The Energy for Word Craft – James Joyce Tea Blend by Simpson and Vail. . . .

From day to day we find ourselves taxed with work, school, and the other things that make our life worthwhile. And when we try to sit down to pursue our hobbies, may it be writing, reading, or any other creative venture we find ourselves creatively drained. We either stare at a blank page or a room that holds our craft that refuses to give us the needed inspiration to fuel our venture.

This, my friends, is where I have found myself a lot this month. Balancing school and my desire to put the story, that I have been holding on to for ages, onto paper seems to be a momentous task. But that is where tea comes in.

To be specific James Joyce’s Tea Blend by Simpson & Vail gave me the needed boost to finally put something down on paper. Now, this is tea not alike the others I have tried for this tea is very simple in nature. This cuppa is like Irish/English Breakfast and as a matter of fact, it tastes like a blend of those two. It has that perfect maltiness that I have come to love in Irish Breakfast with a little bit of the robustness that English Breakfast has to offer.

The price of this tea won’t hurt your wallet either for you can get either a 4 oz package for $6.90 whereas if you want the decorative 4 oz tin that will be about $3 extra at $9.75.

Even though this tea didn’t have anything new or different added to the blend I still appreciate it. Drinking this blend brought me back to the days when I first tried hot tea. Calling this tea simple is not negative in this case for a simple cup of tea could be the only thing you need to get you back on track.

See you for the next cuppa!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail

James Joyce was born February 2, 1882 in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. He attended a private boarding school until his father’s debts caught up with the family and he and his siblings were forced to leave. He would later attend college and, while he achieved high marks, his views never aligned with the Jesuit professors. A collection of his short stories, The Dubliners, was published in 1914 and introduced Joyce’s dense and atmospheric prose to the world. He would go on to travel Europe, spending most of his productive years in France, where Ulysses was published in 1922. Joyce’s influence continues into the 21st century where his method of conveying the complexity and chaos of random thought as a stream of consciousness is still in use.

For Joyce, tea was an expected part of life and it appears in his works as a routine part of the day. As a man of taste, he enjoyed the finer things in life and, as an article describing a meeting at his house says, “Mrs. Joyce gives us the best tea and the nicest cakes that are to be had in any house in Paris.” Our James Joyce tea blend uses a distinctly Irish mix of black teas to mimic the type of drink he and his friends would have enjoyed.

This delightfully bold blend of teas brews to a golden cup with a malty flavor and a slightly fruity aftertaste.

Ingredients: Black teas from India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Wild Style Black Tea from Old Ways Tea. . . .

A telltale nagging in my throat tells me a cold is underway. So I needed the toughest, most bracing tea out there.


You know, a RUGGED, BUTCH, RICH tea that’ll sharply inform my immune system HOW IT IS DONE. No mix-ins. Just the STRAIGHT-UP REAL DEAL. The sort of situation that calls for the CAPS LOCK BUTTON

This tea has a thick and smooth flavor. It’s manly, but in a calming, non-smoky way. It tastes like berries, and growth, and getting a tan. It tastes like soil in softening in preparation for spring. It tastes like a cute man in leather winking at you. It tastes like a winding car ride on perfectly paved road.

It tastes like a glorious warrior defeating a sniveling cold.

I hope.

Fingers crossed.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Old Ways Tea

This wild style black tea is from high mountains above Tongmu village located in the Wuyishan Biodiversity Protection area. A strong but clean floral fragrance is present. The tea is described as wild style due to the conditions in which the trees are allowed to grow. The trees are by no means wild, they are still intentionally grown from known cultivars, but are spaced more widely and allowed to grow more how they please. They are not forced into the neat rows that make cutting more efficient.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Have a Sweeter Breakfast Blend with Aso Black from Mellow Monk

Aso Black from Mellow Monk is technically a black tea but it is processed a little differently that most black teas.  If I understood their description correctly, Aso Black tea is made from the tea leaves that would normally go into making sencha green tea.  Picked in the mountains of Japan, these leaves are less processed and less fermented than traditional black tea.  Aso Black is also called “kocha” or “crimson tea”, perhaps due to its medium level of oxidation.  But I digress.

The leaves in my sample were small and flat, though very dark in color.  As it brewed, the tea smelled distinctly starchy like oats or bread.  It had none of the citrus brightness I associate with other black teas.

Mellow Monk recommends letting this tea cool slightly before drinking to let the flavors come forward, so I stepped away from my cup to let it cool down.

