Simpson & Vail

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Recent Tasting Notes

69

Thanks to tea-sipper for this one! Despite ambivalent reviews, I was still curious to finally try it. I wasn’t a big fan at first. It’s rather astringent and plain. It has kind of a strange flavor seeping through that I can’t identify. The spices are mild. Maybe a bit of clove. Certainly nothing I would identify as baklava. With milk and sugar, it tastes decent. Like many other lightly flavored black teas. The more I drink of it, the more it’s growing on me. The spices somehow seem to show up more now. It’s not a great tea, but it’s enjoyable enough to finish the quantity I have. I really wish it tasted more like its name – that would be unique and tasty.

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75
drank Violet by Simpson & Vail
52 tasting notes

This is my first time trying a violet tea, so I really didn’t know what to expect. As others have said before, it does have a soapy/perfumy scent to it, but it’s not unpleasant.

Considering this is my first violet tea, I had no idea what it would taste like – but I really like it! It’s not too overpowering with the scent/flavor, but enough to where it reminds you, “Hey, I’m a violet tea!” Seems like this would also be a really good cold/iced tea.
Overall I really liked this one!

Flavors: Perfume, Rose, Soap, Violet

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73

I haven’t written a tasting note for this, though I’ve had it for a while. S&V actually sent me a tin of this one instead of what I ordered… so maybe that’s why it took a while, though I’ve drank it a few times. It’s a sweet blend – the most distinct flavor is the strawberry flavoring. But then there is hints of chamomile and spearmint, all on that rare green rooibos base. I can’t really taste the lemongrass, but I think this blend would be excellent with some lemon verbena. I wouldn’t say using the two teaspoons is too much… it seems like a good amount to use for this one. I like this blend, but with a few tweaks, it could be even more delicious. It’s nice to see the rare green rooibos though.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug // 8 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 minute steep

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drank Chai Chocolate by Simpson & Vail
2878 tasting notes

I received this a long time ago from another Steepster member in a sale. Thank you to whomever it was (this might be the first time I forgot who sent me a tea.) Usually the teas from S&V have spot on flavor and this one never really tasted like chocolate SO I was questioning the age of this tea from day one. The black tea also never seemed to get very dark unless I used two teaspoons. So this isn’t really a tasting note for this tea specifically… as I had the idea to make COCOA TEA. So I brewed up some of this chai western style, and then added some delicious cocoa, also from Simpson and Vail, when the infuser came out. I would say the result is divine. Tea and cocoa. I knew I wasn’t really ruining a possible older tea, while also adding some delicious cocoa flavor. I love their sugar free cocoa, as I don’t need more sugar in my day. I added more cocoa on the resteep. I really like this idea. It’s caffeine +cocoa. The flavor was earthy and chocolatey, while still having the hints of black tea in there. (I don’t really see too many spices in this “chai”… it looks mostly like black tea.) I’m not rating this tea as it is older + it had the addition of cocoa. It’s a great way to use up this tea + some of that amazing cocoa I’ve been neglecting. I had another genius idea: making a cocoa tea with Bird & Blend’s Dark Chocolate Chili Chai…. that will be AMAZINGGGG. I can’t wait to try it.

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76
drank Decaf Vanilla by Simpson & Vail
410 tasting notes

Oh, somehow I forgot to leave a review for this one. I think in general I don’t love the tea that S&V uses for their decaf black blends. I do find this to be perfectly pleasant with or without milk, but the black base could definitely be stronger. I usually add a teaspoon of vanilla to black teas to make them more exciting, and I may do that next time, but I’m enjoying the subtle vanilla flavor this one has. If I were going to order another decaf black tea from them, I would definitely go for the decaf earl grey instead. I miss it!

tea-sipper

Vanilla extract?

AJRimmer

Yeah the cheap fake kind.

tea-sipper

Interesting… never thought of doing that!

