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Recent Tasting Notes
So, a migraine I had a few days ago returned on me today, and I ended up using my last triptan (I have no idea if the pharmacy will let me refill so soon either, crossing my fingers they will tomorrow, but for today they are closed, sooooo… nothing I can do but hope this one works and sleep it out). It takes a while for a triptan to work even if it’s going to, so to try to get myself drowsy for a nap I figured I’d drink this lavender and mint blend that I got from the last Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox (thanks tea-sipper and all who participated!) Lavender is (tasty!) quite relaxing and mint and cinnamon are quite calming on the stomach.
The smell is wonderful! It’s minty, with a rich cinnamon aroma, and a touch of floral lavender. The flavor is incredibly relaxing. It’s subtly minty, so it doesn’t have a strong menthol cooling sensation. A lot of the minty note come out in the lavender flavor, which is pretty strong, and quite nice since I’m a big fan of lavender. There is a really nice sweet cinnamon note that comes in late in the sip and settles into the aftertaste at the back of the tongue. There is also a slight citrusy note to the tea. I never really thought lavender and cinnamon could work so well together, but they do; this is one of the nicest herbals I’ve had in some time. When I’m no longer on a self-imposed tea-ordering hiatus (seriously, my cupboard is waaaaaaay out of control at the moment!) this is definitely a blend I’d happily restock from Simpson and Vail.
That nap was bomb, too; when I woke up my stomach still felt nasty, and all I wanted was another cup of this.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Floral, Lavender, Mint
This is a pretty nice tea. It is quite smoky, but I think a medium smoke as Lapsang Souchong goes. This is not a tea I drink straight. I added sugar and just a splash of creamer. It is the only tea I take with any sort of creamer. I believe it is still the only black tea from Simpson and Vail from Taiwan.
I brewed this in a 36oz Cobalt Betty teapot with 6 tsp leaf and boiling water for 3 minutes.
I’ve been sipping this one a lot but it’s tough for me to describe. I LOVE Earl Grey Cream teas. It might be my favorite, but they have to be perfect and EGCs have been tough to track down as of late. I wouldn’t describe this EGC as perfect, but it certainly has unique qualities that other Earls don’t have. (If you are looking for a vast collection of unique and delicious teas that no other shop seems to carry, you NEED to check out S&V! They are consistently great!) But again, I’m always finding it tough to describe. The bergamot is different from most bergamot. The cream quality is different than most cream teas. The second steep is lacking in the cream quality though. The black tea is of a medium strength that works with these flavors. This one works because it is unique so it’s craveable.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
I’m glad the description for this tea says “delicious in every season” because I’m reviewing it in summer. Here we have a rare green rooibos base with plenty of flavors that when thrown together are delicious. Simpson and Vail says this blend has: cacao and cinnamon and flavored with Bavarian chocolate, cinnamon and hazelnuts. (There are also pretty flowers that make the blend look fantastic.) I love these late night dessert blends….even if I have them with dessert anyway. To be fair, this tea was purchased a few months ago in January, and though S&V does an amazing of keeping their teas fresh, I DID purchase this after the holidays. Of course, this tea would taste even more amazing fresh. As is, this has plenty of flavor, being a true dessert tea. With the cinnamon, it does remind me of S&V’s Snickerdoodle tea which I love. I’m not tasting much chocolate, which adding cocoa shells to the blend would remedy. Maybe just hints of the other flavors. It’s good to have a change with green rooibos once in a while. When I hear Winter Wonderland, for some reason I’m thinking marshmallow. It would have been fun to have marshmallows thrown into this crazy blend. Let’s have ALL the flavors!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Sipdown no. 88 of 2018 (no.444 total).
I tried this on the stovetop a couple of different ways, in iced form, and as a hot black tea steeped western style, some of which I’ve already written notes about. It was actually pretty good cold, too. Cold chocolate tea can be a little strange at first, but it grows on you (or at least it grows on me). Nothing else to add to previous notes.
Trying this again today because I am pretty sure that I didn’t make it concentrated enough last time. I was doing the stovetop steep method from memory and I was short a tablespoon of tea.
