Simpson & Vail

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Recent Tasting Notes

82

Okay, last new tea for the night. “New” meaning I’ve had it for nine months and never tried it, LOL! I don’t know what I’m thinking when I buy all of these chocolate teas… Although to be fair, this one has a fairly misleading name.

This is a much better chocolate tea (IMO) than the last though. It’s a darker chocolate with a bit of bitterness that helps sell it. It actually does remind me a little of the way the cake tastes in a Hostess cupcake, so I guess it’s spot-on. It is a touch artificial, but so are snack cakes, so it makes sense to me. The strawberry is there as well, as more of a supporting flavor. It does taste like a strawberry flavor you would expect to find in a snack cake, not like a fresh strawberry. There’s a touch of creaminess as well.

I’m highly impressed, to be honest. Chocolate teas aren’t generally my thing but this really does taste like a chocolate and strawberry cupcake. I bet it would be wonderful as a latte too. Nice job, Simpson & Vail!

Flavors: Artificial, Bitter, Cake, Candy, Chocolate, Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Jam, Strawberry, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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My last one to try from the National Parks collection! This is a blackberry black tea with a bit of lapsang in the mix for smokiness.

If I’m being honest, I knew immediately from the smell that I wasn’t going to enjoy this tea. The blackberry flavoring definitely has that chalky quality to it that always reminds me of berry-flavored Tums. I don’t know if other people ever have that impression or if it’s just a weird association I have, but it’s fairly common for me with berry flavoring.

Anyway! The blackberry is the strongest flavor here, and it does taste rather candy/artificial to me with some chalkiness. Almost like Smarties maybe, but less sweet? The smoke is extremely subtle, too subtle in my opinion. I’m not sure I would notice it if I didn’t know it was there. There’s just a hint of campfire smoke and dark wood behind the blackberry. A tiny bit of tartness pops up in the aftertaste, perhaps from the freeze-dried berries.

While I like the concept of this one a lot, it falls short for me because of the very candy-like blackberry and the almost imperceptible lapsang smokiness. Certainly not a favorite from this collection.

I think I’ll hold off on a rating because I feel like I have an abnormal reaction to a lot of berry flavors…

Flavors: Artificial, Berry, Blackberry, Candy, Chalk, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet, Tart, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
tea-sipper

Aw, it IS a great concept

Cameron B.

I know, I was excited for it! Ah well… Maybe someone else would love it.

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72

I’ve had this a bunch of times now and always struggle to describe it. The flavor is pretty herbal/savory, but pleasant. It’s fresh tasting, but I don’t find myself reaching for it very frequently. It’s difficult to identify individual flavors, but everything fits together well.

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72
drank Yellowstone by Simpson & Vail
2497 tasting notes

Sipdown! (6 | 404)

I think this one grew on me a little as a sipped it down. I really enjoy the prickly pear flavor, and it’s an interesting combination with the hint of bergamot. I would consider reordering one of these prickly pear teas just for the uniqueness of it, but I wish I had some Grand Canyon still lying around to compare them…

Also, I noticed today that they have two new National Park teas! The Glacier one sounds interesting…

Flavors: Bergamot, Earth, Hay, Prickly Pear, Rhubarb, Smooth, Tart, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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72
drank Yellowstone by Simpson & Vail
2497 tasting notes

I thought I would try another of my remaining National Parks teas today! I had a couple that I was holding off on because I felt like I should post them on Instagram, but now that I’m not doing that anymore I’m free to try them whenever I like! It’s funny how we impose such restrictions on ourselves for no real reason…

Anyway, this is another prickly pear black tea – similar to Grand Canyon (I think it was). The package mentions strawberry pieces but only prickly pear flavoring, so I’m expecting to mostly get prickly pear, bergamot, and perhaps something from the oatstraw.

Welp. It actually is quite similar to Grand Canyon, because I barely taste bergamot at all. The prickly pear is present, and is giving me the usual tart rhubarb sort of vibes. I do feel like there are some strawberry notes, but not sure if that’s just because of the expectation or just an association with strawberry-rhubarb pie. The base is quite earthy and woody, which actually makes a rather nice foundation for the fruity and tart elements. The bergamot is barely there, and I don’t think I would have even noticed it if I hadn’t read the ingredients…

I think I slightly prefer Grand Canyon to this one, but I’m not sure either of them makes my skirt fly up enough to warrant an order. It’s a bit odd to me that they made such similar teas in the same collection… I think I just have one National Parks tea left to try from the sampler!