Kittenna

I’d considered that, but never done it…. I’m now feeling quite compelled to do so, knowing that someone has test driven it already!

AJRimmer

I’ve only done it with black teas, but it’s nice! (Also I use giant mugs, so maybe others wouldn’t want to put in a whole teaspoon).

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63

I’m finally trying the last tea from my November order. This one is surprisingly sour. I wouldn’t say I can taste dragon fruit specifically. It’s kind of just generically fruity. After brewing the leaves regularly, I did a second round with them cold brewed, and I actually enjoyed that one more. Maybe because the sourness disappeared and the tasty green rooibos was allowed to shine. To me, Adagio is still the king of the fruity green rooibos blends. I would not repurchase this one.

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Got this one from tea-sipper last summer, so thanks! I was working on it pretty steadily at first, but then I put it away, and sadly now it has become old ): I remember not loving it at first either since the main flavor is the tea, and it just didn’t have the light, fresh flavor that I was looking for, and I’ve never been able to spot a strong enough fruit presence. I love S&V, so I feel bad giving them a bad review, but this one is just not strong enough.

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93

I got this one in my swap with AliceG. The bag says Tea Runners, but it looks like they source a lot of their teas from Simpson & Vail, including this favorite of mine. Last time, I called it a weaker version of their snickerdoodle flavor. I’d like to issue an apology. The more I have of this tea, the more I see that it stands on its own. What a tasty, spiced, baked flavor. This is one that I savor each mouthful of. I probably still prefer snickerdoodle, but I’m really enjoying this one.
S&V is having a 15% off sale, but I sadly don’t have room in my cupboard right now. Looking forward to restocking some favorites this winter.

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93

I agree with other reviews comparing this tea to their snickerdoodle flavor, which is one of my absolute favorite teas. The flavor is very similar; it’s just missing the bit of sweet spice that snickerdoodle has. This is a nice desserty flavor, like a liquid cookie. I’m glad I didn’t open this one until I’d run out of snickerdoodle because this one really pales in comparison. If I hadn’t had snickerdoodle, I’d say this was a great tea. Or maybe it is great, and snickerdoodle is just extra super great. But I’m glad I have this to tide me over until my next S&V order.

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80

Teabox Tuesday! This is the last green tea from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and those that participated! Since I like fruity greens iced, I coldsteeped my sample of this overnight and filled my water bottle with it this morning… and then didn’t get to drink it because my stomach has been in migraine nausea/pain hell all day. Gastric stasis, so fun! After massive amounts of mint it feels like it’s trying to settle a little, so I’m finally getting to sample this tea… at least my water bottle stays ice cold and I can drink the tea tomorrow if my stomach is feeling better!

I have no idea how old this leaf might be now, but I’m still getting a rather strong tropical fruity scent from the tea. I’m not sure if I could place the fruit, though. Perhaps mango or passion fruit? I suppose the obvious answer would be guava, but I’m fairly certain that is a fruit I’ve never had before! (I’m so uncultured) This still has a great flavor and I think a cold brew was a great way to go as far as preparation; the tea tastes very thirst-quenching and refreshing and has a nice fruit flavor that lingers on the back of my tongue, but doesn’t come off overbearing or oddly artificial, or with any of the strange metallic notes I sometimes get from flavoring agents. I’m picking up notes of stonefruit, particularly a peachy/apricot taste, as well as mango and a subtle orange citrus and sweet berry note, with the berry flavor probably the most prevalent mid-sip, but the apricot/mango flavor lingering on my tongue the strongest in the aftertaste. The green tea itself doesn’t leave much of an impression on me compared to the fruitness of the blend, other than being quite light, delicate, and refreshing.

This is a water bottle I am going to enjoy! Thanks for sharing!

Flavors: Apricot, Berry, Citrus, Fruity, Mango, Orange, Peach, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 5 g 32 OZ / 946 ML
Kittenna

IMO guava tastes likes strawberry banana.

