Simpson & Vail

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Recent Tasting Notes

drank Assam Beesakopie by Simpson & Vail
231 tasting notes

I’m really not good with CTC style teas. I’m so used to full leaf teas that whenever I use the CTC I always put too much in. Inevitably, the little tea balls all compact and form an impenetrable shell, all the while, coloring my tea VERY strong.

That being said, even strong, this wasn’t a total disaster. It had some bright citrus notes going on underneath it all with some malty notes present as well.

I’ll have to try another round with much less tea. This one is on me. Therefore I’m holding off on the rating as of now.

Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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83

SVtea.com just happens to have 15% off their dessert teas until 10/16 and you really can’t go wrong on any of them. I love most of these dessert blends. I realized I hadn’t written anything on this one yet. There is plenty of chocolate and sweetness in the flavor here, on this black tea base. The black tea is mild enough to let the flavors shine. The little red flowers in the blend really make the blend pop. There is a great amount of flavor here for only including the occasional cocoa nib and flavoring (and especially because this blend is not exactly new and fresh from S&V at this point… I’ve had it a while). How S&V can keep their teas so fresh is a GOOD mystery. Definitely chocolate flavor here! Plenty of flavor for two steeps. I like it.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // few minutes after boiling // 4 minute steep

Maddy Barone

Sounds delicious!

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87
drank Plum Black by Simpson & Vail
2354 tasting notes

I was deliberating buying this one because of the mixed reviews. But I love plum so had to give it a try. It turns out I LOVE it. Who said this didn’t have any flavor? I think it’s delicious! Maybe not 100% accurate of a juicy sweet ripe plum, but there is plenty unique flavor here to love: definitely fruity with undertones of a lovely floral. The black tea is great with the flavor. Two delicious steeps with lots of flavor! I’ve tried better plum teas but this is great stuff. I never lose with S&V teas.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep

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98
drank Cocoa Shells by Simpson & Vail
2354 tasting notes

I think S&V ordered these and put them in stock at my suggestion? Or possibly they were thinking of doing that anyway. But WHOA these are dreamy cocoa shells. In price, fragrance, and flavor these are amazing. I always say that cocoa shells are the perfect chocolate ingredient for tea blends: NOT chocolate chips, NOT cocoa nibs, NOT chocolate flavoring. Just the scent when you open the pouch is like melted baking chocolate. It has that lovely bittersweet tangy flavor with that sweetness that can only be chocolate. Not only does brewing these up supply you with minerals and antioxidants but the low caffeine means I can drink this any time of day and it’s perfect for nighttime sipping. This is a healthy cup and satisfies the sweet tooth! I will definitely be keeping cocoa shells - in particular S&V’s cocoa shells - in stock!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// just boiled // 9 minute steep

Flavors: Chocolate

ashmanra

This sounds delightful!

Fjellrev

Cool that they carry them now! I wonder if they’ll venture into some flavoured/blended varieties.

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84

The Brontes are some of my heroes. Yes, all three sisters, even Anne (not really Branwell, sorry guy.) To be so brilliant yet so isolated! I’ll dread the day I’ve read all of their books, but then I will just start right over again. I wanted some reading fuel yesterday so went with this choice. Fierce Brontes (and caffeine), give me some reading power! I think it worked. I was reading outside on a great summer day the amazing Bone People by Keri Hulme which is a book that I think the Brontes would love, with the themes of solitude and isolation. ANYWAY, the tea is lovely. A crisp black tea with oodles of fruit flavor. ACTUAL papaya and raspberry bits, not just flavorings. But there apparently are pear and gooseberry flavors here that I don’t think I noticed. Of course I’ve never had gooseberry so who knows? Maybe the fruit flavors just melded together because it is certainly fruity! Plenty of pretty flowers. The black tea pairs perfectly with the fruit. It’s a fruity summer concoction and certainly delicious.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 15 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep

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92
drank Root Beer by Simpson & Vail
2354 tasting notes

If you’re looking for a great root beer tea blend, this is the only one you’ll ever need. Unless you’d also like a no caffeine option, then S&V has a delicious rooibos root beer blend too! This is so strongly of delicious root beer! With only black tea, sarsaparilla root, and rootbeer flavor, I’m not sure how this blend has such strong flavor. I could swear it even has a hint of creaminess of a root beer float. This might satisfy root beer cravings if you don’t want all that sugar or don’t have any root beer around. But I added some rock sugar to the second steep anyway and it resulted in an even more delicious brew. S&V are just flavor champions every. single. time.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep

Fjellrev

The scent of this tea is INSANE. So powerful, root beer to the extreme!

tea-sipper

Yep, I know… I have no idea how S&V does it!

Dr Jim

This is a strong, old-style root beer. It was too much for my grand-kids, even with sweetener.

