Simpson & Vail

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Recent Tasting Notes

I had the most wonderful night! My neighbor two houses down and across the street lives alone and is 96, and she will be 97 next month! She is delightful lady. Getting the motivation to leave the house after supper takes some prodding for me but I really enjoy visiting her. She is a night owl like me. Tonight I called to see if it was a good night for a visit and she said yes!

When I got there, she had a bag of flour on the counter and told me she had been trying to decide whether to make biscuits. She really wanted some, but….

I told her I made biscuits just once about twenty years ago and they were terrible, and I asked her if she would teach me to make biscuits. (My mother was a true Southern lady but was raised in a progressive orphanage in the 1930’s that trained the kids in all the necessary skills for life, and because she was such a good seamstress they never made her do the kitchen work rotation to learn to cook. We ate canned biscuits!)

As you can imagine, there was no recipe. Just a bit of this and that, squish it with your hands, shape it with your hands, pat them flat one more time, and pop them in the oven. No, we don’t need to preheat and the temperature doesn’t matter a lot, just anywhere from 450F to 500F and she didn’t know how long, we would just look at them now and then.

As you can imagine, they turned out great. I was able to get the strawberry jelly wrestled open for her and we had a late night snack. She offered me decaf coffee but I decided to wait and have my drink when I got home – this little beauty.

Of all the teas I ordered for fall and winter evenings, I really had no idea this one was going to be a big favorite. I think it is probably a shelf staple now. I think of oatmeal cream pies, not as chocolatey as I thought it would be but just right for what it is. I love it.

Ingredients so I don’t forget: around two cups of self rising southern biscuit flour made of soft winter wheat, one stick of butter, and almost 3/4 cup of milk, adding 1/2 cup and then extra as needed. That’s it. She didn’t really measure the milk but I watched and eyeballed amounts that she poured so I could try it this weekend on my own.

The oven was set to 455F and my guess is we cooked them for about twenty minutes. So yummy.

Cameron B.

This one totally tastes like oatmeal cookies!

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Strange VariaTEA TTB #10

I love a good coconut oolong, so I couldn’t resist giving this one a go! There’s actually a lot more than coconut going on here, though: it has cocoa nibs and vanilla bean and possibly some other vanilla/cream flavoring? The overall affect is a sweet, smooth, buttery blend with a slightly generic “dessert” flavor. It’s pleasant, but not nearly as coconutty as I was hoping, based on the name!

Flavors: Butter, Cocoa, Coconut, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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The background story on Simpson & Vail’s website about George the customer, and the inspiration for this tea, was heartwarming. As usual, Simpson and Vail has a good hand with blending their teas and for a good price. It’s a nice brisk breakfast or afternoon blend with black tea and oolong. There is a touch of fruit in there but I didn’t pick it up really. It mainly comes across to me as a straight out tea blend but a good one.

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The TTB has arrived! So big, so many teas… no chance to try them all!
Tea #26

Okay, I am a fan of this tea. I took two heaped teaspoons of this wonderfully smelling tea and steeped for 5 minutes and I got anything, but thin tea.

The strong base, even stronger cinnamon, not so much of (red) apples, and not much of toast itself (but it’s a bread, which is a bit tasteless).

I got everything what I have been expecting from this tea, but even a bit more. And that powdery mouthfeel after I had a last sip is a plus for me.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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It was my excitement over my S&V order that led my friend to order the holiday assortment that she brought over a few days ago and shared samples with me. Naturally I sent samples home with her from my order!

Ashman and I had this last night, and wow, is it fragrant! It smells like rich vanilla cake. I didn’t tell Ashman what it was and his reaction was funny. He said tobacco at first, then said it was specifically his father’s pipe tobacco, unlit, or walking into The Tinder Box at the mall. (Anybody on here old enough to remember that shop?)

I told him his dad must have smoked vanilla tobacco and he said that was probably the case. I was always partial to the smell of cherry pipe tobacco!