Mastress Alita

Eh, if I tasted banana then I’d hate it. That is my demon food.

tea-sipper

I think I added this to the teabox… I’m glad you liked it. :D

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94

I finished my decaf almond black from S&V, and my almond withdrawals led me to open this one. The primary flavor is quite a pleasant rooibos. There’s a bit of almond as well if you’re paying attention, but not enough that I’d notice if I hadn’t seen the name. It does show up in the scent though. There’s plenty of red rooibos out there that is just okay, but when you find a good one, it really hits the spot. If this were plain rooibos, I’d say it’s one of the best ones I’ve had. I should probably knock it down a few points for not being almondy enough, but it’s really tasty, so I think I’ll excuse it! I’m a huge fan.

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94

Additional notes: Sipdown of this lovely tea (if you use 1 1/2-2 teaspoons). I really would like to order some of my favorites from S&V but how about a sipdown goal of 80 before I do that. It will be some extra motivation anyway.
2019 sipdowns: 42

AJRimmer

I’m having the dilemma of reordering S&V favorites in the fall vs ordering from companies I haven’t tried yet. Trying new things is just so exciting!

tea-sipper

Or… both S&V and new. :D

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94

So this Valentine’s blend never falls on the right day, so here it is now. I’ve had this a couple times, but the cup today was my favorite yet. Using one teaspoon, I don’t think the flavor was working for me. I think the magic is using more than one teaspoon. I saw plenty of big cocoa nibs in the blend, as well as something red (I guess raspberry bits and hibiscus). The flavor on both steeps is a lovely cocoa chocolate. Probably one of the best chocolate teas I’ve had so far (especially a chocolate tea that doesn’t include cocoa shells). Sadly, there is never a noticeable raspberry flavor. But luckily I’m also never tasting any hibiscus… I really love chocolate and raspberry together so a great jammy raspberry flavor with THIS chocolate flavor might be the most amazing tea ever. I definitely might have to indulge with this tea and use TWO teaspoons at least to see what happens, though the black tea itself seems dark enough and the perfect briskness with a teaspoon and a half, so I shall see. Both steeps were very similar in the amount of chocolate flavor. I dumped half the second mug on the rug… I rarely do that… I was really enjoying this tea too.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep

The next day, I tried steeping two teaspoons while following the same parameters otherwise. Somehow this steep session was slightly less chocolatey than yesterday. However, now I’m noticing some hibiscus which is interesting. Obviously the hibiscus is not overpowering if I barely noticed it before. A little while ago, Mastress Alita mentioned a nice chocolate/hibiscus blend that actually sounded delicious, so it’s funny I actually HAD a chocolate/hibiscus blend around here. I do think the flavors are an interesting combination. I’ve had some unappealing chocolate teas, so this chocolate flavor being actually chocolatey is great. I guess the flavors that result are also in the luck of the scoop. The tart hint of hibiscus with chocolate is great. So basically I wanted to try the two teaspoons to make sure the black tea wasn’t too astringent, and it isn’t to me. I think the black tea strength was similar to yesterday’s 1 1/2 teaspoons. So I do prefer this tea with 1 1/2 or 2 teaspoons. This might get a rating of 79 with one teaspoon but using more tea makes this a tea I’d like to stock up on. And with a jammy raspberry flavor, this blend would be one of my very favorites.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep

Orphia

Glad to know the hibiscus isn’t really noticeable. I’ve been tempted to try this since I love chocolate and raspberry, but the presence of hibiscus in anything tends to balk me.

tea-sipper

I don’t think the hibiscus is too bad at all. It actually adds an interesting element to it – like a tangy note that lends to whatever raspberry is there. I don’t think I noticed any hibiscus in any of the steep sessions that I only used one teaspoon. It was more noticeable with two teaspoons, and I like it that way, so I’ll probably use two teaspoons in the future.