When I took my first sip of the tea, I was once again hit with the starchiness of the flavors, though this time it also had quite a bit of sweetness.  In an abstract way, the tea reminded me of oatmeal raisin cookies if they could be turned into a breakfast tea.

In the aftertaste there is a vegetal note that I expect more often from green teas.  It reminds me of the sweet and sour fermented green tea note that I often taste in kukicha green.  With all the sweetness and smooth mouthfeel of the rest of the blend, the green tea aftertaste is less grassy and more fruity, complimenting the sweet oat flavors in the overall smell and taste.

This is a unique tea, worth a taste by black tea and green tea lovers alike.  If you are tired of ceylon’s sharpness, or assam’s full fuzziness, try Aso Black for your next breakfast blend and maybe you’ll find it makes for a sweeter morning.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black and Green
Where to Buy: Mellow Monk

How about a nice change of pace? Aso Black™ is black tea (kocha, or “crimson tea” in Japanese) made from the leaves of green tea varietals grown in the pristine foothills of Mt. Aso. Gently harvested leaves are only lightly fermented compared to conventional black tea, for a sweetness not found in ordinary black teas.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

1st Place Tea: Snowflake from Aromatica Fine Teas

Depending on where you live, you may have seen some snowflakes flying on the air this time of year, which would be the perfect time to brew up a cup of Snowflake tea from Aromatica Fine Teas.

This is an award-winning blend, taking 1st place in the North American Tea Championships in 2011.  Thinking about tea championships puts some silly images in my head, like some kind of tea Olympics, with little packs of tea on a snowy downhill ski slope.  Anyway, the story is getting away from me.

Like beautiful, white, creamy snowdrifts, this black tea is blanketed with extra vanilla and creamy flavors.  This tea is somewhere between a breakfast blend and a dessert blend, so that means it can be brewed up just about any time of day.  In addition to the vanilla, there are coconut flakes, which add their usual creamy, buttery taste. Luckily there’s not too much coconut, and this moderation keeps the brew from getting too oily.

What really sets this blend apart are the real slivers of almond.  These stylish blonde slivers go beyond the typical marzipan flavoring, and add real, sweet, nuttiness from actual nuts as ingredients.  With smooth almond and lush coconut shavings, this tea taste a bit more like a coconut cookie than a simple coconut cream tea.

Overall, Snowflake is a really solid vanilla tea blend, super drinkable and smooth.  I drank it black, but it would amazing as a latte or made hot-cocoa-style, topped with marshmallows.  The blend isn’t too sweet, nor too plain.

I know coconut is traditionally a tropical flavor, but with a name like Snowflake, this can be your next favorite winter brew.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Aromatica Fine Teas

A fabulous almond coconut tea. Brew it in steamed milk for a Tropical Fog. Ceylon and China black tea, coconut rasps, flavour, almond flakes.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Oaks SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL 2nd Flush 2016 Darjeeling Organic from Lochan Tea Limited

I steeped this tea for about 3 min at 212 with almost 2tsp and 1 cup water. I couldn’t find the product on the company’s website, so I just guesstimated the steeping specs. Which is always fun. I prefer to use the recommended specs if possible, in order to give the tea a chance to put its best foot forward (as it were), but I’m also fine with just doing whatever seems to work if there aren’t any recommendations.

The water started turning amber pretty quickly after I put the leaves in to steep. I used a generous amount of leaf due to not knowing the specs; probably a heaping teaspoon would have been sufficient, but of course that’s all up to personal preference. The leaves seemed to be chopped pretty small, but they’re not crushed into dust or anything. The fragrance was a bit malty and flowery while steeping, but also a bit astringent.

After steeping, the tea was a warm golden-brown color, transparent enough to see a stray leaf at the bottom of the cup. It smelled very inviting. Once I tasted it, though, I decided I’d steeped it a bit strong. The astringency was prominent, although fortunately the tea wasn’t bitter at all (despite using boiling water). The flavor wasn’t as malty as I expected, but there were still floral notes especially at the end of the sip. It’s a solid black tea, especially astringent but also somewhat sweet.

With sugar, the astringency is wonderfully mellowed and the floral notes emerge a bit more–I’d definitely recommend this. With milk added, I love it even more. (But what did you expect? I always do.) I’d consider this a great breakfast tea, and steeping it strongly is a good plan if you’re going to add sugar and milk, otherwise I’d recommend steeping it not quite so long (maybe 2 minutes?).

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black/Darjeeling
Where to Buy:  Lochan Tea Limited

This tea is no longer on the website but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!