This resteeped like a champ and we combined the two for a really big pot of tea. I am pretty sure this is definite re-order for both my house and for my friend, because she texted me that this blend was AWESOME and she was going to try Lavender Lace before bed. When I texted this morning, she said she kept resteeping Birthday Blend and never got around to Lavender Lace.

I also sent a sampler to a friend several weeks ago for her birthday, and this was the tea she specifically mentioned and described in her thank you note.

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Sipdown! (38 | 353)

Yay, my last S&V pouch to finish from my order last year! I still have several tins, but those are all long term cupboard teas that I’m not looking to sip down.

This one is a really nice cake tea – the flavoring is cakey and buttery with a buttercream sweetness, just like a frosted vanilla cake. It’s also nice that it’s on a green rooibos base, so the flavors can really shine (plus no caffeine for a nighttime treat).

I don’t think I would order a tin of it, just because I don’t tend to reach for desserty teas. But would recommend it for cake lovers! Definitely one of the better birthday cake blends I’ve had.

Flavors: Butter, Cake, Frosting, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

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

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A friend dropped by with the S&V Holiday sampler today for us to try some of the teas.

This was Ashman’s favorite for drinking as a plain tea, though St. Nick’s won as a blend that would be good plain or as a latte and dessert-like cuppa to top with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. He said he is partial to green tea or white tea over black tea generally,
so not a big surprise.

He was a little unsure about the aroma but loved the flavor. They say there is figgy pudding flavor in this, but we have never had figgy pudding so we will take their word for it.

It definitely smells very fruity and I tasted vanilla. I thought I was tasting some clove and Ashman did, too, but there is none here and we decided it was the orange peel mixing with the cinnamon that came across as very mild clove.

This was good, but I don’t know that I need to order it when the cupboard gets lower.

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A friend dropped by with the S&V sampler this morning so I could pick teas to try. There were only three that really caught my interest and Nutcracker Blend has failed to woo me to order.

This one is a different story. Ashman right away was enamored of the aroma. He also liked the flavor. He said this was like drinking hot chocolate to him. We were having it plain, and he said he bet it would make a great latte as well.

He tasted cacao, which he greatly prefers to the artificial chocolate flavoring, and caramel most. The mild almond is nice in this, too.

This is a winner that we would be happy to drink again.

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A friend ordered the S&V Holiday Sampler and dropped by today so I could pick a few to try.

I chose Nutcracker Black tea blend, St. Nick’s Black tea blend, and Figgy Pudding Green Tea blend.

Ashman liked this one more than I did but said it wasn’t one he would want to order. It was definitely nutty but thin and maybe a little wood in the base. It just didn’t have holiday or dessert appeal to me. This was my least favorite of the three.

Cameron B.

Winter Wonderland is my favorite of their holiday blends! Sadly I don’t love any of the others, I wish I did. :|


I already had a whole tin of Winter Wonderland and I also like it very much!

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drank Lavender Lace by Simpson & Vail
3091 tasting notes

September Sipdown Challenge – a tea for which you are grateful

This is not a sipdown. This is a nearly new tin. I forgot what I had ordered from S&V and when I saw this I was really perplexed as to why I ordered it. I am so glad I did. I am mostly grateful to have found teas and tisanes without caffeine now that I have become caffeine sensitive. But I am grateful for this one because most of our caffeine free options are dessert blends or fruity blends and I really needed this for a night like tonight when my clenched jaw has inflamed my TMJ issues and I have a headache.

The others blends were purchased for fun evening tea and cookies or snacks with Ashman, but this one is a cup for quietness by candlelight with the windchime singing just outside my window.

It is lavender forward and the mint is just a slight cooling sensation and doesn’t take over the personality of the whole cup. Mild mint is very soothing and relaxing to me.

Hopefully once I finish this I can go to bed and fall asleep right away.


The tea sounds lovely and I hope your headache went away.


Thank you, Michelle! It did get better, and I fell asleep but woke up at 4 am with terrible reflux. Then Sam woke me up at 6 am to feed him! Ha ha! Now head and neck and hurting and I am hoping for an awesome nap at some point this afternoon.