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60

This tastes mostly like a lemony black tea. It’s OK, nothing special one way or the other. It is fairly smooth but not outstanding.

Flavors: Lemon, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 6 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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70

Saved a small portion of this from the tea box. There was a little bitterness, which I fixed with some sugar. It’s quite pleasant! I often add milk to black tea, but I didn’t need to for this one. It’s not the sort of thing that I would buy, but that’s what sampling from tea boxes is for!

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83

Measuring this out, it turns out I’m selling most of it, so I steeped up two teaspoons to review before it went out the door. I had to eyeball the two teaspoons because these leaves are very long and wiry. I’m pleased to see S&V selling Bitaco’s teas because I remember someone on Steepster said they are difficult to find. So now there is another source to buy them. I tried this tea a couple times before and I just wasn’t loving the flavor results, probably because I wasn’t steeping it the ideal way or I just don’t love lighter flavored teas. Steeping it this way, I think this tastes exactly like a Ruby black tea – it has a flavor like the almond nougat within a chocolate truffle or marzipan. It’s interesting that the Ruby teas are from Taiwan and this is from Colombia, so it certainly isn’t sourced from the same area. I don’t think I was tasting that it was like a Ruby tea in past steeps, so using this many leaves must cause those flavors to appear. I’m very glad I didn’t steep this many leaves any hotter or longer, because it was a touch overdone like this, though not enough to ruin it. I do like it with this many leaves. The second steep was starchy and had more of a bread flavor. Looking forward to trying the other Bitaco teas!
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for not quite full mug // 17 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 minutes after boiling // 3-4 minute steep
tl:dr – This has the same flavor profile as a Taiwan Ruby tea if you use enough leaves.

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90

Yum. Cinnamon, apple, french toast, maple, butter. This one is really good. Good reviews on this so that’s all I’m going to say. :P

Thank you, Cameron B. :D

Flavors: Apple, Butter, Cinnamon, Maple, Sweet, Toast

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 354 ML
Cameron B.

You’re welcome! This is a yummy one. I think I need to order the Apple Cinnamon Coffeecake version to compare. You know, for science!

Kawaii433

lol… And yeah, that one sounds delicious!

Mastress Alita

The sacrifices we make for tea science!

Kawaii433

Both of you… haha :D #Science

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80

Growing up, orange pekoe was always my dad’s tea of choice, so I was inspired to pick up the decaf version as part of my order. I definitely enjoy plain black teas a lot more when I’m not stressed about having too much caffeine! The taste is sweet, malty, and mild. It gets a little bitter as it cools. I probably added too much sugar, but this was a pleasant cup. I’ll finish my one ounce, but I won’t reorder since I tend to go for more exciting teas. For what it is, though, this is enjoyable! The second brew didn’t have much flavor, so I guess I’ll only do one steep or a tiny second steep in the future!

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81

The aroma is nutty heaven. Can really smell the almonds and some sweetness. Smells like cookies.

After 3 minutes, it was still a very mild flavor, so I’m just letting the leaves sit in there as I sip it to try to bring out more flavor. There are biscuit/pastry notes, almond, sweetness, butter, cream… It’s just really mild. It’s pleasant though, and I’ll definitely finish it. :)

Thank you Cameron B.!

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cookie, Pastries, Sugar, Sweet, Toasty

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 354 ML
Cameron B.

I always overleaf these Simpson & Vail teas, they’re tasty but tend to be light on flavor.

Kawaii433

kk, will do that in the future. It is a good taste :D.

Cameron B.

Their teas are also very inexpensive, but their shipping is crazy if you spend less than $50.

Kawaii433

Thanks for info… I do anything I can not to spend any money on shipping. lol >.<

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100

Sometimes you have a tea that’s supposed to be whatever flavor, and you would never know if you hadn’t read the name on the tin. This one tastes exactly like french toast. You can taste the apple and cinnamon. It’s so, so good. When I saw a pouch of this in the tea box, I’m pretty sure I Iet out a little maniacal laugh because I was so excited to drink this tea again. My only wish is that they had a decaf version because I would drink it constantly.

