High quality Nb/Al-based tunnel junctions, fabricated with a superconducting interface onto thick single crystalx-ray absorbers of Nb and Ta are discussed. Current-voltage characteristics, recorded at 0.5 K, show a subgap current which is still dominated by thermally excited quasiparticles. The quality parameter Rsubgap/Rnormal reaches a value of several million, which is unequalled for nonepitaxially sputtered tunnel junctions. The fabrication process and some development steps, such as preparation of ultrasmooth crystal surfaces are described. Observations of x-ray photons absorbed in Nb and Tasingle crystals detected by the superconducting tunnel junctions are also presented.