Go to Wonderland with a cup of Lewis Carroll tea from Simpson and Vail.. . .

Springtime feels like the time for Alice in Wonderland: flowers blooming, spending more time outside, feeling a little more whimsy after the winter blues.  I’ve seen a few new teas popping up this time of year, themed for just such an occasion.

I recently tried the Lewis Carroll blend of black tea from Simpson and Vail.  In case you don’t know, Lewis Carroll is the author of Alice in Wonderland, among other works.  Alice in Wonderland tends to be a favorite among tea fans for the famous tea party scene featuring the Mad Hatter, not to mention all the cute tea cakes that wreak fantastical havoc for Alice’s adventures.

This Lewis Carroll tea blend features an Indian black tea base, combined with Chinese Rose Congou black tea, highlighted by added violet fragrance and flavoring.  All these flowers are meant to put us in a fantasy world, whether in the queen’s roses, or in the garden beside the tea party.  There are lots of blossoms in the dry leaves, and the brewed cup smells as sweet as a blooming garden.

I enjoy the fragrance of this tea, but strong floral blends aren’t my personal favorite when it comes to taste.  I found I enjoyed the tea more with a touch of milk and sugar, which helped mellow out the strong floral flavors and made the brew more like a flower-scented dessert.

This is a great tea to put you in a springtime mood, perhaps sipped while out-of-doors after a dreary winter.  If you’re one for having fancy tea parties, this may also be a great choice, whether it fits your Alice in Wonderland theme, or just because it feels fancy and ladylike, and makes the flowers on your teacup smell like they are alive and fresh!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Simpson and Vail

A tea party plays a memorable role in Carroll’s most celebrated novel as the setting for Alice’s nonsensical meeting with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. “A large rose-tree stood near the entrance of the garden” where, as the Mad Hatter told Alice earlier, “it’s always tea time.” To make our Lewis Carroll blend, we added our fragrant violet flavor to an Indian Black tea and Rose Congou tea, a China black that has been scented with rose petals during the drying process, to create a deep amber cup with an incomparable bouquet and a flavor that is absolutely heavenly.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Unlock your Inner Romantic with Rose Garden Pu Erh from Tocha Tea

Rose Garden Pu Erh from Tocha Tea looks the part right off the bat, with deep, pink rose petals and dark tea tied up neatly in a silk teabag. The dry tea smells strongly of roses, so strongly, the scent verges into being a bit like floral-scented soap.

With the heavy rose smell and the pu erh base, I kept the steep times and temperatures a little lower than the package recommended, brewing for 1 minute at about 195 degrees Fahrenheit, to keep the flavors from getting too saturated.

When brewed, the rose overtones are still the most forward flavor, but there is an added depth from the musky tones of the pu erh tea.  This earthiness is a pleasing presence, fleshing out the “garden party” theme.

With the romantic and delicate nature of roses, it makes sense that this is blended with pu erh tea instead of black tea. Black teas have a more astringent bite, while pu erh is smoother and creamier, and this gentler mouthfeel is noticeable.

At first, I wasn’t sold on the rose and pu erh combination from the description alone, but this brew turned out to be lovely. Rose Garden Pu Erh would be perfect with a Beauty and the Beast theme, using the rose petals and earthy pu erh, as stand-ins for Belle and Beast. I say, keep track of your brew times and temperature, and this tea can unlock even your toughest enchantments.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Tocha Tea

For centuries, pu-erh tea has been treasured for its elegant flavor and health benefits. The unique natural fermentation process gives it an earthy, woodsy essence that is never bitter, even after a long steep. Rose petals add a graceful note to this delicious and versatile blend, a wonderful tea for everyday wellness.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Doke Black Fusion from Lochan Tea

User comments

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Lochan Tea

Tea Description:

Doke Black Fusion

Invoice Number: DB 001

Season: 1st Flush 2015

Grade: Hand made Black Tea

Cultivar: TV22 plucked from the 4A section

Location: Bihar, India

Size: 6 kilos

This tea comes from a small producer in Bihar, south of Darjeeling. The flat tea garden, next to a river (a power plant outlet), is everything else than the almost eponymous “Darjeeling Himalayan vales” – and yet it can already rival with some of the finest Darjeelings. What is unique however, is that the leaf material is Assamese and indeed embodies their virtues without their climate. Not without reason, the Lochan family have baptized some of their teas with the “Fusion” moniker.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

It is with thanks to the Lochan Tea family that I have been sent this sample to review. I did not know that the Lochan Tea founder Rajiv Lochan was responsible for starting up Doke Farm, one of my favourite sources for Indian Tea. It was Butiki Teas that got me into Doke through the likes of Doke Rolling Thunder and Doke Silver Needle. Needless to say that makes me rather excited and honoured to be sent this directly from source to review.

In-front of me is a 10g sample which is factory sealed and clearly labelled with tea company name, tea type/name, flush info and growing region and also the date it was packed. A nice little touch and easy to read/see what the packets are. Also the packets are black and non see through which I like as it protects the tea from the sun/light.

In raw form the leaves are: long, thinly rolled and curly. Dark brown colour in appearance. They hare a dry wood and sweet cocoa scent.

Steeping Info: 
Method: Gongfu glass teapot – 200ml
Water: Boiling
Infusions: Three – 1m, 2m,3m.

First Steep – 1 minute

Tea is  light golden brown with a red/orange hue and bares sweet wood and sour malt scent, albeit of a subtle and pure nature.

