Emily Dickinson’s Jasmine Tea Blend from Simpson and Vail. . .

I think it must be very rare to meet a tea lover who is not also a book lover. The Simpson and Vail Literary Blends are an incredible way to celebrate both of our passions – drinking tea and reading. Good books are always better with tea!

This blend is inspired by the flowers Emily loved to grow. The base is listed as jasmine tea, and my best guess is that this is a pouchong. There are jasmine flowers, rose petals, marigold petals, and blue cornflowers as well, making an absolutely stunning presentation. This is a tea that needs to be displayed on the table in a tea scoop or in a little glass before steeping, because it makes a beautiful display to begin your tea time, and shouldn’t tea time engage all of your senses? Your eyes will feast on this one!

The steeped tea is a medium gold color. It is a smooth and lightly brisk tea, which is very fitting for Miss Dickinson. The floral taste is surprisingly light. This isn’t a heavy jasmine and rose blend, but rather a confident green base with light floral notes sweetening it.

“Bring me the sunset in a cup.” Yes, thank you. This is lovely and comfortable with hubby and daughters sipping away and draining the pot as we wind down for the night.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Simpson and Vail
Description

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10th, 1830 and lived in a home that was central to Amherst political society thanks to her father and brothers. Growing up around powerful men prepared Dickinson for a life of the same, but society dictated that, as a woman, she was relegated to seemingly less meaningful ventures. Her anger at this slight comes across in her poetry and letters where she explored complex ideas of meaning and self while examining the smallest details of the world around her. She withdrew herself from society and lived in relative solitude until her death. Only a few of her poems were made public during her lifetime, but four years after her demise, a collection of poems was published and met with popular and critical acclaim. Her poems reveal a complicated mind that examined itself with as much attention to detail as it examined the world. Dickinson’s defiance of categorization and simplification make her a popular poet to study even today.

In the years she spent away from society, Emily Dickinson cultivated an extensive garden. In it, she grew jasmine flowers, cornflowers, roses, and many other flowers, plants and herbs. These flowers appear repeatedly in her poetry so our blend had to be floral. We created a delightful combination of jasmine tea and rose petals that brews to a light ecru cup with long green leaves and rose petal accents. This delicate tea hits you with a strong jasmine taste that’s sweetened and mellowed with the subtle flavors of the rose petals.

Ingredients: Jasmine tea, rose petals, jasmine blossoms, marigold petals and blue cornflower petals.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Anything but Basic – Louisa May Alcott from Simpson and Vail

There is nothing better than sharing a hot cuppa with hot ladies. Wait, did that came out wrong? I mean strong, independent, educated ladies. Yeah, that’s who I’d have tea parties with! So, I invited two amazing students from my “Women’s Contributions to Science” class for a tea party. And, what better tea to drink than one inspired by the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott.

Simpson and Vail created fandom teas for several authors, and this green blend has a soft spice scent with the dried apple bits – is it nutmeg that it reminds us of? Pine? As we brew up this pumpkin pie colored treat, we bring up recent TED talks, STEM, swiping right… Hey, just because we love Autumn doesn’t make us totally basic! And neither is this literary tea – it’s good for multiple infusions and it builds flavor as you drink it. There is a midweight mouthfeel, and a certain sweetness from the Rose that lingers into the aftertaste.

It’s a heartwarming blend, and we have high spirits for the coming equinox, including brainstorming for Halloween costumes. If our Louisa May tea was alive today, we picture her costumed as T.Swift in a flannel, and this tea is the perfect embodiment of that.  Now if you’ll pardon me, I’ve been inspired to go crochet a scarf for some eligible but aloof bachelor.


 

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy:   Simpson & Vail
Description:

Early in Little Women, while visiting a sick Laurie, Jo says that her sister Meg’s blancmange is made “very nicely.” Later, her own attempt turns out “lumpy” and accompanied by strawberries that were “not as ripe as they looked.” Our blend follows Meg’s example and is almost, as Laurie says, “too pretty to [drink].” Combining almond and strawberry flavors, this blend brews to a delicious tea that is fruity and aromatic. It manages to be both sweet and light thanks to the Chunmee green tea base and the gentle floral notes added by the rose petals.

Ingredients: Green tea, apple pieces, flavoring, strawberry pieces and rose petals.

Certified Kosher

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Louisa May Alcott from Simpson and Vail. . .

I was devastated to find out that I’d missed out on Starbucks’ Free Tea Friday. My body melted into the floor. I had to be picked out of the carpet and reassembled.

Then I remembered that I had some samples left. (YAAAASSS.) Lo and behold, this Simpson & Vail blend was batting its eyelashes at me.

“Hello,” Louisa May Alcott purred. “I am a light flowery green berry thing, and would probably be the bomb if you iced me.”

“You aren’t free,” I whispered, dabbing a tear from my eye.

“I am,” the tea said. “You get a lot of free samples from the SororiTea Sisters in exchange for reviews.”

“But… I have to, like, get the steeper, and make sure there’s ice,” I whined.

“Ugh, come on,” the tea said. “You don’t even need to boil the water. It comes out of your work’s water cooler’s hot side.”