This time I used two tablespoons of the chai plus one tablespoon of black tea to one cup of water and one tablespoon of splenda. Boiled for 3 minutes, then added one cup low fat milk. Brought back to boiling, then removed from heat and steeped for 5+ minutes.
That’s the method as stated on the Samovar chai tin, except of course they recommend sugar rather than splenda and whole milk rather than low fat.
It’s better like this. Spicier. For sure more clove, a little more cardomom. Maybe a tiny bit more chocolatey. And it doesn’t affect the anise, which I still can’t discern (and which is cause for relief).
Weekend 2 of project chai sipdown. I made this on the stovetop with Golden Moon French Breakfast as the additional black tea.
It’s tasty — a mild, chocolate chai. I don’t find the chocolate overly strong. In fact, it could be stronger. That might be a function of what parts of the blend ended up in this spoon.
The chai spices are more prominent for me, particularly the cardamom. Fortunately, I’m not tasting the anise.
I wish that this rocked my socks off but it’s not doing that. Still, it’s pleasant and enjoyable as my last tea of the day.
Flavors: Cardamon, Chocolate
This might be the third time I’ve had this in my stash. I don’t know why I’ve never reviewed it. I guess I’ve only had it during times I’ve been inactive here.
Anyway, the fact that I bought it a third time should say a lot. There’s just something about it. It’s lightly spiced, but smooth with sweet vanilla and apple. There is an actual cake note, too. But my mind never translates it as “cake”. No, this tea tastes exactly like Apple Jacks to me. In the best way. I love Apple Jacks, and if I can get that flavor in a zero calorie, caffeinated form, I’m going to!
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Vanilla
A Berry Frui-tea July! This came from the Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox, thanks very much to tea-sipper for organizing and all who contributed teas to this teabox! I had a single-cup sampler of this tea and brewed up a late night cuppa.
The aroma of the steeped tea is surprisingly sweet and does have a nice plum aroma. The tea is fantastic! It’s so smooth… I wish I knew which black teas were used in this base, because it is so nice, without the typical bitterness I get from an overload of assam or ceylon. Whatever the blend is here, it works. It’s a little malty, nicely dark without becoming biting or bitter, and has some nice notes of cinnamon and cocoa. On top of that is this really becoming plum flavor, that is flavorful enough to give the cup a nice fruity note, but not overpowering as the base still has this really nice taste… it’s just the right amount of fruit flavor in a tea. The cup also has a somewhat creamy aftertaste.
This is a tea I would happily add to my cupboard! Such a nice blend of both black base and fruit flavor.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cocoa, Creamy, Fruity, Malt, Plums, Smooth, Vanilla
I’ve tried this one before and didn’t think it was good (it was from a traveling teabox, so probably old.. or too much time on the road). BUT I received some of this in S&V’s holiday sampler and love it, so that just goes to show the power of a fresh blend. This blend is extremely minty, and I love extremely minty blends. The leaves are incredibly festive with red rooibos, green rooibos and red & white flowers. (I’ve already been thinking today that the holidays will soon be here, but mint is also a lovely blend to have in the summer.) This blend also has stevia in it, which might be why I didn’t like it before. Possibly stevia is not so good as it ages? But it seems to be okay in the blend this time around. Now to the flavor: both steeps are amazing. It actually has that perfect proportion of flavor qualities that a candy cane has: extremely minty, very sweet, with that hint of creaminess. So the name for this tea is VERY accurate. All on the ever unobtrusive rooibos base that S&V uses in their blends. (Even rooibos haters could love the rooibos that S&V uses in their blends.) Yet another amazing blend from Simpson & Vail! AND oh my gosh, I just noticed S&V has two new dessert blends!! Baklava! Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble! SVtea.com
Steep #1 // 1 1/4 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
It’s summer, time to write a tasting note for Nutcracker! I’ve tried this tea a few times but it just never results in the cup I want. There are so many ingredients here, but it’s very light in flavor, both with the black tea itself and the flavors and ingredients. What should be here: almond pieces, orange peel, cranberries, cinnamon & chocolate mint flavors. Even though I noticed plenty of orange pieces, and at least two cranberries and other various bits go into the infuser, it’s tough to taste any of these. In a blind taste test, I probably wouldn’t mention ANY of the included ingredients. Maybe all the flavors just combine together to create a new flavor instead of flavors I can’t pick apart. Because honestly, I can’t distinctly taste any of these flavors. Also, the black tea results in a very light brown color with both steeps. So overall, not the holiday magic I expect (and the steeps were the same in the winter as well, so it isn’t just a matter of sipping season.) Ah well, can’t win them all.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoon for a full mug// 12 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
Drinking this again today it’s honestly just SO Good and I really need to add this to my To buy list. I’d love to get a bag of this. I definitely am excited to try some more teas from this company in the future. So hopefully the bar isn’t set too high based on how much I enjoyed this one as my first.
