Simpson & Vail

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Recent Tasting Notes

60
drank Rooibos Chai by Simpson & Vail
672 tasting notes

As a chai, this is pretty weak. Very mild spices. It tastes mostly like rooibos and sweetness, though it’s not a super pleasant rooibos. I really love S&V’s green rooibos and their black tea, but maybe their red rooibos isn’t for me because none of these blends are working for me. It’s not like this tea is horrible. It’s just really not what you would expect. It’s not chai at all.

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55

The few Simpson and Vail teas I’ve tried have all had a sort of artificial, plastic-y scent. This one has that, but it’s super sweet smelling too. I can smell chocolate and caramel, especially after steeping, but in the sip it’s mostly that fake chocolate I don’t like in teas. Plastic cocoa butter. Fjellrev said that this one tastes like it has coconut in, and I have to agree. The sip is dominated by artificial chocolate, and closely followed by a fairly strong coconut note. I’m surprised it’s not actually a coconut tea, because the note is very definitely present. I actually really like coconut teas, so I’m not complaining about that. I just wish it were less generic artificial tasting. Not my favourite, but I’m happy to have tried it. Thanks for this, MissB!

Sipdown 218/399

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

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Thanks for adding this one to the tea box, tea-sipper! I’ve been meaning to buy some plain lavender forever but never got around to it. I’ve been adding this to earl grey lattes at a ratio of 2 tsp decaf earl grey to 1.5 tsp lavender for a large mug. I’m afraid that regular earl grey will taste boring now! This offers a nice lavender flavor. I’d probably want to try another brand to compare, but I definitely want to buy some lavender from someone. Or maybe grow my own?

gmathis

Not hard to grow!

AJRimmer

I’m starting an herb garden in a few weeks, so I can definitely try it!

Mastress Alita

I get lavender at the farmer’s market. Lavender latte’s are fabulous, I especially love the flavor with coconut milk! I also make my own deoderizer spray for the house by steeping up a few teaspoons of lavender, letting the brew cool, then mixing it with a teaspoon of lemon juice and putting it in a spray bottle and topping with a bit of water. Has so many uses!

Mastress Alita

Oh, and with iced tea season here, I also love adding a few teabags full of lavender buds to a pitcher of lemonade! It’s a wonderful flavor combination.

Martin Bednář

Certainly you can grow it yourself :) And certainly the plant is very pretty in few years!

AJRimmer

I absolutely love all these ideas. Another thing I want to try is mixing it with my taro powder and having taro lavender bubble tea!

Mastress Alita

Lavender black tea is my favorite flavor at my local bubble tea place! I have crushed lavender buds in a coffee/spice grinder to a powder and mixed it with sugar and cocoa powder to make lavender flavored hot chocolate, which is de-li-cious! (Rose cocoa also is great!)

Nattie

Oooh these are such interesting ideas!

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60
drank Rooibos Pear by Simpson & Vail
672 tasting notes

The scent here is definitely that of pear flavoring rather than authentic pear. The flavor is also rather fake and a bit chemically. The pear rooibos from Tebella was so well done, and I’m out, so I hoped this would be an adequate replacement. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I don’t mind the fake pear flavor, but the chemical flavor that underlies it is a bit off-putting. I like it well enough to drink it, but I would not purchase this again.

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78

From the Samurai TTB.

I enjoyed this one, another from tea-sipper. It’s a solid black tea. Maybe not as bold as I would have liked, but as it cooled I really enjoyed the chocolate flavor that came through. In fact, I think I preferred this at room temperature. The flavor was more pronounced.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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55

From the Samurai TTB.

I can’t say I was really impressed by this one. I liked the way it smelled in its pouch so I thought I’d give it a try. I like rooibos, I know a lot of people don’t, but I do also like to taste the other flavors in a flavored rooibos. It smelled vaguely fruity before steeping, though I wouldn’t call it tropical, but afterward it tasted only like plain rooibos. I sipped a bit, put it in the fridge for later, had a few sips cold the next day, put it back in the fridge, and there it languished until I dumped it three days later. It’s not that it was bad. It wasn’t. But it was unremarkable. I guess forgettable is the right word, because I kept forgetting it until it was just too old to drink. I almost always finish my cup, unless it’s awful, but this one I just forgot.

Thanks for adding to the box, AJRimmer!