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84

I had to buy the lovely literary sampler gift box from S&V. Sadly, the box doesn’t come with adorable mini versions of the awesome big tins…. but handy pouches of the teas will do. I’m glad to sample them anyway! (And each sample pouch comes with a few teaspoons or more.) Today seemed like a very Shakespeare day… not sure why. The blend features a Rose Congou black tea with rose petals, rosemary, lavender and bergamot. I hate to say it though, but this blend seems a lot like S&V’s Victorian Earl Grey blend because I am probably too overly familiar with their wonderful offerings. To be fair, I haven’t actually tried their Victorian Earl Grey blend, so don’t take my word for it. But this blend is great. A light black tea with plenty of floral flavor, with a hint of fresh, bright bergamot. A great combination.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 minute steep

Orphia

I’ve tried both. There’s very little difference between the two, if any at all. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a lovely tea, but it’s still pretty much Victorian Earl Grey repackaged.

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85

Simpson & Vail sent a sample over with my order. Of course I’ll try it! I’m not exactly sure what dragonfruit should taste like but this is tasty. Plenty of some sort of fruit flavor (and S&V’s flavors are usually accurate.) But there are other fruits here: apple, mango, strawberry, orange, lemon. I actually see chunks of fruit (mango?) and orange blossoms. They are pretty tasty together. Just fruit fruit fruit. Hibiscus is mentioned but I definitely don’t think there is too much here, or really any that is noticeable in my serving. That is a good thing! A green rooibos is always refreshing to see, there aren’t many of them. Both steeps are very flavorful and delicious!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 minute steep

Fjellrev

Oh sweet, orange blossom too. Always nice!

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56

Sororitea Sisters TTB

This is one of the teas I tried from the TTB and though I intended to write a Sororitea Sisters review about it as I have for most of the teas I tried from the box, I just didn’t have that much to say about this. It is fruity and the base is pretty prominent. I get a lot from the raspberry leaf but wish I got more fruity/orchard flavors. Less base, more papaya us what I thought while I sipped.

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100

This was a surprising tea. I was expecting something like an extra-floral Earl Grey but this is something different. It has a range of floral notes, not unexpected from the ingredients list, but is extremely well-blended! There is a perfect range of floral notes, it’s not just a flowery punch in the face. The black tea is a perfect backdrop. I expected a thrown-together tea that was a cute gimmick for book stores, but now I’m regretting the fact that I only purchased this flavor!

Flavors: Flowers

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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70

I decided to stick with Simpson & Vail teas this week and went with this blend for breakfast today.

The dried leaves were very dark, almost to the point of being black. Some stems, but mostly broken and a few whole leaves. Almost no fannings. Some golden tips.

I steeped 13 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of boiling water for 4 minutes. I went with the larger amount of leaves because of my experience with a similar tea from S&V earlier this week (East Frisian Blend).

The tea brews into a dark brown liquor. The flavor has a bit of malt and a bit of hay together. Slightly astringent, but that could also be related to the amount of dried leaves I used when brewing (a bit more than usual).

Overall, it was good, but not one of my favorites. I expected more flavors, I think. I prefer some of the other S&V blends over this one.

Flavors: Astringent, Hay, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 13 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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80

I really, really want to like this tea enough to call it a favorite. I’m not there yet, though.

On paper, this has everything I generally look for in a black tea: Strong, with a malty flavor. But, it hasn’t yet broken into my list of favorites.

It doesn’t help that it took me a few tries before I found the right amount to brew for my strength preferences: 13 grams for 20 ounces of boiling water for 4 minutes. And, one steeping only—repeated steepings of the leaves does not work with this one.
The length of steeping time is different than what was recommended by the vendor but, when I tried the vendor’s recommendations, my tea seemed weak.

The dried leaves themselves are very pretty: dark to the point of almost being black, with some golden tips mixed in. There is a hint of berry to the aroma of the dried leaves.

When brewed, the liquor has a copper color, much like the vendor’s description states. The liquor has a malty flavor which is slightly astringent, but not nearly as malty as I expected. Since this is a blend, I know it won’t be as malty as a straight Assam tea—maybe a blend of Ceylon and/or Kenyan teas…? Just a guess. The hint of berries in the aroma of the dried leaves also translates into the flavor.

Overall, I like it, but it isn’t the strong breakfast tea I expected. It is one to enjoy throughout the day, and might even be very good with ice. I’ll have to try that as the hot summer weather moves in.

Flavors: Astringent, Berries, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 13 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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95

I drank this one last night before bed. Didn’t feel like getting up to type in my notes on the desktop computer (an example of a time I really wish Steepster had a mobile version/app), so I had to wait until today. Anyway…

I had a rooibos tisane years ago that I loved and have been searching for one similar to that ever since. I have never been able to find it…until now. I loved this one!

