In the mouth, there was a subtle grassiness, but more seaweed, sea salt, spinach, and mineral flavors. The finish was heavy on the mineral and seaweed notes with a touch of spinach, grass, and sea salt.

Overall, I really kind of like this tea. Granted, I have nothing with which to compare it as this is my first experience with kokeicha, but I do like the range of aromas and flavors this tea presents. My research suggests that everything I am picking up in this tea is appropriate, so I suppose this is a solid kokeicha. Still, I think I prefer traditional matcha to this, as in my opinion, it is easier to brew. Truthfully, this kind of falls into a gray area for me, as it delivers the aroma and flavor of matcha in a form that lends itself to multiple infusions, yet does not quite display the depth of aroma and flavor I typically look for in a good traditional matcha. I’m glad I picked this one up because I enjoyed it, but I doubt that it will become a regular in my tea cupboard.

Flavors: Grass, Lemon, Mineral, Salt, Seaweed, Spinach

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Super Starling!

That sounds like a REALLY cool and enriching middle school experience. (Much better than my middle school, where we played Red Rover so violently it got banned — and where we caused so much destruction to the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia that we got asked to never return. We were a rough-and-tumble bunch.)
From the school’s perspective, that experience probably got incorporated into college essays and was unique enough to let people into some good colleges. It was probably self-serving. But still helpful to you. That’s really, really amazing.

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43
drank Chunmee by Simpson & Vail
94 tasting notes

In the realm of green teas, chunmee (also chun mee, chun mei, and zhen mei) needs no introduction. It is one of the most popular and widespread Chinese green teas. It is currently grown in several Chinese provinces, among them Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Anhui. It has been widely available in the United States from a number of sellers for years. So, with all of the above fun facts in mind, it is kind of hard for me to review this tea. I mean, what can I possibly say about a tea of this type that has not been said before?

Simpson & Vail’s Chunmee looks just about like every other tea of this type that I have run across. The dry leaves are dusty and green with a slightly lemony, grainy scent. After a 2 minute infusion at 180 F, the resulting liquor was a rich yellow. On the nose, I detected scents of lemon, hay, straw, char, and grass. In the mouth, I immediately detected notes of char, pak choi, Brussels sprouts, grass, hay, straw, and minerals. Subsequent infusions revealed slightly subtler lemon, char, and vegetal, grassy notes with a more pronounced minerality. At no point did I pick up the plum aftertaste described by the people at Simpson & Vail.

Truthfully, I don’t really know about this one. Chunmee is not something I go out of my way to drink all that often. It’s not bad or anything, it’s just kind of plain, and at this point in my life, I’m just a little too familiar with it. In the end, I guess I can file this specific tea under okay, but boring.

Flavors: Char, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Mineral, Straw, Vegetables

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