November 6, 2015

Literary Tea Line: Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens

The Literary Tea Line is here! To introduce this brand new collection of tins, we’ve written a series of blogs that will provide both a short biography for each of the authors we’ve been inspired by and an explanation for how we decided what goes into their blend. Each of these authors provided unique challenges and we did our best to make sure that our tea blends captured their individuality. The scents and flavors of these blends will transport you to the cities and countries that your favorite characters knew and loved. Curl up with your favorite book and enjoy a cup of tea inspired by the life and works of its author. This week, our blog will focus on an introductory set of authors with whom everyone’s […]
October 19, 2015

Breaking News – our new Literary Tea Line

Simpson & Vail is unveiling a new line of tea tins that we’ve been working on for months. The Literary Tea Line is a collection of blends that were created with a specific author in mind. The teas vary from a black tea blend to a flavored herbal blend and each is inspired by the authors’ works and lives. The Literary Tea Line is inspired by William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll, and Charles Dickens. A warm mug of tea and a good book go together like, well, a warm cup of tea and a good book. Keep warm in any armchair with occasional sips of tea while letting the words of brilliant writers wash over […]
September 21, 2015

Creating Our Valentine’s Day Blend

by Connor Lofink Simpson & Vail offers over 350 varieties of teas and tisanes and many of those are blends. Each tea blend had to be invented by someone and most of our flavored ones come from the wonderfully creative mind of Cyndi Harron. Ideas for new blends can come from anywhere. She might be struck with sudden inspiration or she might have to build an idea from scratch. The latter was the case with our new Valentine’s Day blend. This holiday is usually associated with creamy, decadent chocolate and rich, red fruits so when a customer emailed looking for a fruity chocolate tea, Cyndi went to work creating one. “When I first made the Valentine’s Day blend I was torn between rose and fruit,” Cyndi told me. […]
July 16, 2015

The Beginnings of Rooibos Production: From Cape to Cup

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 […]
January 13, 2015

Chai Masala Recipes – more than just tea!

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 14, 2014

Fabulous 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

Afternoon Tea with Anna of Bedford

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 […]
July 3, 2014

Solar Drying your herbs

Well it’s the heat of Summer again, which means my garden is going crazy and my herbs are ready to pick. I’m sure I’m not alone in my love of fresh dried herbs during the winter months. I don’t know where I read this but I found a great article last year on a homesteading website about drying herbs. It worked so well I thought I should pass it along. Pick your herbs in the morning when the flavor is at its maximum. I like to cut long stems of herbs so they hold together better when drying. Place the herbs on a mesh screen. If I’m drying a small leafed herb (like dill) I place a broiler pan or cookie sheet under the screen. Then place the […]