Simpson & VailEdit Company
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This blend is a mixture of green and black teas from China, India, and Taiwan. It is one of Simpson & Vail’s 15 original blends, going back to the early part of the twentieth century. Actually, these original blends predate Simpson & Vail in its current form by perhaps a decade or more. Simpson & Vail was originally a coffee seller operating under the name Augustus M. Walbridge, Inc. in New York. At some point in its early years, the business also started selling tea, and in 1929, the original owner, Augustus M. Walbridge, sold to his accountant and tea taster, and the current business was born. By this time, these original blends were already in existence.
I prepared this particular tea blend using the one step Western infusion I favor for so many black teas and tea blends. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose leaf material in 8 ounces of 190 F water for 3 minutes. As usual, I did not attempt additional infusions.
Prior to infusion, I noticed that the dry leaves produced a slightly smoky aroma. After infusion, I noticed a fairly strong aroma that was both vegetal and smoky with a hint of spice. In the mouth, I detected notes of pine, smoke, roasted vegetables, roasted barley, and spice. I also got a hint of salt, which provided a brothy note that was especially evident on the finish.
As odd as it sounds, this blend kind of worked for me. It was not particularly complex, but it was both filling and pleasant. I imagine that many contemporary tea blenders would not produce a similar product. This type of blend is very much a product of its era. I found myself thinking of it as “old lady tea” because it just seems like the kind of tea that older women or older people in general would have been drinking in the middle years of the twentieth century. Now that there is so much more variety on the market, blends like this seem to have fallen by the wayside, but I still found some simple pleasures here. I would recommend this blend to those looking for something approachable and filling and/or those looking to get an idea of what vendors were producing in the early years of the previous century.
Flavors: Pine, Roasted Barley, Salt, Smoke, Spicy, Vegetable Broth
Plenty of goodies in this blend, so I went with two teaspoons! What a lovely autumn blend during this miserable weather: apple, cinnamon, orange blossoms, and a unique toasty flavor I haven’t tasted with any other tea…. that must be the coffeecake flavor. The ingredients in the blend play nice, but how could they not? Apples and cinnamon are the classic combination. The black tea used here enhances the fruitiness of the apple, yet adds dark layers to the cinnamon and coffeecake flavor. The orange blossoms don’t add much to the flavor, as far as I can tell. The toasty flavor is actually stronger than the cinnamon. Without the toastiness, it might be an ordinary tea, but the toasty flavor brings something unique to this blend! It’s definitely an autumn blend, but I could drink this all year. This was a sample in the dessert box sampler, but I would definitely stock up on this. I stole an apple cube from the infuser and it was delicious. :D
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 minute steep
I’m on a mission to try all of Simpson & Vail’s original blends before the end of 2017. There are only 15, so I think I can do it. I’ve already had their Russian Caravan Tea and their Aromatic Earl Grey. After I finish the last of this particular blend, I hope to start on either their China Restaurant or Irish Blend.
I prepared this tea using the merchant’s suggested brewing method. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose leaf material in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. I did not attempt additional infusions. I have also tried slightly longer infusions around 4-5 minutes. I found the 3 minute infusion to be less astringent so I will focus my commentary on that specific preparation.
Prior to infusion, I noticed that the dry leaves did not emit much of an aroma. After infusion, the golden amber liquor produced surprisingly mild aromas of bergamot, toast, honey, cream, almonds, and orange. In the mouth, I detected mild, integrated notes of honey, cream, malt, toast, nutmeg, roasted almonds, bergamot, and orange. The finish was mostly smooth, creamy, and toasty, though it did also offer an interesting ghostly impression of bergamot and orange peel on the back of the throat.
I know this is an old, established blend from a reputable vendor, but I, personally, did not care all that much for this stuff. I know a lot of people like it, and that is perfectly fine, but it just didn’t appeal to me. I’ve noticed that Simpson & Vail’s blends tend to be all about subtlety, but I found this to be too subtle and smooth. It was sort of bland. If the orange and bergamot had a greater presence in this blend and the base of Indian teas were slightly more flavorful, I think I may have liked this one more. As is, however, I would pass on it.