In flavour this starts with light and soft, sweet wood notes before increasing in strength and becoming sour with malt and cocoa, put together with a sweet fruit after taste of dried fig with honey. A combination that worked very well together and each sip was as good as the first.

Second Steep – 2 minutes 

This steep remains mild and pure in flavour but there is a definite increase in the dried fig flavour. Also the difference between the sweet wood and sour malt has now combined as one. Some dryness in the after taste which put together with dried fig and honey has a rather nutty finish. No bitterness at all.

Third Steep – 3 minutes 

Wonderful balance of flavours remain despite this being the third steep. It is less sweet and there is some astringency now but still mild on the scale. Thicker malt tones and less wood but the dried fig after taste remains.

Fourth Steep – 4 minutes (A surprise steep) 

There is enough flavour left in my opinion for another steep, this doesn’t happen many times which is why this wasn’t planned.

The final steep is lighter than the first but was worth going that bit extra for. All that remains is a dry and delicate wooden flavour.


Mentioning I was a Doke fan from what I had previously tried I’m happy to say this lives up to my expectations. This has such beautiful flavours that were very clean tasting and pure, and it had a wonderful array of different notes that combined together very well. On the mild side for a black tea in strength to begin with which plays with the traditional Indian black tea vibe and makes this rather ‘different’ and ‘special’. I particularly liked the honey and fruit notes in the after taste.

Thank you very much Lochan Tea for this beautiful tea sample, I know I will be keeping an eye on this tea for when my cupboard runs low.

Until next time, Happy Steeping!

Assam 1860 Bagged Tea

Assam1860Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Assam 1860

Tea Description:

We’ve been growing tea for more than 150 years. That’s right, 150 years of experience and expertise that goes into making a cup of tea with pedigree. And it tastes delicious.

Assam 1860 is a black tea that celebrates tea itself. It is made only from leaves plucked in the picturesque Thowra Estate, a chai bagan set up in 1860. We ensure that the phrase ‘garden fresh’ lives up to its every promise.

The leaves are plucked, processed and packed in the estate itself, ensuring quality and freshness that is unparalleled. So wherever you are, you might as well be drinking your cup of Assam 1860 on the verdant verandah of the Thowra Bungalow, overlooking graceful rolling greens on our lush terraces.

We can’t wait for you to try our new offering. The plucking of tea leaves has begun in earnest!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I sometimes wonder how serious tea purveyors take their packaging choices.  Tea drinkers are truly an aesthetic bunch of people….the ritual of tea practically begs you to be appreciative of ALL aspects of the tea that will be filling your cup next, including the packaging.  What makes us reach for a certain box of unexplored tea is arbitrary….a certain animal on the logo, a color of font… it’s a science somewhere, I’m sure, but for me, it makes a huge difference in where my eye travels to.

I would have bought this tea.

Assam1860 has a very clean visual aesthetic, with it’s white and green on black modern approach to visual marketing, the tag line “Tea As It Should Be” and the catchphrase “Still Plucking”.  It looks not like the older packaging from the well-established Assam tea plantations…it looks like something NEW.  And we all love to try something new!

The tea bag is also modern looking, with whip-stitching around the edges and a good portion of CTC assam waiting inside.  Again, aesthetically pleasing and already making my tea experience enjoyable!

In the cup, Assam1860 is dark amber and smells of malt with a touch of citrus.  A 2.5 minute steep brings a lovely malt flavor that Assams are known for.  This is not a powdery CTC but a true CTC that gives a well-rounded mouthfeel with a touch of astringency.  This tea would be a wonderful “toss in your purse/pocket” to replace the usual suspect teas at your favorite restaurant. Bold, but not overwhelming, Assam1860 is a solid citizen in the Assam world.  If you are a fan of hearty black teas, this tea is a good bet. Quite honestly as the packaging says, “Tea As It Should Be”.

Organic Arya Diamond Second Flush Darjeeling Tea from Canton Tea Co.

arya_diamond_darjeeling_black_teaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Canton Tea Co.

Tea Description:

One of the Arya Estate’s acclaimed ‘Jewel’ teas. The Diamond delivers the bright, beautifully balanced muscatel flavours of one of the most sought after teas in the world. The dark, twisted tea leaves have streaks of gold and fuzzy silver tips. When infused, the tea is smooth and rounded with a long, sweet aftertaste that evokes dried fruits and nuts.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I received a sample of this Organic Arya Diamond Second Flush Darjeeling Tea from Canton Tea Co., I knew I was in for a treat.  I have been very impressed with the quality of teas that I’ve tried thus far from the Arya estate, in fact, I might go so far as to say that they’re one of my very favorite Darjeeling estates.

So, I had high expectations going into this tea and it did not let me down!  This is excellent!

As I’ve said on more than one occasion, second flush are my favorite when it comes to Darjeeling.  I love that muscatel flavor from the second flush and that’s something that you don’t often find (occasionally you do but it’s rare) in a first flush.

This is nice and smooth.  It has a nicely round flavor.  The muscatel notes are sweet and grape-like.  The finish is smooth with very little astringency.  The aftertaste is sweet and fruity.  The above description suggested a nut-like flavor, but I didn’t really get anything that tasted nutty to me.  Instead, I just got a really enjoyable fruit taste that reminded me a bit of a sweet wine.  The cup disappeared before I could finish the review!  That’s always a sign to me that the tea is seriously good!