Today was my birthday which was pretty uneventful but I babysat for a friend which was fun. This is a freebie that came with the teas I bought from Tea-Sipper’s Stash Sale. I’d been wanting to try this one and she was kind enough to send me some of it. It’s also my first time trying a tea from Simpson & Vail. This note is going to be brief as I am exhausted from babysitting all day.
I prepared this as the instructions said to and added the tiniest bit of honey and milk.
Taste wise I’m getting some soft floral notes that remind me of earl grey tea. Yet isn’t any bergamot in this or cornflower petals. My initial thoughts are that this is not what I expected it to taste like but if it were actually an earl grey tea. It would be an exceptional earl grey. The black tea base isn’t specified what type they use but it is really tasty and pairs nicely with the floral-ness. I don’t get lilac from this unfortunately but really am enjoying this. I definitely wouldn’t mind buying some more of this for my cupboard but would need to make a note to reach for it when I’m craving some EG.
Flavors: Bergamot, Earl Grey, Floral
Since I said goodbye to a flavored green this week, I thought I should apply the law of conservation and crack open a new one.
As I’ve said, I’m a huge jasmine green fan. I also quite like rose teas, done right. So I found the prospect of this one exciting.
Not surprisingly, the scent in the tin is the generic S&V scent — a sort of perfume/lotion floral without clear borders and not really unique to this tea. The steeped tea produces a light golden yellow liquor that smells mostly of jasmine.
It’s in the flavor that it becomes clear this isn’t a straight jasmine. Rose teas often produce a sort of aromatic presence that seems to come from an essential oil, and I get that here, though just a bit. It really is just a kiss of rose, so points for accurate naming.
The underlying tea is not discernible to me as a separate flavor, but that’s ok. This is an enjoyable switch up on a straight jasmine green.
Flavors: Jasmine, Rose
I thought I’d entered all of my non-sample teas in my Steepster cupboard, but periodically I find one that slipped through the cracks.
This is one of those.
The aroma in the tin reminds me of every other Simpson & Vail tea in my order, only stronger. And now I’m thinking that this is the culprit that shared its smell with all of the other teas. Who knew that packaging was so important? I haven’t ordered from S&V in a while. I certainly hope they’ve improved their packaging and are no longer using paper bags — the kind that they have in the grocery store to place under the coffee grinder.
Anyway, I am not good when it comes to differentiating the smells of various types of purple flowers. When I smell something I know is lilac, I’m like — hey, yeah, lilac. Same when I smell something lavender or violet. But put them all in front of me and ask me which is which? I might be able to do it, I guess. But it seems unlikely because I don’t have a clear entry in my mental database that I can call up as any of these.
The fragrance of the steeped tea is a delicate floral, with a tad of the soap/lotion that plagues some floral blacks. The tea is a pretty standard black tea color, perhaps a little darker and a little redder than some.
The flavor is much like the smell, only intensified. I wouldn’t say this is a subtle flavor, or particularly delicate, but neither is it eyewateringly unpleasant. It’s juicy enough that it doesn’t have that dead flower thing going on that some chamomiles have. Thankfully the soap/lotion is less, and there’s an interesting sweet upturn at the end of the sip which makes it enjoyable.
As I sit here, I can’t recall what other lilacs I may have had and how they stack up. But I’m now wanting to taste purple flower teas back to back just for laughs.
