Simpson & Vail

Edit Company

Recent Tasting Notes

85
drank Creme Brulee by Simpson & Vail
2089 tasting notes

I had my doubts about this one actually tasting like creme brulee but when does S&V NOT deliver on their flavors?!? I would say S&V has some of the most consistently accurate tea flavors. I must have steeped this one perfectly on the first steep because this one tasted so much like creme brulee! The second steep was too hot and steeped too long, therefore ruining the flavor. But the first steep was marvelous! It mostly has that flavor of slightly torched caramel with hints of custard. I think it should have more of a custard flavor but I certainly didn’t expect a sweet burnt sugar/caramel flavor. The black tea base is perfect at a teaspoon and a half. Not too weak of a brew and not astringent. It’s also a solid black tea for showcasing so many of S&V’s great flavors. I will definitely try to steep the remainder of my sample like the first steep.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few minutes after boiling // 4 minute steep

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

15

We have another sample sipdown here. For some reason, the people at Simpson & Vail always send a sample of a flavored tea when I order from them. I normally end up stashing them at the back of my tea cabinet and it seems to take me forever to work through them. I think I had this one for at least 3-4 months before I drank it. I’m glad I was in no rush to try this tea. To this point, it is my least favorite tea from Simpson & Vail.

I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. I did not attempt additional infusions. I really did not see the point.

After infusion, the liquor showed a clear amber in the cup. I noted muddled aromas of caramel, toast, cream, malt, coconut, butter, and raspberry. In the mouth, I got a muddy rush of caramel, toast, cream, malt, coconut, butter, floral, and raspberry notes. There really was not anything else to this tea.

I’ll be blunt. I did not like this blend in the least. I did not feel that the flavors on display in this tea worked together at all.

Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Coconut, Cream, Floral, Malt, Raspberry, Toast

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

81
drank Pai-Mu-Tan by Simpson & Vail
127 tasting notes

You know, I didn’t realize this until very recently, but I have always unconsciously limited myself when it comes to white teas. In the past, I mostly stuck with silver needle and moonlight white teas, or teas that were very similar to them. Oddly, I never bothered to try white peony, which is especially strange considering that it is one of the more popular and readily available white teas. Recently, I decided that I really needed to try some pai-mu-tan, so I ended up with a 1 ounce sample of this tea. Simpson & Vail seems to not be offering this tea at the time of this review, though they are still selling an organic version of this tea. I bought this one solely because it was cheaper. I figured that if I liked this one, I could always purchase a sample of the organic version in the future and compare the two.

I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped 2 full teaspoons of this tea in 8 ounces of 175 F water for 5 minutes. I also tried a single 4 minute infusion with this tea, as well as multi-step Western infusions and a short gongfu session. This review primarily concerns the 5 minute preparation, though I will briefly comment on the others.

I did not hold out much hope for this tea at first. I noticed that when I was first pouring the water into the glass, the leaves emitted a powerful odor that reminded me of egg yolk. I hate the smell, flavor, and texture of eggs-I literally become nauseated just at the thought of eating an egg or the sight of someone cooking and/or eating eggs. It was an instant turnoff for me, but I decided to persevere. After the prescribed 5 minutes had elapsed, I gave the infused liquor another sniff, and the egg aroma had vanished. I noted delicate aromas of peony, cream, butter, herbs, straw, toast, and honey. In the mouth, I picked up on pronounced herb, straw, butter, cream, toast, peony, and honey flavors. I also noted a very slight spiciness somewhat reminiscent of cinnamon. The 4 minute infusion produced similar results. The multi-step infusion incorporated steep times of 3, 5, and 7 minutes. For this session, I noted powerful herbal, straw, and floral aromas and flavors on the first infusion, creamier and more balanced impressions on the second infusion, and an increase in straw, herb, and spice notes on the final infusion that were accompanied by a subtle mineral presence. For the gongfu session, I utilized approximately 5-6 grams of leaf in 4 ounces of water (I used the same water temperature for each session). The initial infusion was 10 seconds. I increased the steep time by 5 seconds for each additional infusion (15, 20, 25, and 30 seconds). I noted that the tea held its aroma and flavor well through each of these infusions, moving from more pronounced cream, butter, and floral characters to mineral, spice, straw, and herb characters. I also thought I detected a hint of lemon zest that I did not get with any other method.