Martin Bednář

Not much a comfy days, but comfy tea nevertheless!

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I bought some Simpson and Vail caffeine free blends for the upcoming fall and winter evening tea times with Ashman. He loves cookies and this sounded like one that woukd go nicely with desserts.

But first – does anyone else have a weird cupboard situation? For a very long time now, years even, I have noticed that lots of my teas duplicate. I tried taking one out of cupboard and it removes both. When I tried doing a rough count of tea on hand and comparing the numbers, they match pretty well. Then I noticed that some of my teas are not listed, but when I have a sipdown and go to the page and remove a tea from cupboard, the number on the cupboard page does go down by one. i have added the four new S&V teas but they do not show up in the cupboard for me even though when I go to their page, it says “added to cupboard.” Mystery.

Anyway, I made this first as a latte and it was such a hit that I wondered if we would like it plain. I was right about Ashman loving it.

Tonight we had a cookie taste off. Ashman wanted Keebler Pecan Sandies but wouldn’t buy them because they were not on sale and we were in one of the most expensive local grocery stores. Daughter went to another store today and they were on sale as well as there being a store brand, so I had her get both and we had a blind cookie tasting tonight. The store brand won! Ashman is happy because now he can have his cookies more often.

We drank this tea plain tonight. I resteeped it so we would have a huge pot. It was wonderful, nice and strong, and the shortbread flavor in the tea just complimented the shortbread style Sandies. It was excellent even without milk and sugar, and indeed would have been too much sweetness for me latte style while eating cookies, although Ashman wouldn’t have minded with his sweet tooth. The caramel is authentic tasting and the hint of walnut gives it depth.

We both loved it and I am really happy with the blends I bought to enjoy this winter. This is one I would definitely repurchase.

ETA: Now that I have logged a tasting note on this one, all my new teas now show up in my cupboard three days after I added them, but the number of teas is unchanged.
It also says that I have made no tasting notes for any of them in spite of this one being written today. Maybe it takes a long time to catch up.

Martin Bednář

As of cupboard — I think that if you have sorted them by “most drank”; there are “moving” if they have same number of times drank. That’s why I sort it by “Recently added”, as that is pretty clear when they were added to the cupboard (and database of your cupboard).
But why it took that long, no idea. Hopefully all Steepster issues will be solved and quickly, if possible.


I will switch it around and see if it helps much!

Cameron B.

Yeah they don’t seem to use secondary sorts (like for Most Drank, they should probably sort those with the same number alphabetically). So because of that, the order is not consistent and you may see the same tea multiple times as you page through, while missing some others.

Martin Bednář

Yes, exactly I meant that Cameron, but my English wasn’t good enough to explain :)

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A nice, malty tea to enjoy with milk and honey to unwind after a rough week!

Flavors: Brisk, Earth, Malt

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Sipdown! (35 | 287)

This was a nice enough tea, but I wanted more pear from it. There is a soft fruity note here, definitely more of a cooked pear, and I found the ginger overpowered it and made it difficult to taste. Not that the ginger is incredibly strong or anything, the pear is just a bit too subtle IMO.

Still a tasty tea, but more of a ginger-focused black tea with a hint of pear in the background.

Flavors: Earthy, Fruity, Ginger, Honey, Malty, Pear, Smooth, Sweet, Woody

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

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Sipdown! (5 | 257)

So this one was sadly just okay. I actually really like the flavoring they used – it has such a great balance of sweet apple and softly savory sage. The problem is, there’s just not enough of it in my opinion. The front of the sip is almost entirely the black base, which is smooth and somewhat earthy, but nothing all that flavorful. And then I get this really lovely light, lingering finish where the apple and sage poke their heads out.