Flavors: Bergamot, Earth, Jam, Prickly Pear, Rhubarb, Strawberry, Sweet, Tart, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
gmathis

I don’t think it’s new or trendy, but all of a sudden I’m seeing lots of teas with oats or oatstraw. Didn’t pick it up at the time, but Celestial Seasonings had a wellness tea with cinnamon and oats that made me curious.

Cameron B.

That’s so interesting that’s it seems to be sort of a thing now. I guess maybe it makes sense since oatmilk is very popular? I didn’t really notice the oatstraw in this blend, but there was one of the other National Park teas where I remember it giving an oat-y note that I enjoyed.

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68
drank Shenandoah by Simpson & Vail
2497 tasting notes

Sipdown! (7 | 405)

The very last one from my National Parks sampler!

This one wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, but wasn’t my least favorite either. It’s a middle-of-the-road sort of tea. The lemon flavor is nice, somewhere between lemon peel and candy. The sweetness of it is nice when paired with the ginger. The elderberry adds a nice depth.

It’s decent but not quite good. And the amount of butterfly pea flower creates an odd extra virgin olive oil sort of color. This last cup must have had a bit more, as it’s a more pleasant green. But it’s still not a very appetizing color, ha ha. I feel like butterfly pea flower is sort of an all-or-nothing thing for me, if the tea isn’t actually blue, it ends up kind of swampy looking.

Flavors: Candy, Dry Grass, Elderberry, Ginger, Herbaceous, Jam, Lemon, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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68
drank Shenandoah by Simpson & Vail
2497 tasting notes

I was feeling a green tea this evening, and there weren’t any in my box of oldest teas. This pouch happened to be the first green tea I clapped eyes on when I pulled open a drawer, so here it is! I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by this National Park collection in general, so I’m excited to try this one out.

I will say this is bit less unique than some of the other teas in the collection, as it’s mostly just a ginger lemon green tea. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, because it is. There’s a nice balance between the lemon and the ginger, with just enough spiciness paired with a sweet lemon drop-esque sort of note. The base is quite grassy, but in a dry way, and it gives the tea an almost herbal character. Paired together with the classic lemon and ginger, it’s a very comforting flavor.

I do actually notice the elderberry peeping in at the end of the sip, though I admit I probably wouldn’t have identified it if I hadn’t read the description. I really like the combination of the elderberry and the lemon, and it also gives a nice syrupy depth. I will say there’s no elderberry flavoring mentioned in the ingredients, which makes me wonder what else they’ve left out… :P

Anyway, it’s definitely a cozy sort of tea, and I’m sure it would really hit the spot if I were feeling under the weather, or even just on a rainy day.

Flavors: Berry, Candy, Dry Grass, Elderberry, Ginger, Herbaceous, Lemon, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
gmathis

I’ve never tried elderberry and lemon together, though I will likely be trotting it out with cold and flu season around the corner. (I know I like it with cinnamon.)

Cameron B.

This was my first time trying it too, I think it’s fairly similar to blueberry and lemon, which I also love together.

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70

Cold, the tangerine flavor and the rooibos combine pleasantly. It’s not a very remarkable tea. Hot, it’s plain and boring. Really I wouldn’t know what flavor it’s supposed to be other than mildly flavored rooibos, but it’s decently refreshing. I’ve found that S&V’s fruity red rooibos blends don’t work for me as well as most of their other flavors. I’ve had much tastier, clearer orange rooibos blends.

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Alright! Penultimate tea from Cameron.

Kiki incoming.

“Oh? Ohhhh it tastes like Maypo. Unbelivable. The commercial with a little coybow, the baby that the arm of the father… the spoon, the airplane, the father was feeding the baby who said ‘I want my Maypo.’ You know, I searched for Maypo, you know I went to all the mom and pop shops with all those grungy things on their shelves, but I finally found it at the Safeway by Jim’s over there but it was called something else before. You know I opened the box and I though it smelled like heaven. I bought all the boxes they had and then I burned out on it. I figured I was getting too fat on it. This tea is really unbelievable.

