Silky Spice from Simpson & Vail

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal/Spice Melangé

Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail

Company Description:

This fabulously heady blend of hibiscus flowers, cinnamon, cloves, sarsaparilla, coconut, allspice, and orange blossoms with vanilla and cinnamon flavors brews to a deep red cup. Definitely a palate pleaser! The taste is slightly spicy, with a creamy finish and a lingering spiciness that is uniquely refreshing.

Taster’s Review:

While I had high hopes for this tea, I was also a bit hesitant to try it.  All of the ingredients sound GREAT… except the hibiscus!  So, here, with a little apprehension, I am about to taste this new herbal/spice melangé offering from Simpson & Vail.

First reaction:  Interesting.  The hibiscus does offer its trademark tartness to the cup, as well as a bit of body to what might otherwise be a somewhat thin tisane.  That being said, I’m still of the opinion that this would be better without the hibiscus.

But, lets consider the tea as it is.  I really like the spicy notes of this tea.  It isn’t a “hot” spicy, but more of a gently warm spice combination with a lot of character to it.  The cinnamon, cloves, and allspice give a nice, well-rounded spice taste that is neither too hot nor abundantly sweet.

What I really find interesting about this blend is the sarsaparilla.  It adds a really intriguing note to the cup.  The vanilla is soft and adds a sweet creaminess to the tisane, as does the coconut. There is a also faint citrus note from the orange blossoms.

I think I prefer this hot, because some of the most interesting flavors become a bit more elusive as the tisane cools.  Try it with a drizzle of honey – I love how it brings out the sarsaparilla! 

Here is a recipe for Silky Spice Hot Grog, found on the Simpson & Vail website:

Simmer 1 cup of apple cider and 2 Tbsp Silky Spice Hibiscus Herbal Tea for 10 minutes.
Strain out the herbs.
Sprinkle cinnamon and garnish with orange slices and a cinnamon stick.
Makes 1 serving.

Java Kertasarie Estate Tea from Simpson & Vail

Tea Type: Black Tea

Where To Buy: Simpson & Vail

Product Description:

The medium-brown leaves brew to a greenish-brown leaf, with a flowery aroma. The amber cup of Java Kertasarie Estate is medium-bodied, brisker tasting than a Ceylon and has a flavorful infusion with a delightful oak cask aftertaste. Brew tea at 212º – steep for 3 minutes.

Tasters Review:

I’m revisiting this tea EARLY this Monday Morning – and let me tell you – this tea is MEANT for Monday Mornings!

Java Kertasarie Estate is a wonderfully bold, black tea.  It’s full of flavor and surely helped me wake-up when I really didn’t want to.

Each time I have tried this tea I have picked up on the notes of oak which is unique yet tasty.

This time around I noticed the floral notes in the beginning of the sip and a more masculine/woodsy finish.  A nice solid tea that both men and women will enjoy!  Not too girlie – yet – not overly rough and tough.  Although, I might say, more masculine than feminine, but I’m ok with that!

I think I like this one specifically for the boldness!  I tend to infuse more than the amount suggested because I like bold teas and this one certainly is.  It’s like Black Tea…to the 2nd Power!

All I need now is a New York Style Bagel with Cream Cheese!  My morning would then be complete!  Thank you for another great tea S&V!

Burgundy Blast from Simpson & Vail

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail

Company Description:

This refreshing blend brews to a bright cherry red color with a sweet, tart taste. Comprised of hibiscus flowers, mango, papaya, lemongrass, safflower, mallow blossoms and acai and pomegranate flavors, this tea is fabulous both hot and iced.

Taster’s Review:

I’ll be honest, this tea scared me a little bit… a quick look at the ingredients made me think that this would be just a little too sour for my taste buds.  So I put off trying it until now…

Yes, it IS a bit tart … BUT… it is also very tasty!  It has enough sweet fruit flavor to it that it smooths out the tart edge just enough so that it’s agreeable.

The key, I think, is to not allow it to steep too long.   I steeped it for just 5 minutes.  This is enough time to extract flavor from the herbs and fruit without allowing the hibiscus to offset the delicate balance of this cup.  Another important factor is that I served it iced.  The chill allows the flavors to mellow out without dulling them too much.  When it is hot, the flavor is much more potent.

But… let’s get on to how this tastes, because it is really quite tasty.  I can taste mango and papaya, pomegranate and açaí.  The lemongrass offers just a hint lemony taste, and it is just the right touch to the sweet-tart blend of fruits.

