Simpson & Vail

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Recent Tasting Notes

70
drank Shenandoah by Simpson & Vail
98 tasting notes

This is the last from the National Park sampler. I managed to be the first one up on this hot Saturday morning and thought I’d take some time out on the deck with a mug of tea. My alone time was very brief but it was still quite pleasant spending the early morning hours with my daughter watching birds.
I’ve not been to Shenandoah or read much about the park so I don’t know if it accurately reflects the area. I read other reviews that noted a blue hue to the tea but I don’t see it. After my steeps, the color is a rather hazy green. Perhaps my batch doesn’t have enough butterfly tea flower in it. The tea itself was a nice blend. It is a smooth green tea with a touch of ginger and lemon to it.

Flavors: Ginger, Green, Lemon

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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57

The TTB arrived today, to my delight! Of course it came the one day I was actually in the office, so by the time I got home and rummaged through the box, it was too late for anything caffeinated. I opted for this (seasonally inappropriate) rooibos after dinner because my stomach was a bit upset and something minty sounded appealing.

Unfortunately, the stevia was just too overpowering! Part of the reason I dislike stevia is because I feel like it leaves a weird coating on my tongue, and that was happening big-time with this blend.

On the other hand… I was drinking it so slowly that it had gotten cold by the time I finished the mug, and the stevia was much less overwhelming. I got a fairly pleasant, full-bodied mintiness in the cold tea. Still sweeter than I’d prefer, but much more palatable.

Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Peppermint, Stevia, Sugar, Sweet

Shae

This one sounds good, but I agree with you on the stevia. There are a few teas I’ve tried where I can’t taste it, but most of them have that artificial sweetener taste/feeling. I like the idea of a candy cane rooibos though! Even if it isn’t seasonally appropriate. :D

Kelmishka

Yeah, I’m always surprised when the stevia takes a backseat, because it’s usually just so prominent!

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79

Finally broke into the literary sampler I purchased last year. Since it was Easter, I started with Beatrix Potter’s blend. I have so many of her books and love Squirrel Nutkin the best.
I got a new tea kettle and I’m still trying to figure out if I like it or not. It was a gift but seems to have too much “fancy” for me. My last kettle was great and might be rescued from the basement. The gifter lives with me, so I think I have to try this out for a little bit longer.
I used about 1.5 tsp of leaf in my infuser and steeped for about 5 minutes. The first thing I notice is the strawberry flavor. It’s definitely a sweet tea and needs no added sweetener. After my experiences with the NSP sampler, I think S&V seem to be pretty darn good at coming up with teas that reflect their names. I’m fairly positive, if I had this one blindly, I would be thinking about gardens. Maybe the next one I’ll pull at random and see.

Flavors: Green, Spearmint, Strawberry

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
ashmanra

I have been thinking about buying this as the first tea to try with my twin grandsons, especially since we have a family tradition of reading one Beatrix Potter a night from Dec. ! to Dec. 23. They are already being read a few of the books.

ashmanra

Dec. 1*

Jen vB

Ohhhh I love that idea. When I had my first baby, my father gifted me the entire collection in one volume. It’s a bit unwieldly. But I still have my books from when I was young. They were gifted to me by our neighbors who were like 2nd grandparents to me.

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65

Apparently I like the idea of vanilla rooibos more than I actually like all of the vanilla rooibos teas I have tried. The rooibos in this one is pretty smooth compared to most of the others I’ve had, but it’s still not strong enough of a vanilla flavor for me. It’s not bad by any means, just kind of… boring. I’ll keep it around to drink when I need something mild when I am sick.

AJRimmer

In plain tasting teas like these, I like to add different flavor syrups to pep them up – you could try that!

Mastress Alita

That reminds me that I’m out of my lavender simple syrup, which makes me sad…

getanzt

Good idea, thanks for the suggestion!

AJRimmer

That sounds delicious! I’ve been enjoying the chai and butter toffee flavors from Skinny Syrups recently!

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81

Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a tea as grapey as this one. The black tea adds a florality, and the grape skin contributes a super strong wine-like grapiness. I might end up watering this one down a little! It doesn’t go along super well with my preferences, but it seems really high quality. Thanks to the TTB for exposing me to this one.

derk

Wow, that sounds interesting! Might make a good (diluted) carbonated tea.

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70
drank Zion by Simpson & Vail
98 tasting notes

One of the last from the sampler pack I picked up last year. I just finished it off this morning. I love how they intentionally blended this to represent Zion. The red color truly does remind me of photos of Zion.
I feel the stronger tastes are the rooibos and sage. I don’t sense the lavender but I do taste some of the berry. I found it to be an enjoyable tea. I wouldn’t put in on my “must buy” list but I would definitely drink it again.

Flavors: Berry, Rooibos, Sage

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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70
drank Zion by Simpson & Vail
98 tasting notes

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75

The chocolatey raspberry flavor in this seems to come out a little more after it sits for a while. I wasn’t tasting much at first but now I’d say it’s a pretty solid like.

