This week was a rough one. The Viking and I got two solid pieces of miserable news, one of the Grandma Really Isn’t Doing Well variety and the other of the Just When You Thought Shit Was Under Control variety. Just before the bad newses I placed an order for tea from Simpson & Vail, promptly forgot about it and then was pleased and surprised when it arrived yesterday. Because some days you have to plan a Hobbit tea party for yourself if you are expected to remain sane.
I knew about Simpson & Vail from many years ago when we stocked them at a cafe I worked at. I forgot about them entirely until I was reading a copy of Martha Stewart Living Magazine (SHUT IT) and they mentioned that S&V sold teas in as little as 1-ounce units. I totally made some kind of “B’GOK!” chicken noise, because I never buy tea because I don’t want like 40 billion pounds of it. But an ounce is the perfect amount of tea – maybe 20 cups? Less? Enough that I’ll actually use it up.
First, though, and just to be totally confusing, I wanted to get two non-tea tisanes, which aren’t sold in units smaller than 4oz. Still, I’ve been stuck drinking Celestial Seasonings “Tension Tamer” tisane at night (which The Viking calls “Temper Tantrum”) and I’m officially over it.
Like all of their teas, the “Moonlight in the Garden” tisane is breathtakingly photogenic, as beautiful an apothecarian potpourri as you can hope for:
It is alfalfa, malva¹ flowers, cornflowers and violet and vanilla flavors. Every single tea you’ll want to take to an interior designer and say “Make my house look like this,” but the “Moonlight in the Garden” combo of deep violet and pale green is at the top of the list. For me. Am I discussing interior design? Forgive me, I’m not myself today.
Then I got the embarrassingly named “Silky Spice”:
It looks like my spice drawer asplode. But it smells STUPID. I mean, if there ever were a scandalous Victorian tea party tea, it’s this stuff. They say it is hibiscus, cinnamon, cloves, sarsaparilla, coconut, allspice and orange flowers. All I know is that I want to find a Highlander and give him what for.
I bought 2 ounces of violet black tea and wish I’d bought more:
Violets feel like nighttime in the forest to me. I can’t explain it – certainly my native forests of the Pacific Northwest do not smell like this. But in my dreams, where bioluminescent toadstools light your way to the faery rings, it smells like this. And tastes like, it, apparently. Really subtle and not at all cloying.
“Sweet Sizzlin’ Cinnamon” needs to check itself with that name:
Anyone who plays Professor Layton for the DS knows what I’m saying when I say that S&V tea names give me Diabolical Box flashbacks. If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, listen to this song instead. Anyway, “Sweet Sizzlin’ Cinnamon” is what you’d expect. Bonus: this tea is to The Viking what garlic is to vampires.
Then comes the “Blue Moon”:
Black pepper and “berries”. The peppercorns are whole, so they’re barely detectable, unfortunately. For me. I was hoping for more pepper. I guess I could just grind some pepper into my tea, but that would mean walking over to the other side of the kitchen.
Lavender, as you can see, with “fruity” flavors. On my nose it hits as a sort of peachy-strawberry fruitiness, but way under the dusty lavender perfume. It’s a very nice tea, super subtle in a good way. I mean, you can tell it’s not plain black tea and it’s not all LAVENDER PANTY SACHET in your face.
And ah, my favorite of all, the lilac black tea:
I love this tea. This tea makes me want to go find a forest glade or a renaissance fair or quilt a velvet cape or I don’t know what the fuck, but I love it.
And at $1.55 an ounce? Dudes. Yes.
S&V sent some samples with my order, and my first thought with both was “Yuck.” And after tasting? Nope, still no. Nice try S&V! I’m sure normal people love them, but these ones are not invited to the Hobbit tea party.
Simpson & Vail have no idea I’m writing this, mind you. I paid for my order. I just wish you were here to come to my Hobbit tea party with me where we’d talk about only very good things while eating lots of cake. I’d like that a lot.
¹ Malva flowers are also known as “mallow” is a very, very old remedy for sore throats that really works. The flowers are full of mucilage.February 13th, 2011 | Food Rant, Obsessed