Flavors: Almond, Bergamot, Cream, Malt, Nutmeg, Orange, Toast
Lately, it seems that I have been opening up to Ceylonese teas a little more. This has been my go to morning and afternoon tea for the last couple of days. I should finish the last of it either this evening or tomorrow morning. At this point, I can say that this is one of the more enjoyable Ceylonese teas that I have tried.
I prepared this tea using the one step Western infusion I tend to prefer for many non-Chinese black teas. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. I have also tried longer infusions around 4-5 minutes. All have been pretty consistent.
After infusion, the clear amber liquor produced an aroma reminiscent of a combination of toast, malt, roasted almonds, honey, caramel, and toffee. In the mouth, I detected notes of toast, malt, roasted almonds, honey, caramel, and toffee underscored by cream and orange. The finish was very smooth, imparting lingering sensations of citrus, almonds, toast, and caramel.
This was a very approachable Ceylonese tea. The integration of aromas and flavors was nice. I could definitely see myself returning to this one in the near future and would have no problem recommending it to fans of Ceylonese teas.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cream, Honey, Malt, Orange, Toast, Toffee
Here’s one for the fans of dessert teas and green rooibos! I’m trying to envision the three elements here as I’m smelling the dry leaves and tasting the tea. Caramel. walnut. shortbread. (Sounds like a delicious combo as is!) It’s definitely caramely in both scent and flavor. Spot on caramel all around. There are hints to the fragrance and the flavor of something else… possibly walnut and shortbread. It is slightly nutty and buttery, but the sweet caramel takes over. But the caramel makes it a dessert tea on its own! It works pretty well considering it is only green rooibos, flowers and flavoring. The second steep the next night was just as flavorful. It doesn’t hurt I was sipping it while eating Keebler’s “shortbread” elf cookies. :D Another lovely dessert tea from S&V!
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
This tea smelled delicious; however the flavor was a bit odd. The initial flavor was of heavy rose, then mellowed into a softer floral, then left you with a bold, dark cherry finish. Because of the heavy rose/floral notes, it needed something to make it more refreshing. I ended up adding a splash or two of apple cider to give it that little bit of brightness I thought it needed. I did cold brew this and feel it would be warming and bold if served hot.
Flavors: Cherry, Floral, Rose
This tea has an initial buttery flavor then transitions into a heavy dried peach flavor. This combination was not refreshing and made it hard to stomach; after a few sips, I dumped it out. The flavor was quite raw and I felt could use some spices to mellow it out. I did cold brew it, but feel it would be evenmore intense as a hot tea.
I was disappointed as I do like other Simpson & Vail flavored teas.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Peach
Prior to going to work, I managed to squeeze in a sipdown this morning. I had been wanting to finish the last of this for the better part of the last two days and finally got around to doing it. Normally, I like Simpson & Vail’s Earl Greys, but this one did not move me all that much. Still, it wasn’t bad.
I prepared this one 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 also tried longer infusions of 4 and 5 minutes at various points. They were not all that different from the 3 minute infusion, but I will still comment on them briefly.
Prior to infusion, I noticed that I did not get much of an aroma from this Earl Grey. I was just barely able to pick up on a subtle creaminess and that was about it. After infusion, I noted a mild creamy, citrusy aroma from the amber liquor. In the mouth, the cream dominates without coming off as overly artificial or out of place. Beneath the cream, I was still able to pick up soft, mild notes of toast, bergamot, and caramel. The finish emphasized a smooth creaminess without much of an intrusion from any other flavor component. Like most of the other Earl Greys from Simpson & Vail that I have tried, this was very mild and mellow. I also noted that the cream imparted a very smooth, milky texture in the mouth that was pleasant. The longer infusions were similarly smooth and creamy with a slightly pronounced toastiness.
