Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Harney & Sons
A blend of four teas along with an additional touch of Lapsang, this is a softer version of Smoky Lapsang Souchong. This tea is reminiscent of the teas that were carried by camel across the Asian deserts to Russia. As Norwood Pratt quips: “the only choice was one hump or two.”
Learn more about this tea here.
Just like I am with most smoky teas … I was a bit hesitant to try this Russian Country Black Tea Blend from Harney & Sons. I even like smoky teas (so long as they aren’t TOO smoky!) now but, there is still some of the residual memories of a bad smoky tea experience that causes me to recoil a bit when I encounter a smoky tea.
Fortunately though, this one is indeed a “softer version of Smoky Lapsang Souchong,” as promised in the above description. It certainly has a smoky element to it, but, it is not overly smoky … and truth be told, it’s actually quite delicious. So much so, that I am nearly finished with this cup, and I had to stop myself from drinking it so that I could compose the review!
I love it when I find a tea like that … something that I’m enjoying so much that I forget that I need to write about it, and by the time I remember, I’m nearly finished with the tea!
The flavor is rich and satisfying. It has a robust quality to it – this is a tea that you could serve as that first cup of the day to get the eye opening results you need. There is some astringency to it, and a certain brightness which leads me to believe that this blend has some Ceylon in it … that bright, brisk flavor tastes like a Ceylon to me.
And after examining the website, I see that this is correct, this is a blend of Assam, Keemun, Ceylon as well as Lapsang Souchong and Formosa Oolong! I don’t taste much from the Oolong … except the smooth texture of the tea. I do note the malty notes of the Assam, and even the richness of the Keemun. Overall this tea is sweet, smoky, rich and malty … and possesses that sort of “fresh-baked” taste to it … like the caramelized, chewy crust of a fresh baked loaf of French bread. YUM!
This makes a great latte if you want one … and it tastes great straight up too. I prefer it with about half a teaspoon of turbinado sugar to soften the edge a little bit and to enhance the caramel tones. It’s really a wonderful tea, and a great “smoky” tea for those who tend to be sensitive to the overly smoky taste of a pure Lapsang Souchong, but still want a hint of smokiness to their cup.
Anne started her journey with tea as a casual drinker and became more serious about her tea drinking when she realized that she couldn't drink coffee. Shortly thereafter, she started becoming obsessed with the beverage and she started creating small-batch, artisan blends of tea that she sold online as LiberTEAS. After a few years, she realized she wasn't cut out to be the sole proprietor of a business so she closed LiberTEAS and started reviewing teas online. She met Jennifer through another blog that they both reviewed for and they decided to start their own review blog. This review blog!
Throughout her journey as a tea reviewer, she discovered 52Teas and became enamored with the idea of creating a new tea every week. When the founder of 52Teas decided he wanted to move on, he offered the business to Anne but knowing that she wasn't cut out to be a sole proprietor, she instead offered the company to her oldest daughter who employs her as the Mad Tea Artist for 52Teas!
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