Charles Dickens’ Black Tea Blend by Simpson & Vail

Steeping specs: I steeped a heaping teaspoon of this tea in about 10 oz. of boiling water for three minutes.

I tried some of this tea before looking it up, so I didn’t know what to expect but then realized it was rather unusual so I checked out the background and steeping recommendations so I could give it a more “proper” review. Apparently it’s a combination of black tea, oolong tea, and natural flavoring (plus cornflower petals, which add visual interest). I found it to be quite a memorable blend.

(Combinations of black tea and oolong intrigue me . . . I mean, for one thing, they’re really hard to classify. For another, I’m never sure what combining them is supposed to accomplish. Is it supposed to be like black tea but with more floral notes, maybe? I wonder what black tea would taste like if combined with a smoky roasted oolong? Hmm, maybe it’s time for an experiment . . .)

After steeping, it’s a sort of cedar-mahogany color, quite clear, and not very viscous. The scent is a bit tart and so is the first sip. It’s rather more acidic and astringent than your typical black tea, but in a good way. It seems quite well-blended; I think the flavors balance well (they bring out the strong, tannic, earthy properties of the black tea). It’s nice and strong, which I like. It would make a great breakfast or afternoon tea, I think. The S&V website doesn’t say exactly what flavoring is in the tea, just that it has a currant aftertaste, but I found it to be quite hearty in a satisfying, filling sort of way.

Next I added sugar. Sugar tames it down a lot. It’s still strong and a bit astringent, but less acidic and curranty. (It still tastes vaguely berry-ish, though.) It’s also excellent with milk. Adding both sugar and milk makes it a hearty, strong, creamy, and well-rounded cup. Overall I’d give this tea a big thumbs-up for flavor, interest, and comforting-ness.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black/Oolong Blend
Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail
Description

Unlike many of his characters, Charles Dickens was born to loving parents in February of 1812. However, when he was only 12, his father was imprisoned for debt and Charles was sent to work in a blacking factory where he labeled endless bottles of shoeshine. He would leave the factory four years later to finish his education, but those formative years deeply affected him and inspired many of the boyhood horrors he would later write about. He wrote many of his most famous novels like Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby episodically, with a new chapter appearing in a magazine each month. These works examined the lives of the less fortunate and found humanity amid the most inhuman conditions.

Tea appeared in Dickens’ work as a calming force like in David Copperfield, when the main character recounts how he “sat swilling tea until [his] whole nervous system, if [he] had had any in those days, must have gone by the board.” Or it could surface as a commonality between classes that allowed Dickens to emphasize the stark differences between lifestyles. While a “real solid silver teapot” and “real silver spoons to stir the tea with” are listed among the treasures of Old Lobbs in The Pickwick Papers, “a regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes” described in Oliver Twist would provide “a public breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper all the year round.” Our Charles Dickens blend adds a flash of color to a traditional british tea. The blend is a hearty, well-rounded blend of China and Indian teas that has an amber cup with a light currant after-taste.

Ingredients: Black teas, oolong tea, flavoring, cornflower petals.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sensiblyscript

Sensiblyscript

Hi! My name is Tabitha and I'm an uprooted PNW native living in the South with my husband and my cocker spaniel.

My favorite teas are usually dark and strong and go well with milk and sugar. I like to combine tea-drinking with all of my favorite activities, such as listening to music, reading YA fiction, knitting, and writing blog and website content for businesses. Because I'm a well-rounded person, I also have other interests, such as wearing mismatched socks and pretending to be ambidextrous.
Sensiblyscript

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One thought on “Charles Dickens’ Black Tea Blend by Simpson & Vail

  1. This does sound like an interesting blend. I may want to try it for myself for I always wondered what a Charles Dickens-inspired blend would taste like. Here is a fun question: can you see yourself drinking this tea with one Dickens’ novels?

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