Flavors: Fruity

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

I don’t know why, but your tasting notes sometimes don’t show up in my feed until days later :/

Shae

I like to log my teas when I’m drinking them but I’m usually working so I make notes in a little notebook until I can go back later and type them up on my computer. I hate adding notes on my phone but like to remember when I actually drank the cup. Sorry, I know that makes things confusing!

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84
drank Cocoa Shells by Simpson & Vail
989 tasting notes

From the Samurai TTB.

This one has been on my list to try since I first opened the TTB. I’ve been waiting to have it as an evening cuppa but haven’t really been drinking much of anything after dark. I’m finally getting around to making a cup today and have absolutely no regrets. It’s delicious. I did add some oat milk, so it’s pretty much a hot chocolate and I love it. It reminds me very much of the German’s Chocolate baking bars. So basically liquid chocolate. Many thanks, tea-sipper, for introducing us to this one!

Flavors: Cacao

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
tea-sipper

You’re welcome! I like converting anyone to the cocoa shell. :D

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70
drank Burgundy Blast by Simpson & Vail
672 tasting notes

If you oversteep this, it leads to quite the sour brew…I know this because I’ve done it several times, whoops. But a pleasantly tart brew can be pretty refreshing. I’d say hibiscus is the main flavor here. It’s best cold. I wouldn’t repurchase this one because it’s not special enough, but it’s a fine example of a tart tea that can be pleasant when brewed properly.

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80

This tea smells strongly of sweet strawberries. It needs to be overleafed, but the strawberry flavor is quite authentic and tasty. With milk, it’s like strawberries and cream. It’s a dessert tea that isn’t too heavy and indulgent.

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90

This smells so rich and chocolatey that I had to grab a sample from the tea box. The flavor is so malty and thick. I’m really enjoying it. This is my kind of black tea. I added some milk, but it’s also good without. It’s like dessert in a cup.

Shae

I’m drinking this one right now too!

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68

From the Samurai TTB.

I’m not sure I know what to say about this one. It tastes good. I’m enjoying it. But it’s not memorable. That sounds harsh, I know. I guess it’s just that I’ve had better teas lately. Also, there were a couple of teaspoons left in the bag so I used half, but I probably should have used the rest. I think that likely would have made a difference.

EDIT – Thanks to tea-sipper for including this one in the box!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
AJRimmer

Yeah I overleafed this one for sure!

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78

Not my favorite example of Golden Monkey, but still very drinkable. The first steep got more chocolatey with each sip as it cooled. The second steep is a bit disappointing , its still smooth, malty, and chocolatey, but its just a muted version of the first steep. I’ll try using more leaf and see if the second steep holds up, this doesn’t seem like overleafing will become a detriment to taste. While this tea is quite good, I might try a taste test beside the SV Tippy Yunnan to see which I prefer more.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt

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73
drank Orange Spice by Simpson & Vail
672 tasting notes

This was a free sample in my last order. Hot it tastes a little…mustardy? Once it cools, you definitely get the orange with the mild warming spice. It’s a pretty gentle, pleasant tea. I’m not sure I prefer this to grocery store versions of this tea, but it’s definitely not a bad time.

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90

From the Samurai TTB.

I completely missed that this one is also on my wishlist so ignore my comment in that last post. The reviews on this tea are insanely good. I was already excited after reading through some of them when I found the package in the tea box. I could smell the fragrant cinnamon before even opening the bag. And thank goodness, it’s not that spicy red hot cinnamon. That’s my least favorite of the bunch.

I used 1.5 teaspoons and steeped according to the website directions. I tried it after adding a spoon of honey and it was good, but then I poured in a bit of Oatly Barista blend for some creaminess (still out of cream) and it’s next level. Wow. I had to stop myself drinking it so fast so I could take some notes before it was gone. I can’t say I tasted french toast exactly, though everyone else seems to so it’s probably something to do with how I steeped it. The apple cinnamon flavor was spot-on though and so delightful. I wish I had taken better notes because this is all vague and uninteresting but now my cup is empty and I can’t nail down the specifics. I’ll just say it lives up to the hype, for sure.

Oh and thanks, tea-sipper, for adding this one too!

Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon

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

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78

From the Samurai TTB.

I’m finally breaking into this beautiful tea box! It feels like I haven’t had tea in at least a week (though it hasn’t been nearly so long) and I couldn’t tell you why. I’ve wanted some but I guess I haven’t had the motivation to make a cup? Anyway, I thought I would start with the one tea in the box that I had on my wishlist.

