Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Steepster Select
Our Lapsang is a hearty black tea which has been lightly smoked over aged pine. Surprisingly sweet and complex, note how the pine aromas start strong up front and soon diminish revealing a very structured and delicate flavor.
I’ve never made any big secret of the fact that I’m not particularly fond of overly smoky teas. And as I typed the previous sentence, it occurred to me that is probably not the first time that I said that here on this blog. So, when this Lapsang Souchong Black Tea was included as part of the Steepster Select box this month, I wasn’t exactly doing the happy dance. I wasn’t … unhappy … exactly, but, I wasn’t thrilled either.
As I sit here typing, my hot cup of tea sits before me and the aroma of smoke wafts from the teacup. It isn’t an overpowering scent, that is to say, it doesn’t make me feel as though I’m sitting ’round a campfire. But, the smoke is there. It’s smoky.
I brewed this cup the way I typically brew a Lapsang Souchong or other strongly smoked tea, I gave it a quick, hot water rinse.
This time, I did a 20 second rinse rather than my usual 15 seconds, not sure that the extra five seconds will do a whole lot different, but, I just kept counting after the fifteen and I didn’t realize – hey, it’s time to dump out the rinse water. What can I say? It’s still early and this is my first cup of the day, I haven’t had any caffeine and my brain isn’t functioning properly.
Anyway, after the 20 second rinse, I brewed the cup for three minutes. I’m glad to say that the tea tastes less smoky than it smells. It still has a fairly strong smoky taste, but there are a lot of other interesting flavors in this cup as well.
I can really taste that delightful caramel-y undertone. As much as I am not fond of smoky teas, the thing that I’m quite captivated by with a smoky tea (and the one thing that keeps me coming back to try a smoky tea now and then) is that caramel-y undertone. I love the way the smoke and the caramel meld together. It’s quite magical.
As the description above suggests, this is a hearty tea, but it isn’t quite as hearty as you might expect such an aggressively smoked tea as a Lapsang Souchong to be. It doesn’t quite have the roundness that other hearty teas have, like a top-notch Assam or a Fujian Black tea might have. It certainly doesn’t qualify as a “thin” tasting tea, but it’s lighter than I’d like my first cup of the day to be.
That said, the lighter body of the tea allows me to explore some of the other flavors in this cup. I taste notes of fruit which marry beautifully with the smoked notes, giving them a taste of charred fruit, as if I grilled them. Nice! The fruit notes are difficult to distinguish, but I do taste a distinct stone fruit, like perhaps plum or nectarine, or a hybrid of the two.
I also taste notes of pine. Not surprising, right? This is a Lapsang Souchong. But, I actually taste the wood and not just the smoke. I taste the woodsy tone of pine, and that is very complimentary to the smoky tones, not adding to the smoky flavor but giving it some dimension and making the cup not be all about the smoke.
Overall, this is a pretty decent Lapsang Souchong. One of the nicer ones I’ve had. I enjoy the complexity of this.