I tried using a shorter steep to highlight the added flavors more, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. A bit sad, as I would adore this tea if only the flavoring were stronger, but alas, you can’t love them all…

Flavors: Apple, Earthy, Herbaceous, Mineral, Sage, Savory, Smooth, Sweet, Thin, Woody

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I’ve never been a rose fan but this one pushed my buttons. Enjoyed on Saturday during a readathon. Paired with some cheese and crackers, brewed in a 3 cup pot with two cubes of sugar and one heaping tsp of tea for five minutes. The rose is vibrant and not cloying or perfumey. I am used to London Victorian Fog and earl greys flavored with Lavendar, which this apparently has as a mild background accompaniment but not the main floral star. In this case, the rose is the predominant and it works smoothly and is unique and memorable. Will definitely be ordering more of this.

5 min, 0 sec

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Sipdown! (45 | 243)

This tea is really horrible… Like, shockingly bad ha ha.

Tastes like a pile of sour, wet-rag peppermint that someone tried to add white chocolate to. Which is bizarre, since this doesn’t even have peppermint leaf in it…
AJRimmer mentioned potato skins, and I can kind of see that too. There’s a certain earthy quality to it.

Just awful, tastes like something that’s gone bad LOL. As you might imagine, sour and white chocolate don’t pair well together… I threw the rest of the pouch away.

Flavors: Earthy, Musty, Peppermint, Sour, White Chocolate

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

Oh dear :|

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This blend is so delightful! Super refreshing and great hot or iced :)

Flavors: Astringent, Ginger, Lemon, Spicy

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Hmm… I don’t really know how much I really like this one considering I am a bit congested. However, I agree… the only note I am getting is clove. I don’t hate it but it was a little disappointing as I love baklava.

Flavors: Alcohol, Artificial, Clove, Musty, Wet Wood

Cameron B.

I remember this one being weird lol.


I just got clove, nothing else heh

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I’ve been loving this blend iced this summer! I have a small tin at work that I drink when I’m here :)

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I don’t know how I forgot to add this to my cupboard but oh well! This blend is special to me because the scent reminds me of my Grandfather (he is still with us, it’s not morbid but just nostalgic!). That being said, I have to agree with a lot of the other notes…

This blend is more of a Russian Earl Grey rather than a Russian Caravan. Luckily, I like both. I tend to enjoy smokier teas though I don’t own many at the moment. This blend is a bit bolder than a traditional Earl Grey but I wouldn’t say that it is that smoky. Faintly, yes but it is rather nice.

I still can’t get over the fact that I have never spoken about this tea before! I love this blend and I think that I have been drinking it for around three years now. Yes, because my original start on Instagram and my old blog was back in 2019 and I think I found S&V in January of 2020 so… yeah. Pretty cool. I love it iced, cold brewed, as a latte, or hot with a touch of honey!

Flavors: Bergamot, Biting, Bitter, Bourbon, Brisk, Earl Grey, Malt, Thick

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Sipdown! (7 | 204)

This one just seemed bland to me, no matter how I prepared it. Very thin and weak-tasting with a bit of apple and clove and a bit of tartness.

Tried the last of it cold-brewed, and I think it’s maybe a bit better, but still quite bland. It’s like a watered-down version of those hibiscusy mulled cider herbal tisanes that you often see around the holidays (from B&B, for example).


Flavors: Apple, Clove, Hibiscus, Tart, Thin, Watery

Iced 8 min or more

For a similar blend… Try Maple Apple Cider by Stash. It’s amazing hot and cold.

Cameron B.

I actually had that one not long ago and I did enjoy it!


It’s yummy in oatmeal!

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Sipdown! (33 | 348)

Really enjoyed this one, and it really does taste just like root beer. The woody rooibos base is a perfect choice since root beer has a bit of a woody/earthy note to it as well. It’s a bit naturally sweet, and even tastes a tad effervescent.

Also, it was really good as an iced latte! Very root beer float-y. I’m not sure I’ll reorder this one though, just because it’s quite a niche flavor for me and I don’t see myself reaching for it often. Definitely recommended for root beer and soda lovers though!

Flavors: Creamy, Earthy, Effervescent, Rooibos, Root Beer, Sarsaparilla, Smooth, Sweet, Woody

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

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