The Simpson & Vail website mentions pomegranate in this tea’s description, though I didn’t taste any of that here. For me, it was unequivocally a chocolate and raspberry duo. Nothing else. I gratefully couldn’t taste the hibiscus one bit either. The chocolate was a bit thin for me at first, with the raspberry coming through after, but overall it was a well-rounded cup.

As I was drinking it, I couldn’t help but think about 52Teas’ Peanut Butter and Raspberry Jelly which is probably my favorite raspberry tea. That one doesn’t have chocolate, so I probably shouldn’t compare, but I do think I like the 52Teas raspberry better. It’s more jammy (jammier?) which I like. I’m glad to have tried this one and to mark it off my To Try list. Thanks, tea-sipper, for adding it!

Flavors: Chocolate, Raspberry

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

Something in my head is whispering ‘mix them’

Shae

Oooh I like how you think.

tea-sipper

I bet you’d like Lupicia’s Framboise Chocolat if you haven’t tried it, it’s very jammy too.

Shae

I’ve never tried that one, but I’ll add it to my list!

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81

Thanks so much again for the swap, AJRimmer!  This is how I’ve never run out of new teas to write tasting notes for… there has always been teas that are new-to-me because of so many swaps over the years. :D  This is actually tastier than I expected.  The rooibos is okay – but it does have that woody flavor that reminds me of a barbecue sauce for some reason.  But then there are fruit cubes in the blend that add a nice sweetness to the rooibos.  The fruits: papaya and mango, for a fun twist on the name PAPANGO.  (You can even get these papaya and mango cubes separately from S&V for pretty cheap if you want to try them that way. I have tried both the mango and papaya before and they are delicious.)  So a few cubes in a teaspoon along with the rooibos lends plenty of sweetness to a refreshing cup.  You can even add more of the fruit cubes to the blend if you wanted.  The second steep is full of flavor too.  I really appreciate that S&V blends their own teas (and SO MANY blends) because I am guaranteed to find unique teas from S&V, more than any other tea shop.  I hope everyone at S&V is doing okay during these tough times.
Steep #1  // 1 1/2 teaspoons for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling  // 2 minute steep
Steep #2  // just boiled //  5 min
2020 Sipdowns: 32 – TeBella – Almond Shortbread

tea-sipper

oh and Happy Mom’s day to all of you moms out there.

AJRimmer

Hmm maybe I need to try your brewing methods on some of the rooibos blends I’ve been having trouble with (it’s very helpful that you include those details!)

tea-sipper

Yeah, if anything, the parameters are the reason I write tasting notes to remember what worked/didn’t for future steeps.

tea-sipper

I’ve learned sometimes cooler water/ less steep time is much better. I was reading a past tasting note today for an oolong I had in the past and I was thinking “I steeped an oolong like THAT?!?”

tea-sipper

Also, Cyndi from S&V responded to my e-mail and all at S&V are doing ok!

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69

Thanks so much for the swap, tea-sipper! Everything looks great, as always. I started with this tea because I was in the mood for something lighter. It’s slightly minty while also being herbaceous. It has a lot of ingredients, and I certainly can’t taste them all. I wouldn’t say that everything necessarily fits together perfectly, but it’s not bad. There’s just something a little tangy in there. So yeah, I wouldn’t buy this one, but enjoyed sampling it.

tea-sipper

You’re welcome! I haven’t tried this yet.. probably should…

AJRimmer

I still haven’t tried some of the teas I sent you either! There are just too many teas :P

tea-sipper

Yup. haha

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I’ve given this one three tries to see if I could make it taste delicious. I’m afraid I’ve failed. It just tastes and smells so chemically. It’s like floor cleaner. I don’t usually go for tropical flavors with red rooibos, but I figured if anyone could do it, it’s S&V. Unfortunately not. Perhaps I just received an off batch since other reviewers had a different experience. The only way to make this tea tolerable is to drink it cold. Then the negative flavors fade to the background, but they’re still there.

Nattie

Have you tried cold brewing?

AJRimmer

I often cold brew second steeps of fruity teas or green teas, but I guess I always thought red rooibos would turn out strangely cold brewed. Not sure why. I should try!

Nattie

I’ve cold brewed red rooibos a few times and I think it tones down the woodsiness while the other flavours are brought out more. Good luck if you try it!

