August 10, 2015

Keep Your Pot Hot with a Tea Cozy

by Connor Lofink It’s late in the afternoon and you have a few friends over to enjoy a hot cup of tea and some juicy gossip. Everyone sits around the small table in your drawing room and you pour each guest a piping hot cup of the aromatic drink. In between sentences, you each savor small sips of your beverages, enjoying every aspect: the flavor, the warmth, the gently wafting steam filled with tempting aromas. Every so often someone reaches out to grab one of the small sandwiches or delicate cakes that sit on the table. The conversation drifts from Mr. Havisham’s new haircut to Mrs. Gentry’s new job to the exciting news about Mrs. Cutter’s eldest who has recently gotten engaged. Everyone is having a good time […]
July 16, 2015

From Cape to Cup: The Beginnings of Rooibos Production

by Connor Lofink When Benjamin Ginsberg traveled from Moscow to the Cape of South Africa in 1903 with plans to make his fortune in the tea trade with his father, he was quickly introduced to what the Dutch settlers called “bush tea.” It was a brew made from the leaves of the Rooibos plant that grew in the nearby scrublands. The Dutch settlers had enjoyed this not-quite-tea for over a hundred years before Ginsberg’s arrival, but its popularity outside of the South African settlements was limited. Ginsberg recognized that an herbal beverage like Rooibos, which the locals assured him had medicinal properties as well, offered an appealing alternative to the Chinese and Indian black teas that people were used to. Those black teas were a rare treat down […]
June 18, 2015

The origin of Iced Tea

by Connor Lofink A heat wave burned across the midwest on the morning when the India Tea Commissioner Richard Blechynden and his staffers set up the East Indian Pavilion for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Blechynden hoped that free cups of tea would convince people more familiar with the Chinese variety that his Indian tea had potential. But when the fair got underway, the temperatures did not subside. Instead, they rose and rose as more and more people gathered to see exhibits from 62 different countries. Women wandered the fair in full-length dresses and wore wide-brimmed hats to protect them from the sun while the men wore three-piece suits. The fashion of the day meant that everyone was suffering from the high temperatures. 20 million people visited the […]
April 13, 2015

Tea Infuser Mugs

I remember when I was a kid and working for S&V in the 1980’s & 90’s, we didn’t have many choices of teaware items. There were teapots, of course, but many of them didn’t have infusers. The ones that had infusers, the holes were so large that quite a few tea leaves would go through them when straining. The preferred, traditional, method for tea brewing was to put the loose leaves in the pot and use a strainer on your cup & saucer. My mother, Joan, scoured resources searching in many places for new items, which, without the internet, was not an easy task. Tea mug Infusers with larger holes               Today the world of tea brewing has exploded with so many […]
February 9, 2015

Tea Flavor Chart

Check out our new tea flavor chart. Each person has a unique “flavor profile” that they prefer. By selecting those flavors that you enjoy you may find other loose leaf tea flavors that you would also enjoy. Choose teas based on their flavor profile and find your new favorites by clicking on the boxes below. Here at Simpson & Vail, the Harron family’s mission is to uphold the highest standards in quality, service and value, in order to best serve you, our faithful customers. We are dedicated to bringing you the finest quality, most health conscious products available at the fairest prices.  Simpson & Vail Inc., one of the oldest Tea companies in the USA, is a family owned business dedicated to offering quality teas from around the world. […]
January 13, 2015

This tea called Chai

Chai Masala originated in the areas in and around India and Tibet thousands of years ago. There are a few legends surrounding the invention of masala tea. One is that an Indian king was made this tea by his chef and so loved the drink that he banned the chef from revealing the recipe to anyone else. After his death, the secret recipe was given out, whereupon it was changed based on the ingredients people had available to them.  Another legend claims that the Tibetans were the originators of this recipe, using it as an offering and as a sign of hospitality. Their recipe used spices with salt and whatever dairy products were available (goat’s milk, yak butter, etc …).  Whoever was the originator of chai and masala […]
November 20, 2014

Holiday Gift Idea Custom Tea Blends

The Gift of Tea Blending   This holiday why not surprise the tea lover in your life with a holiday gift that keeps on giving …  all the ingredients to make their own custom tea blends!  Create your own thoughtful gift that combines teas with spices, herbs, fruits and flowers and let your loved ones make their own blends. Tea blending is a fun way to create teas suited to your taste. There are thousands of different blend combinations that they can create. Start with a base tea (black, white, green, oolong or herbal (like rooibos, tulsi or olive leaf)) then add flowers, fruits or spices to create a unique look and taste. For flavored tea lovers, you can start with a flavored base tea and add different […]
November 14, 2014

Floral Teas

Bring the aroma of Spring and Summer into your house this winter with some of our floral teas. Are you new to floral teas and how they are made? Here’s a little introduction. Our floral tea blends are a combination of either teas that are just blended with herbs or teas that are blended with herbs and flavorings. Jasmine Teas All of our Jasmine teas are produced by infusing the tea leaves with fresh picked Jasmine blossoms. The process of producing Jasmine tea started in China sometime during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) using tea blended with Jasmine blossoms. Jasmine teas are created using different types of tea: white, oolong and green predominantly. The base teas used are picked, depending on the type of tea, from March to June, […]
September 2, 2014

Anna of Bedford and Afternoon Tea

September 3rd is the anniversary of the birth of Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, and the woman credited with creating the tradition of afternoon tea. While tea drinking in England, and meals with tea, certainly existed before Anna was born, she has been credited as the inventor of this pastime for a few reasons. Anna Russell was born into a prominent family, both in terms of wealth and their position in society. She was a great friend to Queen Victoria and as such held an influential position in society herself. The ritual of afternoon tea began when the dinner meal in England started to be served later in the evening (around 8 pm). The time between lunch and dinner was so long that people began having a […]
August 6, 2014

Water in America

We all know that the best cup of tea starts with good water. If your water contains chlorine or heavy minerals, it’ll be impossible to achieve the tastiest tea brew. I am fortunate that I have access to clean, delicious water at home and at work. Most of the time I take it for granted.  When I turn on the tap, I expect that I’ll receive decent, healthy water. Every once and awhile though we need to step back and look at these things we take for granted. Imagine if when I turned on the water I did not enjoy good water. Imagine that when I turned on the taps brown water came out, or water with harmful chemicals, or bad tasting water . Imagine if I turned […]