‘I Want My Maypo.’ Let me try another sip. Oh, I dropped some on the cat. Oh, I keep burping up the flavor. I give it an 8."

I guess Maypo is a breakfast cereal from Kiki’s generation. She loves this tea and wants me to buy more.

Jacques sitting at the table with us thinks it smells like Aunt Jemima. He’d give it a 1 because the smell is the epitome of processed foods.

Cameron B.

I’ve never heard of Maypo, but now I want to try it ha ha.

gmathis

Maypo is oatmeal, I believe.

tea-sipper

Yeah! Kiki: another fan of the great Apple Cinnamon French Toast. :D

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Some of you may know that my tea preference skews heavily to unflavored, loose leaf teas. I only buy flavored teas as teabags for the convenience. But I am always open to trying anything that lands in my hands through the generosity of others <3

That said…

This is a dead ringer for apple cinnamon french toast. It’s really amazing how this company has nailed the aroma and flavor. It’s a little strong with the maple syrup flavoring and cinnamon but definitely not cloying. The apple shines bright as a warm skillet apples kind of flavor. There’s the slightly eggy and bready french toast taste. All of it is there and harmonious.

That said…

The base black tea is weak. Like Simpson & Vail’s Almond Sugar Cookie, the flavoring is really kind of mind-blowing but I want so much more from the base, some underlying complexity, some texture. I like nuance and mouthfeel. A lot. And flavored teas typically use cheap bases that produce thin, one-dimensional brews as the experience delivery vehicle.

Very much recommended for accurately capturing the namesake of the tea! Even for somebody like me who is pretty much turned off by maple syrup flavoring. When Kiki comes back from housesitting in several weeks, I’ll get her impression. Like me, she’s not a fan of maple flavor since it’s so cloying but I hope she is pleasantly surprised. Thank you for the sample, Cameron :)

Flavors: Apple, Biting, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cinnamon, Malt, Maple Syrup, Pastries

gmathis

Good observation—in lot of flavored teas, even the superbly flavored ones, the base isn’t much more than a delivery mechanism.

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55

I’m forever searching for a replacement to Teavana’s tea of this same name, and this is unfortunately not it. It tastes so strongly of something weird and it took forever for me to figure it out – potato skins! It tastes like raw potato skins. Not in a good way. I’m having it cold, and it’s drinkable, but I taste no white chocolate and very little mint. I don’t know how it went so wrong!! Maybe it’s because it uses “white chocolate peppermint flavoring” instead of actual white chocolate and peppermint. The second time I tried this, I added milk, and I could taste more mint, but the potato skin flavor is persistent. It’s not terrible, but I don’t really want to have too many cups of this.

tea-sipper

I bet 52Teas would make an awesome blend like this.

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72
drank Zion by Simpson & Vail
1214 tasting notes

Fruit and red rooibos often don’t work for me, but this one turned out okay. Hot or cold, the berry flavor is pleasant, and the rooibos complements it. The lavender could be more obvious, but the flavors that are present blend well. The resteep tastes like sunscreen, so I skip it. I have 4 oz of this, and I’m liking it less as I work my way through, but it gets points for doing something different! I added extra lavender the last time I had it, and I enjoyed it more that way.

Cameron B.

I don’t even like lavender, but ended up enjoying the combination with the elderberry and sage here. :)

Martin Bednář

Interesting combination of elderberry and sage :)

gmathis

I was interested until you said “sunscreen.” Now my tongue just feels sticky!

AJRimmer

Luckily only the second steep tastes like that! To me, the first steep tastes a little like chalky berry, but also like lavender and decent quality rooibos. I get two steeps out of most of my teas, so I’m not too sad about the rare one that doesn’t work for a second!

gmathis

Agreed…since I prefer teas that clout me forcefully on the head, I rarely expect much from a second steep.

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60

Hmm this black tea is pretty weak, which isn’t surprising for decaf. The flavoring also isn’t going a direction I’d like. I don’t get a lot of vanilla, so I added some sugar free french vanilla syrup, and that may have helped. I wanted something malty and rich that could make a nice latte, and this wasn’t it, unfortunately! With help, it’s okay, but it tastes sort of thin and strange.