If you have tried any of the other Earl Greys offered by Simpson & Vail, then I doubt this one will surprise you. It is a very smooth, straight-forward blend that should appeal to fans of basic, traditional takes on Earl Grey since the cream is not overpowering. I basically found this to be an inoffensive, drinkable Earl Grey. I also found it to be a tad bland. I like the other Earl Greys from Simpson & Vail that I have tried, but this one I would not go out of the way to purchase again. It isn’t bad in any way, it just isn’t really my thing.
Flavors: Bergamot, Caramel, Cream, Toast
My latest foray into Simpson & Vail’s portfolio of Ceylonese teas, this organic black tea comes to us from Uva region. The estate that produces this particular tea is part of the Idulgashinna Organic Tea Gardens and may be one of the most progressive tea estates in the region. Seriously, check out some of the things they do for their employees. I have a feeling that many other estates do not offer the same services or level of support to their workers.
I prepared this tea using my familiar one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. Obviously, I did not attempt additional infusions, though I think one may be able to get at least one more infusion out of this tea. I have also tried slightly longer infusion times of 4 and 5 minutes with this tea. The results were similar to the 3 minute infusion, so I am wholly concerning myself with that one in this review.
The infused liquor showed a dark orange in the cup. I detected distinct aromas of orange, caramel, toast, malt, cream, and almonds on the nose. In the mouth, I noted balanced notes of cream, toast, malt, almond, dried flowers, and orange underscored by a faint trace of caramel. The finish was smooth and rich, offering lingering impressions of toast, malt, cream, and almond.
I have finally found another Ceylon tea that I really adore. What I found so appealing here was the smooth integration of flavors in the mouth. There were no metallic or off-putting flavors. There was no bitterness. There was no astringency. I do not feel like I can say much else other than I recommend this tea very highly.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cream, Floral, Malt, Orange, Toast
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Back to the grind of reviews on this Tuesday evening, we come to Simpson & Vail’s Smoky Siberian Blend. This blend is a mixture of black teas from multiple countries highlighted by the smokiness of lapsang souchong. Compared to Simpson & Vail’s Russian Caravan Tea, which, in truth, is actually more of a Russian Earl Grey, this blend is more of a traditional Russian caravan blend.
I prepared this tea using my familiar one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. I also tried slightly longer infusions of 4 and 5 minutes, and of course, I will comment on those briefly. No additional infusions were attempted.
At first glance, the dry leaf blend appears to comprise mostly broken leaves, though I also noted the presence of a not inconsiderable amount of crushed leaves (dust and fannings). Clearly this is the type of tea one may wish to strain prior to serving. I don’t mind sediment though. A quick sniff of the leaves revealed a mild smokiness and woodiness. After infusion, the liquor showed a dark, rich copper in the cup. Mild, integrated aromas of smoke, pine, toast, cream, and malt were present on the nose. In the mouth, I easily detected a somewhat smoother than expected blend of smoke, pine, toast, cream, malt, caramel, and almond flavors underscored by a faint citrus fruitiness. The finish was mild, offering a lingering and effective juxtaposition of smoky/woody and sweet/fruity flavors. The slightly longer infusions produced a maltier, nuttier liquor with a more pronounced citrus character and a somewhat subtler smokiness.
This blend is a little better than I expected it to be. Oddly, the presence of crushed leaf did not really impart much in the way of bitterness or astringency to this blend. Instead, this is an approachable, layered blend in which the lapsang souchong is not overpowering. While I tend to prefer Russian caravan blends that have a more upfront lapsang smokiness, the easy drinking affability displayed by this one is still pretty admirable. I think this would be a solid introduction to Russian caravan teas or a good Russian-style blend for those squeamish about lapsang souchong.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Citrus, Cream, Fruity, Malt, Pine, Smoke, Toast
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 have 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
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):
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
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.
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
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
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!