Flavors: Chocolate, Raspberry

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This is very cozy and comforting with cinnamon and a hint of chocolate. I must say I’m a bit underwhelmed by the overall taste, but I guess I could use more leaf and more time. It won’t get bitter and it might bring out the subtle notes.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cocoa, Spices

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42
drank Acadia by Simpson & Vail
98 tasting notes

Just booked flights for one of two trips to western US National Parks today. This first trip this year will be the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. I’ve been to both before and I’m excited to take some Girl Scouts to explore.

Today, I’m finishing off Acadia. I am reminded of a pancake parlor in Norther NH. They make the best blueberry oat pancakes. I really hope I get to go up there this summer. As a tea though, I don’t find it exciting. I think as much as I love blueberries, I don’t care for the flavor in my teas. Maybe I haven’t found the “right” one though. Just means I need to keep trying. It’s not bad though, I’m just unlikely to purchase it again.

Flavors: Blueberry, Oatmeal

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec
gmathis

What a brave soul you are! What age range are your scouts?

Jen vB

Our Ambassador Girl Scouts are in their Junior Year of high school and have been planning this since 2019.
I also have a Daisy troop. Lifetime GS myself!

gmathis

Both ends of the age spectrum! Sal—oot!

Jen vB

True!
I thought I was done with my GS Volunteering but then my own daughter wanted to try. So I’m starting all over again.

gmathis

Fifth and sixth grade is my volunteer teaching wheelhouse and weekly gig, but for short spurts, it’s fun to change to a different age. I tend to trend down instead of up. Any way to turn a tea party into a badge opportunity?

Jen vB

Well our Daisy troop is using their Cookie Money on Build A Bear…. sooooo Teddy Bear Tea Party is in my calendar. :-)

mrmopar

Yellowstone wow!

Michelle

The Gros Ventre camp ground at Grand Teton has a daily moose sighting at sunset. Just ask at check in for the campsite numbers and follow the crowd of photographers.

Jen vB

Thanks for the tip! In all my trips up north, I’ve only seen a moose once. In the dark, off a highway!

Michelle

Oh, and there are a few elk that hangout in the grassy areas near the visitor center in Mammoth. Kinda weird to see elk that close to humans and not really care. I’d be happy to chat about either park if you had questions I might be able to answer, I live about 1.5 hrs from the east gate of Yellowstone.

Jen vB

Such a beautiful area of the country. I’ve been out there twice. Once backpacking for 2 weeks and once touristing (Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier). I’m looking forward to going back.

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79
drank Grand Canyon by Simpson & Vail
98 tasting notes

I think this is my favorite from the National Park Sampler I purchased. The prickly pear has shown up in two teas that I’ve enjoyed. I wonder if I can find one of those locally to try. I don’t find this overly sweet and, as others have said, vaguely of rhubarb.

Now, I really do want to get planning on my National Parks trips this summer!

Flavors: Rhubarb, Sweet, Warm Grass

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2021 sipdown no. 123

Thanks to Cameron for another great tea!

Okay, okay, okay. This one definitely has a fresh-from-the-oven carrot cake scent. My mom makes the best carrot cake. It’s one of her famous dishes in our family, so I’ve been a bit spoiled with amazing carrot cake. All that to say that perhaps my expectations are too high for carrot cake teas.

Actually, this tea is pretty tasty. There’s a definite sweet cream cheese icing-like flavour that’s coming forward here while the tea is quite hot. There’s a cinnamon flavour mixed with subtle hints of carrot in the background as well. The cream cheese icing falls away as the tea cools. I’m quite happy with this tea overall and would definitely consider ordering it for our cupboard.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 30 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML
AJRimmer

I need to reorder this one! Definitely a favorite from S&V.

Courtney

I was really happy with it too!

Cameron B.

Hmm I don’t remember being impressed with this one, I’ll have to try it again. :)

Courtney

It definitely became more cinnamon forward as it cooled (I noticed mention of cinnamon in your note). :)

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2021 sipdown no. 122

Another great sample from Cameron, thank you!

Wow, the scent from the steeped tea almost makes me think of a sparkling wine sangria with tropical fruits one would enjoy on a beach in the sunshine!

The taste is more subtle, with a mixture of cherry, raspberry, and hints of almond coming through. All against a smooth and unassuming green base. Overall a nice cuppa…maybe I wouldn’t mind to have a subtle flavoured green in my cupboard. Hmm, more thought needed. Also, I can imagine this might pop even more chilled/iced.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 30 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML
Cameron B.

I still haven’t tried this one. Oops?

Courtney

You should — it’s tasty! :)

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2021 sipdown no. 120

Thank you for sharing this Cameron!

This smells very strongly of Aunt Jemima syrup. Almost cloyingly so. Nevertheless, I let it cool a bit and dared to try. There’s perhaps some chestnut essence in there, but sadly hidden behind a solid wall of the flavour of Aunt Jemima syrup maybe mixed with an intense butterscotch (granted I haven’t had this syrup for at least 20 years). Ah well, they can’t all be winners!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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75
drank Rocky Mountains by Simpson & Vail
98 tasting notes

I think this is my favorite so far from this National Park Sampler. And honestly, I loooove the Rocky Mountains so that’s a bonus. One day I’ll have to get back out there.