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51

Another from AJRimmer! Thanks again! Hibiscus is what you’re gonna get here. Lots of hibiscus. It’s a shame, because I know there are other ingredients here and the blend looks so lovely and colorful. The photo even looks like it has much less hibiscus than my sample did. I just wish the hibiscus was toned down! Otherwise, it’s a very earthy cup, with a hint of another sort of tang, like orange. Some great ingredients here, but I agree with AJRimmer – take that hibiscus out! Then the mango and papaya can pop more. Overall, the fruit flavor is earthier rather than a fresh fruit type, so this isn’t something I’d want to drink even without the hibiscus.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons // 20 minutes after boiling // 2-3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 8 minutes after boiling // 3 min

tea-sipper

Also, two hibiscus teas yesterday. NO. I need a hibiscus break.

LuckyMe

I’m at the point now where if I’m shopping for a tea and a blend has hibiscus in it, I move on. It always seems to overpower and turn everything sour.

tea-sipper

Agree, LuckyMe.

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60
drank Burgundy Blast by Simpson & Vail
3525 tasting notes

Thanks very much, AJRimmer!  If you’re aiming to steep up a cup of heavy hibiscus, this one is a good option.  The name is accurate!  Though I’d say it’s more a cup of magenta when I’m trying to tame all that hibiscus.  It’s not bad though. Not too tart, with a fruit punch undertone to it, so the sweetness adds a level to the brisk tartness.  I would definitely not steep it for five minutes on the first steep, as S&V suggests, because I’m not a huge fan of hibiscus overload.  But it’s drinkable with short steeps.  I don’t think there is enough of these additional flavors to make it worthwhile (mango, papaya, acai, pomegranate) but any flavors would be struggling through all this hibiscus.  But like I said, you can tell they are TRYING to be there.  Not the worst cup of hibiscus I’ve ever had!
Steep #1 // 1 1/3 teaspoons for a full mug // 15 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min

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77

The scent of this tea is so delicious! The flavor is pretty simple and mild. It’s strawberry with a green rooibos base and a few herbaceous hints in the background. The strawberry might lean a little fake, but it works. It makes a pretty refreshing cold cup of tea. I have Beatrix Potter’s entire collection on my bookshelf, and I have to say this is a well thought out tea – it just feels like the perfect vibe for her books.

Cameron B.

I still need to order the literary sampler!

gmathis

Oh that sounds nice!

AJRimmer

Yeah, I just ordered the full sizes of the two herbal teas from the literary collection and figured I’d try all the caffeinated ones someday!

ashmanra

I have considered buying this one and I really should. We read one Potter book a night from December 1 to December 23, and after Christmas one year read the Fairy Caravan for about a week in the evenings!

AJRimmer

That’s so fun! I still remember the funny voices my dad would use when he read these books to me when I was a kid, so it’s always really nostalgic to reread them.

ashmanra

What a nice memory! Reading aloud is one of my favorite things.

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77

The first time I had this, I found it to be really lacking in flavor since it’s just spices with no tea or rooibos to give it body. Ever since then, I’ve been overleafing, oversteeping, and adding almond milk. These steps make it taste pretty good really. It’s not very spicy or overly bold, but I enjoy the spice combination. It’s become a pretty reliable choice when I want something warm.

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93

Love the tin, so I picked this one up from positive reviews, description, and yes the tin (I have a small Edgar Allan Poe and Raven thing)

Happy to say I actually really enjoyed the tea. Pleasant all-around black tea with a silky feel. Not bitter, strongly flavorful. Dropped in a cube of sugar. Would go well as a breakfast tea or if you do want a splash of milk. I oversteeped it the first time and it wasn’t bitter despite this. It is not strongly smokey, so if you do not like smokey teas, this description note shouldn’t be a big deal. I like smokey tea myself, and Earl Greys, so blending that with a subtle black tea and oddly beet note was a treat.

Second steep even better. I steeped from the same leaves at 5 minutes exactly. Oddly as this tea cools even more flavors come out of it, well rounded tea. Hopefully I still enjoy it as much when I drink more of it.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML
tea-sipper

Glad there is another fan of this blend out there! It’s one of the rare teas I have a tin for.