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96

The flavor here is so fun. The chestnut tastes so authentic, even a bit salty. It’s really strong and nutty. I added just a little milk, and it’s really delightful. The rooibos is the perfect supporting player for the flavoring. The second steep tasted almost as strong as the first. I love a strong, nutty tea, and this has to be one of the best ones yet.

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93
drank Cocoa Shells by Simpson & Vail
672 tasting notes

This was a fun find from the tea box! I didn’t love the flavor before adding milk, but once milk is added, this is almost like hot chocolate! (Except I’m drinking it cold) The chocolate flavor is deep and tasty, and the second steep tastes as great as the first. Now I’m thinking I should order some of these to add to teas that aren’t chocolatey enough. This might even be tastier than most chocolate teas I’ve ever had – and there’s only one ingredient here! The more I drink it, the more I like it.

tea-sipper

AND this is very cheap from S&V!

AJRimmer

I really can’t argue with S&V’s prices. You get a lot for your money there!

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I really want to like this blend, but to me I taste the bergamont more than the Lapsang . I’m not a big fan of bergamont so that makes this blend not so tasty to me. I like smoky teas, so in sips where the LS comes through, this blend is okay. It seems like a missed opportunity to get a more balanced blend, and actually taste the beetroot or the puerh which, to me, seem more Poe than bergamont or LS (which seem rather ordinary for an author like Poe). I like the second steeping better than the first, but it still has too much bergamont and not enough other flavors for my taste.

Flavors: Bergamot, Smoke

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100

This tea was just as delicious as I had hoped it would be. So sweet and minty and authentic. The flavor truly is like a candy cane. You get some nice tingling from the mint, and the flavor lingers for a long time. Really super great.

tea-sipper

I ALMOST sent you some of this, but I thought mine might be a little less fresh than I’d like. I did try it after I boxed up your teas and it was slightly different tasting, so I’m glad I didn’t end up sending you any. :D

AJRimmer

Yeah I’m making an effort to try all my S&V teas soonish because I want to try them at their best! I’m really glad I ordered this one – so great!

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85
drank Yellowstone by Simpson & Vail
94 tasting notes

It’s a good day to start reviewing some of the teas I have while rewatching Harry Potter movies.

Don’t see too many prickly pear teas around other than herbal ones (and those will usually have hibiscus, which is the biggest NO ever for me), so this had me curious. Plus, 10% of all sales in the National Parks tea line go to charities supporting those parks.

The first thing that hit me when I opened the package was a strong fruity scent that reminded me of gum or candy. That carries over to the brewed tea as well, to the point that I could still smell it from the other room over. I mainly tasted prickly pear and strawberry. The bergamot, not so much. If you were expecting something like a prickly pear Earl Grey, you’d be disappointed. If you like fruity teas, strawberry, or prickly pear, I’d give it a shot.

tea-sipper

Oh the first one on Steepster to try the parks teas! :D

Orphia

Yep. Look at me, being a trendsetter. :D Think I’ll try the Smoky Mountains blend when I don’t have a massive surplus of teas on-hand.

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82

Thanks so much for the swap, AJRimmer!   I honestly didn’t think I’d like this very much, but as usual, S&V surprises. I expected a deep red cup, but not at all, the mug is light green somehow.  There are rosehips in the blend, so I’m surprised.  It’s very true to black currants but not overpowering (or an explosion really).  I was hoping for more raspberry flavor but didn’t see too many in my teaspoon anyway.  I was worried the blackberry leaves would overpower, but I don’t notice them.  The flavor is simply black currant.  So A+ in being very accurate!   I’m not a big fan of black currant, but this is the blend I’d keep in stock if I were craving it.
Steep #1  // 1 1/2 teaspoons for full mug // 12 minutes after boiling  // 3 minute steep
Steep #2  // 4 minutes after boiling //  4 min

AJRimmer

Growing up, we’d often make Welsh cookies (a recipe passed down my family for who knows how many generations!) and those incorporate currants, so I was super happy to find a tasty currant tea that reminded me of that family tradition.

tea-sipper

I’ve never heard of currants in cookies before!

AJRimmer

Here’s the recipe if you’re interested! I always have to order my currants online since I’ve never seen them in a store before. They can also be made with raisins etc if you’re not a big currant fan.
http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/22308/welsh-tea-cakes.aspx

tea-sipper

oh man, they look like pancakes. I LOVE pancakes. :D

AJRimmer

I’d never really thought about it before, but they are like dense, bready pancakes!

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