This tea is hard for me to rate because this is the first time I have tried this type of tea. It was extremely difficult for me to come up with an overall rating for it. I couldn’t compare it to any other white peony tea, so take my rating with a huge grain of salt. I can safely say that I rather enjoyed this tea, though I would probably not choose to drink a tea like this on a regular basis. Still, I am interested in trying other pai-mu-tans from other vendors. As an introduction to this type of white tea, I think this is admirable. I really liked the aromas and flavors this tea displayed, and though I did not fully explore its potential in a longer session, this tea did seem like it could maybe hold its own without embarrassing itself.

Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Floral, Herbs, Honey, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Straw, Toast

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

41

Lately, I have gotten away from oolongs and gone on a Darjeeling kick. It’s not that I got sick of drinking oolongs or anything. I just wanted to clean out some of the Darjeelings I have acquired in recent months. This particular Darjeeling is a first flush tea from the Mim Estate. Normally, I am excited by the Darjeelings offered by Simpson & Vail, but quite frankly, this one did not do anything for me.

I prepared this tea using the one step Western infusion I tend to use for non-Chinese black teas. Again, I know it’s getting popular in some circles, but I just have not reached a point where I feel the need to resteep Darjeelings on a regular basis. With regard to this one, I just didn’t see the need. Anyway, I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 190 F water for 3 minutes. I also tried preparing this tea a couple of other ways. I tried longer infusion times ( 4 and 5 minutes) and increasing the amount of loose tea used from 1 teaspoon to 1 heaping teaspoon, but I did not feel that changing things up like this helped much. To be clear, this review concerns the preparation outlined in full above.

In the glass, the infused liquor looked like every other first flush Darjeeling I have had to this point. It showed a clear, pale gold. I immediately noticed that the nose was weaker than I normally like. It took a couple seconds, but I picked up on very mild aromas of cream, malt, toast, lemon zest, Muscat grape, grass, straw, and herbs. In the mouth, I noticed that this tea offers smooth, integrated notes of lemon zest, grass, herbs, straw, malt, cream, toast, and Muscat grape that are much milder than one would expect. The finish was very clipped, offering lingering impressions of grass, straw, herbs, and Muscat grape underscored by a slight minerality that I was not expecting at all.

As far as first flush Darjeelings go, this one is very mild; actually, I will go a step further and say this one is downright bland. I know it’s not stale because I haven’t had it all that long, and I have had stale Darjeeling in the past, so I have experienced that horror. There just isn’t much to this tea. It is very simple and very light-bodied to the point of being almost watery in the mouth. On the nose and in the mouth it comes off as being too timid for its own good. To be honest, I have no clue what I am trying to say here. This tea just seems so “blah” to me that I am having trouble summoning the energy to review it properly. I’ll give it one thing, it’s very smooth, but I don’t feel there is enough here to satisfy me. I don’t think I will repurchase this one.

Flavors: Cream, Grass, Herbs, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Straw, Toast

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

86
drank Darjeeling by Simpson & Vail
127 tasting notes

One thing you will hear fairly frequently in the tea community is that vendors who do a little bit of everything generally don’t do anything all that well. In a lot of cases I feel that is true. There are, however, a handful of exceptions, and I think that Simpson & Vail is one of them. I haven’t been buying from them for all that long, but of the teas I have purchased, I have had far more hits than misses. This Darjeeling is yet another quality product from the people at Simpson & Vail.

