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

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!

Honey Pear Tea by Nelson’s Tea

Following steeping recommendations, I steeped 1 tsp of this with about a cup of water at approximately 195-200 degrees F for 3 minutes.

My first thought was that this tea smells like bee pollen, although I don’t actually have all that much experience with bee pollen, lol. But when I looked up the ingredients I discovered that bee pollen is actually one of them so I guess I was right!

It steeps up a nice golden/amber color, but interestingly cloudy. Instead of a clear amber like many teas are, it had lots of tiny specks like golden dust floating around in the depths. (That would be from the bee pollen, I guess. It’s a great special effect.) The fragrance is probably also courtesy of the bee pollen, so if you know what that smells like, just imagine that. At any rate, it doesn’t smell much like black tea when steeped (or before steeping either).

The first taste is mostly of pollen-ish honey flavor. It’s got a hint of pear but not a lot of conventional “fruity” taste. It doesn’t taste overly sweet either; I mean, it’s a bit sweet but not as sweet as I expected from something honey-flavored. It also doesn’t have an overpowering black-tea flavor.

After trying it plain I added sugar, about a teaspoon, and now it’s way too sweet for my taste. It definitely tastes of honey rather than sugar though, which is interesting given that I just put a bunch of sugar in. So then I added some milk to balance it back out again and now I’m finally catching a hint of the “black tea” flavor; still, though, it mostly just tastes of warm honey-milk and a slight fruity depth from the pear (which is quite nice but not very conspicuous; you don’t really notice it unless you’re trying).  It’s very warm and comforting and great for rainy afternoons.

So I’d say overall my impression of this tea is that it’s quite subtle (other than the cool dissolving-pollen bit). There’s a lot to appreciate if you’re willing to take your time with it. I’m thinking of steeping it up more strongly next time to see if I like it better that way or not.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Nelson’s Tea

Just like biting into a sweet, succulent pear, this tea is sure to please.  Enjoy it hot or iced!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Firebird Chai by Wendigo

While sniffing this tea before steeping (what? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this) I can definitely pick up a big whiff of ginger in the dry leaves. The leaves are better-looking than average for chai; they also have more of a presence in the blend (as far as fragrance and so on) than some do. I also observed lots of chunks of other stuff (spices?) in there with the tea leaves. The curls of dried ginger were the most noticeable of these. (And also were quite impressive. Don’t most chais just have minced ginger or something? These curls were really cool-looking.)

When steeping, I used a couple of generous spoonfuls for my latte mug and hot water that I poured out just after boiling. I may have been a bit over-lavish with the leaves compared to what the steeping instructions said, but I was feeling like drinking a strong chai. I steeped it four minutes before removing the leaves. The rehydrated pods (I think that’s the cardamom?) and curls of ginger were much more obvious in the tea leaves now. The brewed tea turned out a strongish darkish brown (but not the darkest ever).
Now that the finished product is in hand, I can actually smell the black tea along with the spices. This isn’t always the case with chai, so I appreciated it. Ginger seems the predominant spice (rather than cinnamon) upon first sip. Each sip has a sweet, smooth taste (despite not having any sugar in it yet) and a warming effect.
Certainly it’s exotic as well as pleasant and comforting, with all that ginger and cardamom, and manages to carve a unique flavor profile for itself rather than just being a run-of-the-mill “chai” flavor. I’m unsure where the sweetness is coming from–surely not the ginger or the cinnamon– but I suppose it could be from the black tea itself if it’s as high-quality as it seems.
Overall I’d say this tea is lively, warming, and full and rich without  being cliche. It offers a bright flavor palette that’s not too spicy to enjoy. It’s great with milk and sugar too; they “muffle” the spices a bit, as expected, and enhance the richness of the black tea flavor.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Wendigo Tea


I, the glorious FireBird, am an imposing beast with the exotic complexity to guide you through a wild adventure of savory, sweet, spicy, and back again. Brace yourself if you think you are ready to experience the wonder of FireBird. I am a Spicy Masala Chai that leaves scorched remnants of other Chai teas far below my ferocious wings.
I am born of the meanest Indian Estate black tea available, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, black pepper & all spice. Where other Chai teas expect you to add milk and heaps of sweetener to balance the bitter taste of inferior ingredients, I stand alone as a unique masterpiece.
My elevated nature is most notable from the refusal of being satisfied with anything but the very best and strongest tasting Premium Indian Estate Tea available. This compliments the spices and will not dare be buried under them, but earthy decadence soaring ahead for the lingering trail of spice and flavor following on your pallet.
Feel the Burn. Love the taste.


Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Bates’ Brambleberry Black Tea from The Republic of Tea

In addition to being a fandom tea that I’m sure everyone who watches Downton Abbey will love, this tea has a wonderful flavor and is an awesome eco-friendly offering from the Republic of Tea. It comes in a round unbleached tea bag with no strings, staples or tags, and can be composted after you use it. It looks insubstantial enough that you could even throw it in your own non-industrial-strength compost pile (I understand some municipalities have compost pickup along with trash and recycling pickup, but mine is not that lucky so I do my own composting).

It smells excellently of berry, so I greatly enjoyed the fragrance as it steeped. I steeped it about five minutes using boiling water and it turned out reddish-brown with that very pleasing fragrance and a wonderful refreshing berry taste. It does, as advertised, remind me of summer and berry-picking. It’s called “brambleberry” so I would have expected mostly blackberry flavor (because those are the type of berry that people call brambles in England, right?), but there’s definitely a serendipitous raspberry tinge in there as well. The tea information says that it also has strawberry and blueberry flavors, but I found those to be less obvious than the raspberry and blackberry flavors.

considered adding milk but then decided against it. I don’t think this tea is acidic enough to actually curdle the milk (although I could be wrong), but it’s definitely acidic enough to be interesting and I don’t want to dull that edge, which milk is likely to do.

 I only had one teabag in my sample, so I was unable to try it both hot and iced, but I’m convinced that it would be really great iced as well. In fact, icing it would probably bring out the summery berry flavors even more. And cold steeping is another great idea, one I also didn’t try but do encourage others to experiment with.


Overall I really enjoyed this tea and wished I had more of it! I’ll definitely consider purchasing it if I ever get around to ordering from The Republic of Tea while they still carry it. (So many tea companies, so little time!)

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:
Where to Buy: Republic of Tea


This bold yet smooth premium black tea is perfectly coupled with a handful of summer fruit – blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. A touch of sweetness to this cup will bring out the full, ripe flavor. A casual refreshment served hot or over ice with biscuits or sandwiches.

The award-winning TV series, Downton Abbey® has entranced millions of viewers and become a modern media sensation. Every episode is an explosion of drama, relationships and intrigue. Downton Abbey is home to the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. From the pen of Academy Award® winner Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is the most watched drama ever on PBS!

This tea is an online exclusive

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

#FanaticFriday: Hufflepuff House Blend from The Forest Witch

I’m going to get all ‘Harry Potter on your arses” today and to do that I would like to introduce you to Hufflepuff House Blend from The Forest Witch.  It’s the tea I’m featuring during #FanaticFriday here at Sororitea Sisters!

In our home we currently have 4 furkids…3 dogs and a cat.  Hubby and I have jokingly said in the past that Paco our full Chihuahua would probably resided in Hufflepuff while Charlie our feral cat would set up shop in Slytherin.  Riley – our Corgi/Lab mix would most likely fit in with Griffindor.  Finally, Cricket, our Chihuahua/Toy Rat Terrier would side with those in Ravenclaw.  Yes…I’m really that nerdy, folks!  I’m glad I’m not the only one and I’m glad there are fan teas out there including Hufflepuff House Blend from The Forest Witch.

What I’m not completely clear on are the ingredients in this honeybush tea.  While I am to eat vegan I am sure there are things that slip through the cracks.  If I know something is not vegan I will not consume it.  I saw on the Etsy Shop that the ingredients of this offering were: Honeybush, Lemon and orange pieces, calendula petals, essences of cake and warm icing which I assume are flavorings because I didn’t see actual cake/bread/icing in the loose mix.  Fingers crossed and if it was my error I’m truly sorry!  What I can tell you is that Hufflepuff House Blend from The Forest Witch was pretty tasty and I think House Hufflepuff would be proud!  I could see myself sitting in the basement near the fire sipping on this for sure!

The flavors of orange, lemon, and honeybush are first and foremost in this flavor on the tongue.  There is a sweet yet smooth consistency to the sip.  I’m sipping on Hufflepuff House Blend from The Forest Witch hot but also letting it cool at room temperature as I sip and I can already tell that it would be outstanding as an iced tea, as well!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Honeybush
Where to Buy: The Forest Witch

A perfect, sunny tea to cheer you up! Enjoy by a warm fireplace in the Hufflepuff common room as birds flit by outside the windows and open door to the school grounds.

Three citrus fruits flavour delicious, spongy cake with a delectable, buttery icing.
Honeybush tea mixed with lemon and orange pieces, calendula petals for a pop of sunny colour. Essences of cake and warm icing swirl in this tasty cup to bring you a lovely cup of dessert.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!