I finally submitted to the tea’s taunts, and I’m very glad I did!

This tea does a lot of things very well that I’m often on the fence about:

1) Rose petals. Sometimes there are too many and the tea tastes like soap. These petals, on the other hand, are blended with a light hand.

2) A little bit of tartness. JUST A LITTLE. I need everything in my life to taste light and candylike. (My wines. My teas. Even my beers need to be light wheat-plus-fruit offerings.) The tartness here comes from the green tea, and it totally works.

3) Strawberries. This blend uses ACTUAL strawberries, not the fake mix-in stuff. This makes a big difference. It’s the difference between a juicy, authentic taste and a face-smack of Stevia.

4) Apples. They sweeten this blend up and go with its fruit-fiesta theme. Sometimes I wonder what apples are doing in a blend. They seem like a thing most tea-makers have in the cupboard and gleefully toss in there, crying, “WHY THE HECK NOT?”

My general thought here is: yum. This is a great iced tea. My sample is pretty big, so I think I’ll continue to give into its cajoling ways.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Simpson and Vail

Description

Early in Little Women, while visiting a sick Laurie, Jo says that her sister Meg’s blancmange is made “very nicely.” Later, her own attempt turns out “lumpy” and accompanied by strawberries that were “not as ripe as they looked.” Our blend follows Meg’s example and is almost, as Laurie says, “too pretty to [drink].” Combining almond and strawberry flavors, this blend brews to a delicious tea that is fruity and aromatic. It manages to be both sweet and light thanks to the Chunmee green tea base and the gentle floral notes added by the rose petals.

Ingredients: Green tea, apple pieces, flavoring, strawberry pieces and rose peta

 

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pride and Prejudice from First Edition Tea Co. . . .

Mate and pu’erh are the two types of teas that I usually try to avoid. Mate tastes like the rainforst and pu’erh tastes like mud (well what I would expect those thing to taste like since I have never actually tried those). Either way both taste like dirt to me and life is too short and there are too many teas out there to drink something you don’t enjoy. So, this Pride and Prejudice tea, a citrus and roasted mate herbal tea was not one I was jumping at the chance to try.

My anxiety was relieved a little when I opened the package to see more fruit pieces and petals than actual mate so I got to brewing up a hot cup of pride and prejudice.

It brews up the deep reddish-pink of a tea filled with hibiscus and rosehips. The hibiscus and rosehips also comes through in taste in light of the tartness. Hibiscus and orange. A juicy orange which gives way to the mate earthiness. Not as pungent as other teas I have tried in the past, but still too present for my personal tastes.

This is a fruity tea, more earthy/ natural than sweet like many others. Though this is not likely to become a favorite of mine, it was better than I expected since the mate is balanced by the other flavors in the tea. I will be passing the rest on to my sisters. We’ll see if this is more to their tastes than it was mine.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Yerba Mate
Where to Buy:  First Edition Tea Co.
Description

The herbal blend looks beautiful, but it’s got a thrilling bite to it. A sweet and fruity blend with a kick of tangy citrus and energizing roasted mate. A tea that will bewitch you, body and soul. Perfect for making iced tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Edgar Allan Poe Black from Simpson and Vail. . . .

My first thought about this brew was “WHO DIED?!”

As you’re steeping, your cup’s contents very swiftly become a really disturbing dark red/black/maroon color.

Which is, of course, SO fitting for an Edgar Allan Poe blend. You’re launched headfirst into a vat of the macabre. If someone asked you what you were drinking, you could deadpan “the blood of my enemies.” IT WOULD LOOK LIKE YOU WERE RIGHT.

The flavor is tart, earthy, smoky, and rich rich rich (yes, I typed it thrice). It’s a blend of black and pu’erh with bergamot and beetroot. I couldn’t pick up any of the bergamot in my spoonful, but such is the Luck of the Flavored Tea Lotto.

I think that the smoky lapsang is the star of the show. If you want to go into a smoking parlor to torment yourself over your writing, this is the perfect thing. You can sip it between smashings on your keyboard or dips into your ink.

This isn’t a good tea for writing on your computer, unfortunately. If I were really a Method Writer, I would have written this out longhand with a dip pen. Then scanned it. And posted it as a series of .jpegs. Part of me wants to transcribe this RIGHT NOW. It’s NOT TOO LATE

Except I’m lazy, and plus, this is easier for you to read and enjoy anyway.

~Eternally yours in gothiness,

Super Starling!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Simpson and Vail
Description

This dark, earthy blend evokes the damp tombs of Poe’s stories. While it is perhaps the most well known, The Cask of Amontillado is not Poe’s only story in which his fear of being buried alive becomes a major plot point. His vivid descriptions of “utter darkness among a quantity of loose earth” that “threaten[ed] to bury [him] entirely” offered a direction for our blend. It combines the earthy tones of Pu­erh black with the mellow smokiness of Lapsang and the slightest citrus hint of an Earl Grey. The dried beetroot turns the brewed tea a deep blood red.

Ingredients: Black teas, pu­erh tea, lapsang souchong tea, beetroot and bergamot oil.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!