The hibiscus offers some body to this blend – but because I only steeped it for 5 minutes, it isn’t a thick, syrupy consistency.  It is also not overwhelmingly sour.  It offers just the right level of tart to create a very delicate balance between tart and sweet. 

Simpson & Vail has a very intriguing recipe for this tea – Burgundy Blast Fizzy Drink – which can be found here.  It looks absolutely delicious!

I enjoyed this tea very much and it was just the right tea for today, because even though the calendar says it’s autumn, the weather is very summer-like.  It was HOT today!  Drinking this as an iced tea was very refreshing!

Java Kertasarie Estate Black Tea from Simpson & Vail

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail

Company Description:

The medium-brown leaves brew to a greenish-brown leaf, with a flowery aroma. The amber cup of Java Kertasarie Estate is medium-bodied, brisker tasting than a Ceylon and has a flavorful infusion with a delightful oak cask aftertaste.

Taster’s Review:

There are a few words that come to mind immediately when I taste this tea – bold, brisk, lively – but I don’t think that these words quite do this tea justice.  That’s because I use words quite often that they’ve become quite generic when describing tea.

And this tea is quite unique from other black teas I’ve tasted.  The Java Kertasarie Estate is in Indonesia, and I don’t recall having tried teas from Indonesia before.  Now, you may be thinking – does it REALLY make that much difference where the teas come from?  How much does that really affect the flavor of the tea?

My answer is, quite simply:  It affects the flavor immensely.  The climate, weather conditions, humidity, soil quality, amount of sun, and amount of shade… even the surroundings – like what kind of trees or flowers are growing in the surrounding area – affect the flavor of a tea.  And then, you have more controllable factors as well, such as harvesting and drying techniques which also affect the flavor of the tea.

As the description of this tea from Simpson & Vail (above) suggests, this is definitely brisker than a typical Ceylon tea.  It has a deep woodsy note to it (I’d describe it as oaken, which matches the Simpson & Vail description as well).

The is very vibrant and strong tea that pairs very well with sweets (I decided to indulge in a couple of cuccidata cookies when I drank this tea) – this pairing resulted in a slight honey-esque tone that I could detect, that I didn’t taste as strongly when I drank it without the cookie.  It’s still there… but, it is somewhat disguised behind the stronger essences of oak.  There is also an underlying floral essence and a hint of fruit to this tea as well.  It is delightfully complex and one that I’ve enjoyed tasting immensely.

Solar Plexus Yoga Herbal Tea from Simpson & Vail

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail

Company Description:

The Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) is located in the solar plexus and is associated with the color yellow and the symbol of the ten-petal lotus flower. It is the seat of our emotions and our desire for non-dominating power, energy, and spontaneity. It is responsible for the regulation and distribution of energy in our body.

In balance, this chakra will activate our soul and enable us to be confident, focused and comfortable with ourselves, transforming our emotions into soulful passions that will radiate outward.

This energizing tea has a golden cup with a complex flavor that is smooth and has a lingering earthiness. Connect to the solar plexus energy by rubbing your belly and breathing using your diaphragm. Try empowering yourself by changing your thoughts about your daily activities from “I have to” to “I choose to”.

Suggested yoga poses and further information on this chakra are included inside the 3 oz box.

Organic Lemon Peel, Anise Seed, Eleuthero Root, Cinnamon Bark, Fenugreek, Fennel Seed, Damiana Leaf, Ginger Root & Cadamom Seeds.

Taster’s Review:

I must admit, this tea scared me a little bit at first.  While reading the name of the tea “Solar Plexus” – my thought was “health food” – and not in a good way!  But my curiosity and sense of adventure won out over my apprehension and I decided to give it a try.  After all, how bad could it be?  If it was really bad, I could always dump it out and brew something else.

But no need!  This is actually quite tasty!  The ginger root, cinnamon, fennel seed, and cardamom give it a real pleasing warmth and peppery kick.  The ginger dominates, but I really like how it plays with these other spices.  It almost gives the overall cup a sort of chai-like flavor – but it’s a bit more complex than that.

The lemon peel gives a nice, citrusy flavor and an appealing taste, especially when paired with the ginger.  I can also taste a pleasant licorice kind of flavor from the anise – and I think that this just might be my favorite part of this tea!  YUM!

The other herbs and spices in this blend I am less familiar with, so it is difficult for me to discern their actual contribution to the overall flavor of the cup.  But, what I can say is this tea has a very interesting depth of flavor that is quite unlike most herbal teas I’ve tasted.

I was very happily surprised by this tea.  It is tasty, and has a very soothing effect.  I like it!

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