Kawaii433

Cameron sent me a sample of this, now I’m really excited to try this. I went through the Lupicia and the B&Bs, now I’m on the S&V.

tea-sipper

….and another fan of Apple Cinnamon French Toast. The maniacal laughs are exactly why I added it to the teabox. :D

AJRimmer

It’s just the best. Thanks so much for sharing! :D

Cameron B.

I need to try the Apple Cinnamon Coffeecake version, just to compare… For science!

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82
drank Violet by Simpson & Vail
410 tasting notes

Sample saved from the tea box. When I was a kid, my mom would always carry violet candies in her purse, and this tastes just like those. I never really liked the violet candies, but for whatever reason, they were compelling enough that I’d eat them anyway. I added a fair amount of sugar, which adds a pleasant sweetness. The main flavor is violet. I don’t taste the black base at all. So if you want a violet tea, this is really it! The flavor and scent are very strong. Thanks for bringing back memories, tea!

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89
drank Violet by Simpson & Vail
2878 tasting notes

I had to try this one. Who else carries a violet tea? To be honest, I have no idea what violets specifically smell or taste like. The purple flowers in the blend add a nice touch. But this one is delightful. I’d say there couldn’t possibly be a better floral flavor. It has a lovely balance of floral but not too floral, balanced with a delicious sweetness. The black tea base is quite light, but with the floral accent it’s not boring. Without the floral, there is no way I’d steep up this black tea by itself plain. I’d say the first cup was perfect. On the second steep, the flavor wasn’t how I wanted it to be. Somehow there was quite a spicy flavor that took over? I should have waited a few minutes to steep. However, as it cooled, the flavor returned to that delicious flavor of the first cup, so flavor saved! I’ll try to remember that next time. Overall, I have no way to be sure this is accurately representing VIOLET, but as a floral tea, it couldn’t be tastier.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 17 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 2 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep

Kawaii433

Looks like another company I should try. :)

Cameron B.

@Kawaii – I sent you a couple of my favorites from them! ;)

Kawaii433

yay :D tytyty

AJRimmer

This tea was the strongest-smelling thing in the tea box by far! I grabbed a little sample of it, which I look forward to trying probably tomorrow.

Nattie

I love violets! Going to have to try this!

tea-sipper

AjRimmer – I hope you mean the strongest smelling when you opened the pouch, as I put the teas in good packaging?

AJRimmer

Yes, of course! You’re a pro (:

tea-sipper

oh okay, just wanted to make sure the pouches were still working.. or that there wasn’t a tea that was too strong for them! :D

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65
drank St. Nick's Tea by Simpson & Vail
249 tasting notes

Meh. Now that I’m looking at reviews here, I’m seeing that maple and nuts are a part of this. I don’t think I got that from their website description. <pausing to go look it up, to be fair> OK, it does mention nuttiness in several spots (not just almonds) and a touch of maple. If I had caught on to that, I probably wouldn’t have tried this one – not a nut fan in tea (other than almond) and not a maple fan in general. There is a dry unsweetened cocoa flavor to this (the kind that is bitter and reminiscent of coffee), and the maple and sort of pecan-type astringency are definitely present. I think it’s probably an OK tea if you like maple, pecans, and coffee, but that’s not me.

Flavors: Cacao, Coffee, Maple, Pecan

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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80
drank Floral Nectar by Simpson & Vail
410 tasting notes

Another lavender tea from the tea box – I’m not complaining! The main flavor is lavender with the bit of bitterness that lavender brings. The lavender flavor really lingers in your mouth. The black base definitely adds some complexity to the blend, but I’m not sure I would know it’s black tea if I hadn’t seen the leaves going in. So I like this blend, but I don’t like it better than S&V’s lavender lace, which is caffeine-free.

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