Hot Cross Bun from Bluebird Tea Co. . . .

I was too chicken to order a full supply of this springtime blend, but I did get a free sample so I got to get a taste risk-free.  Hot Cross Bun is one of the Easter flavors released by Bluebird Tea Company. This is a black tea and rooibos tea blend, though rooibos makes up the majority, so you won’t be overloaded with caffeine.

The scent of this blend was vibrant and noticeable right out of the bag.  Some of the black tea was clearly a smoky lapsang souchong, but the smoked flavor was closely followed by a powerful, sweet vanilla scent.  Quite the flavor duo.

Brewed, this tea continued to open up and show off its delicious ingredients.  The smokiness cooled off, and became more like the suggestion of a fire in the fireplace.  The creamy vanilla was heightened to the decadence of buttercream icing. Both flavors were nicely balanced by sweet and tart orange zest to bring it all together.

This is a great tea for those days that you want a sweet dessert blend, but don’t want to feel too much like a pastry chef.  The whiff of rugged lapsang souchong brings a unique boldness to this brew and makes you appreciate favorite flavors like cream and citrus in a new light.  Don’t be a chicken like me and the next time you can-order a full bag of this springtime tea before it’s gone!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black and Rooibos
Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.
Description:

This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Bonfire in a Cup: Smoky Spice from 52Teas

As we endure the last cold nights of the season, it seemed the perfect time to brew up a cup of Smoky Spice from 52Teas.  This blend combines two of my favorite cold-weather sensations: woodsmoke and cardamom. Nothing quite makes me feel as cozy and nostalgic as holding a hot cup of spicy tea, with the smell your neighbor’s wood stove on the wind.

Growing up in New England in a family with an Eastern European heritage, it seemed like we were always having winter bonfires and mulled cider or tea, celebrating some equinox or natural deity.  These winter memories hit hard when I stuck my nose in the bag of these tea leaves, and I was caught up in the heat of the fire and the warmth of the spices.

52Teas does a great job with their smoky blends, the smoke is not too savory or bacon-like, just the perfect charcoal-nutty waft of roasting logs on the fire.  The smoke is this blend is balanced, with a solid black tea base and a generous scoop of cardamom pods and vanilla beans, with no one flavor coming on too strong.

Drinking this tea is like sitting next to the fireplace and eating snappy spice cookies, or sipping on a spiced tea from your thermos out in the snow, watching a bonfire crackle away. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for this blend when the weather turns again in the fall and you smell that first wisp of wood smoke on a crisp, cool day.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Description:

This tea actually began as my Masterpiece Chai.  While I was blending the spices, I toasted my cumin and I think either the cumin was especially fresh (not a bad thing at all) or I used too much cumin (much more likely) but the resulting blend ended up tasting strongly of smoky cumin.  So I decided to add some Lapsang Souchong to amplify the smoky notes and create a Smoky Spice blend.  This is a chai with a pleasant smoky tone – it’s not overly smoky – which is fine with me because I’m not a huge fan of a strong smoky essence.  This has just the right level of smoke with a pleasant spicy note that isn’t too spicy, and it’s a little sweet and a little savory.  It’s really nice.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Macdonald’s Highland Blend from Majesteas

smokyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Majesteas

Tea Description:

Our own special blend of fine black tea will delight the single-malt whiskey lover. This tea combines peaty smokiness with a hint of citrus.

Region: China, India, Sri Lanka

Leaf: Black, full leaf mixed with cut pieces

Water Temperature: 212F

Steeping Time: 3-5 minutes

Preparation: Makes a good afternoon or morning tea, can be milked and sugared

Flavor Profile: Medium strength, smoky, peaty and smooth

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Macdonald’s Highland Blend from Majesteas is a heavy-duty tea for sure!  If you are a fan of Lapsang Souchong this tea will most likely intrigue you!  What makes this tea different from your average every day Lapsang Souchong is that this Macdonald’s Highland Blend from Majesteas is a blend of their fine black teas with a hint of citrus.  It is VERY smoky and quite ‘peaty’ as well.  Majestea says this tea will delight ‘the single-malt whiskey love’ and that it is ‘perfect after a meal.’

It’s nothing short of a ‘slap you in the face’ morning wake-up tea but if you are afraid of smoky teas you have been warned.

The citrus notes are moreso in the front of the sip and the malt finishes everything off.  Personally I enjoy this tea after the appropriate brew/infusion times and at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.  It seems to bring more of the citrus notes out.

This is an oldie-but-a-goody from my stash that I am not sadly out of.  Perhaps this is a smokey tea that you will enjoy!  If you do be sure to let us know in comments!

No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea

JW07Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Joseph Wesley

Tea Description:

Joseph Wesley’s Black Tea No. 7 is a malty, robust, full-bodied tea that is as sensual in its appearance as it is seductive in its taste and aroma. A uniquely crafted iteration of the famous and oldest of all Chinese black teas Lapsang Souchong, this tea beautifully balances its smoky undertones with rich malty plum and chocolate overtones. Harvested in the famed tea gardens of the Wu Yi Shan rock cliffs and crafted by the tea masters of the Tong Cheng Village in China’s Fujian Province, this tea’s large, dark leaves provide both a mesmerizing texture as well as a lush and rich amber liquor.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea is pretty special.  So special that I have it tucked away in a safe place that only I know of.  I classify this tea as a hidden gem no only in my personal collection but to find and buy online.  Many tea drinkers have heard, tasted, and more importantly SMELLED a good, solid Lapsang Souchong but this one separates itself from the others.  It’s smoky, yes, but it’s more than just that.  No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea is malty and robust while still offering a hint of ripe plum and dark chocolate notes in the mix.  It awakens all the senses without overdoing any one of them.  This is also a very ‘forgiving’ tea and what I mean by that is it’s hard to over-infuse.  Some strong black teas tend to go bitter if over-infused but not this one!  No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea is certainly in a category of its own!

 

Lapsang Souchong Crocodile Black from Dammann Freres

lapsang-souchong-crocodileTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Dammann Freres

Tea Description:

A black tea with a more smoky flavour than that of its Chinese counterparts. A great smoked tea from the Island of Formosa ; merits discovering.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The ‘Crocodile’ in the name of this tea is certainly intimidating; I picture it snapping at you when you take a sip. Almost like getting whiplash from the intense smoke I suspect I’ll be tasting. The smell of the dry leaf certainly seems to support my theory; however some very quick research seems to indicate the name comes more from the fact this is a Formosa Lapsang Souchong, and less because it’s gonna bite me.

This is actually really good though it’s a little less naturally sweet than some of the other Lapsang Souchong blends I’ve been enjoying lately. It’s got a very brisk black base, and the smoky notes are indeed biting, but in a way that stimulates taste rather than assaults it. Maybe it’s because it’s summer and finally BBQ season but I’m picking up flavor notes that resemble the smell of burning hamburgers on a grill. The finish reminds me a little bit of molasses or those ‘tar candies’ that are sometimes given out around Halloween.

I enjoyed this one best when it was lukewarm; but the entire cuppa was pleasant. I don’t think I could call it any better or worse than another Lapsang Souchong though. It’s certainly very smoky; so if you like your Lapsang light I’d veer away from this blend.