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.