I thought for sure I’d written a note about this one before. Apparently not.
The dry leaves smell strongly of chocolate. The orange is all but missing. After steeping there is more balance. More orange, a bit less chocolate. The chocolate is a baked chocolate smell, by which I mean it’s a cookie rather than a candy chocolate smell: a bit flatter and more diffuse. The tea is clear and dark amber in color.
Have I had a chocolate orange tea before? I don’t remember. This one is nice, though there is something about it that I could do without, best described as a generic floral/lotion quality that carried over from the other S&V teas with which it shipped. If I get past that, it’s something I’d drink again.
Flavors: Chocolate, Orange
I’ve found most of the S&V teas I’ve tried to be very solid, but not terribly distinctive. Solid, very enjoyable, but not stand outs.
This one breaks that mold. This tea does one thing, but it does that one thing extremely well.
Everything is blackberry, blackberry, blackberry — smell in the tin, smell after steeping, taste. It’s a deep, organic infusion of blackberry into the tea base, which is really not all that discernible except as a substrate. If this wasn’t as tasty, that might be a problem for me, but I find the flavor delicious — rich but not heavy, strong, but not too strong, not medicinal or artificial. The reviews on the S&V site disagree with me, finding the flavor artificial. But I’m standing by my tea.
It’s going on the wish list.
Chai to Stay Dry! Today I felt like trying the sampler of this chai that was kindly provided to me from the last Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox, so thank you so much to tea-sipper and all the previous participants of that teabox! This was the one chai from the box I decided to sample, and now, during my “month of chais” seems like the perfect time to do so!
The sweet smell of the leaf is giving me a bit more of a “candied ginger” feel than chocolate; I don’t distinctly pick up on a chocolate aroma, but I do get a sweet or sugary impression, as well as spices, particularly that “musky clove” scent that I attribute to cardomom. Brewed up, it has a deep reddish-brown color and it is easier for my nose to pick out some cocoa notes, but the spices are still predominant.
I wouldn’t say the flavor of the tea is a strong chocolately flavor, but the rich black base comes off much sweeter, with some cocoa notes in the aftertaste, and there is no bitterness or astringency, making this the sort of chai that would be easy to drink plain. The spice blend is a pretty good balance, though the cardamom notes do linger a bit in the mouth. It is not overly spicy, causing a pleasant warmth rather than an unpleasant lingering heat.
Since I wanted to bring out a stronger chocolately flavor, I decided to try this chai latte-style, and use chocolate almond milk. I made a fairly strong infusion and was careful not to overdue the hot milk, and it was very tasty! A good choice to “ramp up” the chocolate flavor since I found that rather subdued in the base tea.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Sweet
Let me just start this review by saying I normally like rose and cardamom-flavored things; the container of rose-cardamom ice cream in my freezer is testament to that.
That said, this was awful. The first thing I often do with a new tea is open it up and take a whiff of the dry leaf; I instantly regretted it as this smelled powerfully, overwhelmingly like floor cleaner. I actually grimaced a little. To be fair I’ve had a lot of teas with a strong scent in the pouch that turned out to be more subtly-flavored, so I decided to brew a cup, add some sugar, and try it out.
It tasted just like it smelled, but now it was sugary floor cleaner. One of the listed ingredients is cardamom flavoring, and there’s far too much of it. I hardly get any of the rose for all the cardamom, and it goes beyond making the tea spicy and on to simply unpleasant. Maybe if it had cardamom seeds or pods instead of flavoring it would be better-balanced, but as it is, it’s a no-go for me.
I’ve never read Joyce but this tea is fantastic. I’m glad that S&V included a plain black tea blend because this one is amazing. The blend uses three black teas from India, Sri Lanka and Kenya. Not sure what they are specifically, but the result is perfection. I would agree with S&V’s description that this is a malty brew with a fruity aftertaste. The sweetness and depth are there. I love a strong yet sweet black tea. I can appreciate a great complex black tea. Too complex to really fully describe. Note to self: I brewed this perfectly. I’d stock up on this one!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 12 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 3-4 minute steep