Raspberry teas tend to turn me off but I like that the raspberry wasn’t too strong for me. I think it’s the sage that really makes this for me. This will be on my re-order list.

Flavors: Raspberry, Sage

Shae

What an interesting combination!

Mastress Alita

I’m a Rocky Mountain native! I have never tried this tea, but greatly enjoy the Tazo Rocky Mountain blend, “Juniper Mint Honey”.

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Backlogged Advent Note
Homemade Advent Day 18
from AJRImmer
This one was a nice herbal tea and reminds me a lot of one that my mom blends for me. It’s best with a little sweetener and milk to help soften the taste of some of the herbs.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Herbs, Medicinal

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76

Shae Advent Day 17

Yay another S&V tea! I’m surprised I’ve never ordered this one myself! The rooibos they use is pretty mild and pleasant. It doesn’t have the boldest EG flavor ever, but it’s nice. I think almond milk goes with it really well. It’s pretty similar to other rooibos EGs I’ve had, but nothing negative or weird here.

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80

I’m not great with simpler teas, because I don’t taste the nuances that others identify. This one does feel simple to me. It’s black tea with the barest hint of fruit at the end. I am certain it would make a delicious pitcher of iced tea that I could drink all day.

The whole leaves were fun to watch bloom as it steeped, and with a touch of honey, I even enjoyed it hot, even if I wasn’t immediately impressed.

sipsby advent, day 5*
(sipsby packages this in no particular order, so your order may be different than mine)

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87

Shae Advent Day 13

Yay, it’s always great to see a tea from my favorite company! I’m drinking this with milk and sugar, and the flavor is really pretty bready! I get a little bit of a baked cinnamon flavor and a lot of pastry flavor. The flavor really lingers in my mouth. This one is executed pretty well!

Cameron B.

I haven’t tried this one, but I love the French toast version!

AJRimmer

The French toast version is one of the best teas ever made! This one isn’t quite as good, but still super enjoyable.

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33

I’ve been drinking this one for the last two weeks. My first cup I did not care for it. I had my last cup today and I’ll say, it’s improved but probably still not one I would purchase again.

The leaves are neat to look at with bright colored berries mixed in. This probably should have been a sign to me that it might be a bit to sweet for my tastes. There is a strong berry taste with a very very very small hint of smoke if I concentrate hard.

Flavors: Berries, Blackberry

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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82

Okay, last new tea for the night. “New” meaning I’ve had it for nine months and never tried it, LOL! I don’t know what I’m thinking when I buy all of these chocolate teas… Although to be fair, this one has a fairly misleading name.

This is a much better chocolate tea (IMO) than the last though. It’s a darker chocolate with a bit of bitterness that helps sell it. It actually does remind me a little of the way the cake tastes in a Hostess cupcake, so I guess it’s spot-on. It is a touch artificial, but so are snack cakes, so it makes sense to me. The strawberry is there as well, as more of a supporting flavor. It does taste like a strawberry flavor you would expect to find in a snack cake, not like a fresh strawberry. There’s a touch of creaminess as well.

I’m highly impressed, to be honest. Chocolate teas aren’t generally my thing but this really does taste like a chocolate and strawberry cupcake. I bet it would be wonderful as a latte too. Nice job, Simpson & Vail!

Flavors: Artificial, Bitter, Cake, Candy, Chocolate, Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Jam, Strawberry, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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My last one to try from the National Parks collection! This is a blackberry black tea with a bit of lapsang in the mix for smokiness.

If I’m being honest, I knew immediately from the smell that I wasn’t going to enjoy this tea. The blackberry flavoring definitely has that chalky quality to it that always reminds me of berry-flavored Tums. I don’t know if other people ever have that impression or if it’s just a weird association I have, but it’s fairly common for me with berry flavoring.

Anyway! The blackberry is the strongest flavor here, and it does taste rather candy/artificial to me with some chalkiness. Almost like Smarties maybe, but less sweet? The smoke is extremely subtle, too subtle in my opinion. I’m not sure I would notice it if I didn’t know it was there. There’s just a hint of campfire smoke and dark wood behind the blackberry. A tiny bit of tartness pops up in the aftertaste, perhaps from the freeze-dried berries.

While I like the concept of this one a lot, it falls short for me because of the very candy-like blackberry and the almost imperceptible lapsang smokiness. Certainly not a favorite from this collection.

I think I’ll hold off on a rating because I feel like I have an abnormal reaction to a lot of berry flavors…

Flavors: Artificial, Berry, Blackberry, Candy, Chalk, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet, Tart, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
tea-sipper

Aw, it IS a great concept

Cameron B.

I know, I was excited for it! Ah well… Maybe someone else would love it.

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72

I’ve had this a bunch of times now and always struggle to describe it. The flavor is pretty herbal/savory, but pleasant. It’s fresh tasting, but I don’t find myself reaching for it very frequently. It’s difficult to identify individual flavors, but everything fits together well.

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