Before I go any further with this review, allow me to share a little bit about this tea. The first thing one needs to know is that this is neither a single estate tea nor a single flush tea. Simpson & Vail source a number of Darjeelings from their partners and blend them to produce this tea. I am not certain which estates these teas come from, but I do know that Simpson & Vail sources Darjeelings from the Dooteriah, Margaret’s Hope, Mim, Ambootia, and Arya Estates, so I would not be surprised if at least a couple of those producers provide some of the teas used in this blend. The second thing one needs to know about this tea is that Simpson & Vail considers this their house Darjeeling. In other words, this is their starter Darjeeling and is meant to serve as an affordable introduction to Darjeeling teas. So, before anyone freaks out, understand that I am making an attempt to review this tea for what it is.

I brewed this tea using a one step Western infusion. I followed Simpson & Vail’s recommendations here. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water. Obviously, I did not attempt additional infusions. Those of you who read my reviews know that I normally don’t do so with non-Chinese black teas unless specifically recommended by the vendor (or unless I just get a wild hair).

In the cup, the infused liquor showed a surprisingly dark golden amber. The nose provided delicate aromas of Muscat grape, cream, straw, honey, malt, toast, and almond. In the mouth, I easily detected a pleasant mixture of malt, toast, Muscat grape, honey, cream, straw, herbs, and almonds. The aftertaste was heavy on cream, grape, and almond notes with a slight underpinning of straw.

I am evaluating this tea on two grounds: 1.) its suitability for its intended purpose, and 2.) its flavor. With regard to the first point of evaluation, I am assuming that this blend is more or less intended to be a budget introduction to Darjeeling teas, a starting point for people who are curious about teas of this type, but may be uncomfortable picking a specific flush from a specific estate. In this regard, I think this blend succeeds brilliantly. It is very accessible and consistent and does a great job showcasing the unique Muscat grape aroma and flavor of quality Darjeelings. With regard to its flavor profile, I can say that while this tea is very simple, it is also very appealing. Obviously, this tea is not going to provide the depth of a really good first or second flush single estate Darjeeling, but then again it is not meant to. I think for what this is, it is more or less very good. Even though I am a huge fan of single estate, single flush Darjeelings, I am still into this tea. I really would have no problem recommending this tea to anyone looking for a basic, affordable everyday Darjeeling.

Flavors: Almond, Cream, Herbs, Malt, Muscatel, Straw, Toast

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

I adore Darjeelings of any kind, single estate or blend. Superb review!

eastkyteaguy

Teatotaler, thank you for the kind words. I adore Darjeelings myself. I honestly think they are probably the most consistent black teas, as I have been drinking them for years and have yet to find a truly bad one. Lately, I have been impressed by the Darjeelings I have been getting from Simpson & Vail. Each has ranged from pretty good to excellent in my opinion. They don’t have the widest selection, but I feel that what they offer constitutes near unbeatable bang for the buck.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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. I might even say that 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 probably just point them toward 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 for what it is.

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

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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. :)

Super Starling!

Mitch, the posts are just as bonkers as they are here. Then I go look around at the other posts and I’m like “these are adults that have earned their spot at this table.” And I try to hunker down. But I honestly forget where I am midway through all of my posts and start stream-of-consciousness talking about the pros and cons of Batman Forever or whatever. (You might be thinking: does she actually do this? Yes. In one upcoming post, I do this.)

mtchyg

Haha. I wouldn’t expect anything less. You’re the rainbow sprinkles of the tea reviewing world.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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 was 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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95
drank Moroccan Mint by Simpson & Vail
2089 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!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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/

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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/

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

76
drank Chocolate Mint by Simpson & Vail
65 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.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

76
drank Chocolate Mint by Simpson & Vail
65 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.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

88
drank Nepal Ilam by Simpson & Vail
127 tasting notes

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 the Darjeeling area, 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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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. Its 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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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?

Login or sign up to leave a comment.