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95

They got the flavoring just perfect for this one! I had it cold, and it tastes quite like root beer with that sparkly hint in there too somehow. The rooibos is the ideal base for it, really adding to the root beer flavor profile. I do a cold resteep each time, which turns out basically just as tasty. This is going to end up being yet another one to reorder in my annual S&V order.

tea-sipper

I was just thinking of a root beer tea…

gmathis

This does sound like a good pairing! Last week, I was guzzling my root-beery sassafras concentrate like it was the Fountain of Youth, but I have enough left to dump some in a cuppa rooibos…

Tiffany :)

Ooh, I love the soda root beer, if I ever make a S&V order I’ll have to get this one (I also want to try their National Parks Collection and others).

AJRimmer

Soda inspired teas are the best teas!

ashmanra

Vanilla Jasmine from Golden Moon reminds me of a cream soda/root beer. Have not had it in ages.

Mastress Alita

I’ve been guzzling a chilled melon tea that I infuse with Co2, really reminds me of a soda!

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This caught me off guard with its nutty aroma! I get it now, after thinking on it – the nuttiness I think is supposed to represent the cake flavor here. Unfortunately, I don’t taste anything else. No apple, no cinnamon. I have a pretty large bag of this one, so plenty to play around with.

Flavors: Nutty

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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72
drank Yellowstone by Simpson & Vail
38 tasting notes

With plans to go to two Nation Parks next year, this tea was on my list to try first out of the collection box as reservations for Yellowstone are made. I’ve traveled there twice before and it’s a magical place. I’m not sure this tea lives up to the name but The tea leaves were pretty with red and blue coloring from strawberries and cornflower. I found it to be a rather fruity tasting tea strong on the strawberry. The tea has a good lingering scent and for those who like fruit teas, I do recommend.

Flavors: Strawberry

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
Cameron B.

I still need to try this one from my sampler!

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50

Sipdown! (44 | 321)

Not a fan of this one…

It’s quite chalky, and the main flavor seems to be a custardy vanilla. So it ends up sort of tasting like a vanilla pudding-flavored Tums to me… I’m not sure I taste orange or cinnamon at all. The chalky quality is almost slightly floral, like those powdery violet candies.

Nope, nope nope…

Flavors: Chalk, Creamy, Custard, Floral, Sweet, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
AJRimmer

Aw, it sounded so good in theory!

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75

I got Tea Mail from Shae! Yay!
This tea smells awesome, as if I’ve just been in the kitchen cooking apples and cinnamon, with a good whiff of maple syrup too. As for the taste, I’m wondering if I used enough leaf because I find myself wanting more, more cinnamon or more apple or more both. The maple syrup is quite tasty but its suffering from my mental comparison to Cuppa Geek’s Morning Waffles. I’ll try again with more leaf and less water and I’ll add a sample to my next S&V order to experiment with. Thanks Shae for sharing this yummy tea.

Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Maple Syrup

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Kiki:

“It’s really good, I think I really like it, let’s get back to the show! Fruity, floral, very satisfying, thirst-quenching, berrylike, thank you very much whoever sent it. hahahaha! OK? hahahaha! It’s an 8!”

we’re watching the newest episode of Big Sky

derk:

This is like Simpson & Vail’s Carrot Cake Cupcake blend but with jammy blueberry. It has the same powdered sugar-cream cheese frosting vibe to me, like churros with vanilla frosting. Very sweet, mellow cinnamon. I think I taste a kind of crumble note, that oaty-pastry flavor. It’s pretty good and as Kiki says, thirst-quenching. I think the berry-currant tartness and green rooibos base play that role.

Flavors: Black Currant, Blueberry, Cinnamon, Frosting, Jam, Oats, Pastries, Powdered Sugar, Sweet, Tart, Vanilla

tea-sipper

The verbatim Kiki quotes never get old. :D

Cameron B.

What, no burps this time? XD

Mastress Alita

My tea-drinking has become noticably more burpy since I started carbonating my cold brews, hahaha!

Dustin

Oooooooo, are you using a sodastream to carbonate, Mastress Alita? I’ve noticed such a change in flavors when carbonation is added to tea!

Mastress Alita

A Drinkmate, but basically same thing, different brand!

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