The dried leaves were cut to the point of being fannings—just what I’d expect from a quality rooibos where you want as much leaf interaction with the water as possible when brewing.

The liquor brewed into a nice amber color. It had the familiar scent of a rooibos tisane—hard to describe, but recognizable. Besides the familiar rooibos flavor, there was an undertone of buckwheat. The flavor also had notes of plums and raisins. Overall, an excellent rooibos tisane that I will certainly add to my regular collection. It’s an excellent quality tisane which captures the essence of rooibos perfectly.

I brewed 6 grams of dried leaves in 12 ounces of boiling water for 5 minutes.

Flavors: Plums, Raisins

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 6 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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77

This is an excellent tea with a light fruity taste and that brisk taste that I think is common to Ceylon teas. I think there is just a little bit of malt to this tea. This was a very good value as it was not expensive.

I steeped this tea one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.

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

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78

Bought this because I thought it would be interesting to try a tea from Georgia, the former Soviet Province, not the US State. This tea is relatively good. It is slightly bitter and it has a strong malt flavor to it. There is more depth to this tea though and I would say it has a bit of a fruity character largely in the background. Overall I like this tea.

I steeped this tea on time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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94

I bought this a few months ago… looking for some root beer teas and S&V delivers! For such a small amount of ingredients here (mostly rooibos and some sarsaparilla) this PACKS flavor. Whoa. And this is some definite root beer here… I can almost taste a creamy flavor, maybe I’m imagining it, like it’s a root beer float with the tiniest amount of ice cream. The rooibos has the deepest red color, which I don’t usually see with rooibos. If you don’t like the idea of hot root beer (I don’t mind it at all), you could always brew it hot and throw it in the fridge for a while. Or there is so much flavor, I’m sure an iced tea would be great. The second steep the next night was brewed for a WHILE and there was even more flavor which was surprising and addicting. I almost didn’t brew the second steep but I’m glad I did. S&V aces the flavors almost every single time. Love this. Half the mug disappears while writing this review.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 7+ minute steep

Flavors: Root Beer

Fjellrev

Their root beer flavouring is bang on!

tea-sipper

Most of S&V’s flavors usually are so accurate!

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83

“This tea is giving me an identity crisis. Or, rather, the Brontë sisters are. Did you realize that the oldest-lived Brontë was 38 upon passing? They did ALL THAT WRITING before 38.

Do you realize I am 32 and have only succeeded at NaNoWriMo once? What. am. I. doing. with. my. life?!"

Oh, and I also talk about the tea itself here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/12/22/bronte-sisters-black-tea-from-simpson-and-vail/

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80

I’ve been looking for an Earl Grey decaf and S&V has plenty of decaf options! The base here is light but not off tasting like some decaf options sometimes are. Decaf is tough to get right, but this one gets it right. I’m really picky with bergamot so this might not be my ideal bergamot, but it also isn’t a bad tasting bergamot — it’s crisp and bright and great for the light base. My perfect bergamot with this decaf base would be amazing, but I won’t say no to this tea.

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65

Here’s Hoping TTB

This is pretty good, although it doesn’t hold a candle to my favorite Market Spice gingerbread tea. Ginger and clove are the main notes with a hint of molasses.

Flavors: Clove, Ginger, Molasses

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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75
drank Pear Black by Simpson & Vail
510 tasting notes

Here’s Hoping TTB

Pear is a flavor that seems hard to capture in a tea and I was intrigued by the fact that this one had a black tea base instead of the more typical white or green. It definitely smells like pears and has a strong, sweet fruity flavor. But to me, it tasted more like apple than pear. Quite good, but not exactly what I was hoping for.

Flavors: Apple, Pear, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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74
drank Vietnam Black by Simpson & Vail
1727 tasting notes

This is a very nice tea with some malty and fruity notes.

I brewed this noe time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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79
drank Rwanda OPA Rukeri by Simpson & Vail
1727 tasting notes

Bought a one ounce sample with my order last week. This is surprisingly good considering Rwanda is in my understanding very new to tea making. It has a weak note of malt and a fairly strong fruity note although I am not really sure what fruit. It is very good. It doesn’t qualify as spectacular but is quite tasty.

I steeped this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.

Flavors: Fruity, Malt

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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75

Here’s Hoping TTB

This is nice! I’m not really getting the chocolate, but it has an enjoyable creamy strawberry flavor. Not a standout, but I would certainly drink it again.

Flavors: Creamy, Strawberry, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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81
drank Colombian Black by Simpson & Vail
1727 tasting notes

This is a fairly nice black tea. It is a bit malty and a bit sweet. It is strong enough that someone who likes to add milk to their tea probably could add it and still taste the tea. It is interesting to taste tea from someplace like Columbia. It does not seem to have the depth and character of a Chinese black but I do like it. I may try cold brewing it and see how it does as an iced tea. Overall this is a good tea.

I brewed this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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