Sensiblyscript’s Take on Lapsang Chai by Bluebird Tea Company. . . .

Steeping specs: One teaspoon at 212 degrees for 4 minutes in 1 cup of water.

This was an exciting idea for a tea. I’ve tried actual lapsang souchong once and couldn’t get through my mugful (maybe it was a bad idea to add milk, but I couldn’t stand it without milk either so I figured it couldn’t hurt anything). It’s not because I don’t like smoky flavors, either. I love smoked meat (I mean, BACON, right?), and I love campfires although it’s true I don’t eat them. But combining smoky tea with other strong spices that I know I like sounds like a very clever idea. I only wish I’d had it. In fact, I think I might have the rest of that sample packet of Lapsang somewhere; maybe I should go experiment with mixing it with various chais.

But I digress. . . .

After steeping for four minutes I took a good whiff–it smells tantalizingly smoky. This could be either a good thing or a problem, as mentioned above. The color is amber-ish–on the light side for a chai, I think (and I do have the unfortunate tendency to judge my tea’s strength by its color! I’ve been known to waaaaay over-steep my tea just because it didn’t look dark enough to me). A few crumbs of leaf have escaped my basket, so maybe I’ll use the finer mesh next time I steep this. What’s really exciting is that although the smell is smoky, I can smell spices too! Cinnamon, ginger, and possibly clove, I think.

First taste: it’s definitely not tasting like liquid smoke here, which is good! The flavor combo is hard to describe, though. The smoky tang and the warmth from the spices hit me at approximately the same time with each sip, which means it really has a kick! It’s not a super spicy chai, though, so if you’re sensitive to spice that probably won’t be a problem (depending on just how sensitive you are, of course. Some people manage to complain of spiciness in foods that taste basically bland to me).

The smokiness combines especially well with the ginger notes for some reason. Does ginger have a smoky component normally? I don’t know. I just know that this tastes really, really good. The smoke lingers a bit after each sip, but like I said, it’s not overpowering.

I also tried this tea with milk and sugar and found it still enjoyable, although less unique. That could just be due to the fact that I have a tendency to put milk and sugar in all my tea, though the milk does seem to muffle the brightness of the spice notes a bit too.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

We like to do things a bit differently at Bluebird. Our latest infusion is a thoughtful blend of Lapsang Souchong, malty Assam + aromatic masala chai spices. A BREWtiful blend of tea + culture alike!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Lapsang Souchong from Little Red Cup Tea. . . . .

I have been upping my intake of Lapsang Souchong as of late. I’m not sure if it’s because of the cooler weather, change of season, or just because I’m craving it – but what ever the reason I glad I am. Lapsang Souchong from Little Red Cup Tea is the tea of the moment for me and I have been wanting to share it with you for a while now.

Lapsang Souchong from Little Red Cup Tea is a stereotypical yet top-notch Lapsang Souchong! It gives off the ‘camp fire’ smell you would expect it would. It has a rather loud aroma and flavor but I would expect nothing less from this gem of a company! I enjoy this because of its pungency. Because of its quality. And because of its character. It does finish quiet smooth considering how it starts out and I find that fascinating and I welcome it.

If you are looking for something for the change of season or just looking for a potent, smoky, flavored black tea – try Lapsang Souchong from Little Red Cup Tea – I enjoyed every sip!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Little Red Cup Tea

Our Lapsang Souchong (Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, 正山小种) is amazing. We know, that’s a bold statement, and some will disagree. But Lapsang Souchong is a love it or hate it proposition, and we’ve given our hearts to this tea. This is one of our strongest teas, think bridge abutments or skyscraper foundations. This is our most pungent tea — we send it to you in a ziplock bag in addition to our regular packaging.

The black tea is redolent three distinct flavors at once — the black tea base, a hint of longyan (Dragon Eye, a Chinese tree fruit similar to lychee) and the pinewood smoke which is the tea’s most defining element.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

The Holiday Season Approaches!


ChristmasLogo1This isn’t a review but an advertisement (sorry guys!)  No, we don’t usually advertise here on this site – this is an anomaly – but because one of the founding SororiTea Sisters is now the Mad Tea Artist behind 52Teas, she gets the privilege of deviating from the norm.

And 52Teas has a Holiday Pre-Sale going on right now on Kickstarter!  This isn’t a typical “fundraising” Kickstarter campaign, instead, this is a chance for you to get some Christmas shopping done early while it helps us keep things just a little more organized by keeping our pre-sales separate from our day-to-day sales activity.

52Teas is offering 5 unique, limited edition teas for this promotion – these teas will be available only during the season and once they’re sold out, they won’t be reblended until next Christmas!

Here’s the specs on those five VITs (Very Important Teas):

  • Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire – This is a special blend of black teas with a hint of Lapsang Souchong to give it that smoky touch that you’d experience from an open fire.  Flavored with chestnut and caramel and just a hint of spice to give it that winter-y kind of appeal.
  • Gingerbread Houjicha – I love the flavor of gingerbread and I think that the roasty-toasty, nutty flavor of houjicha would offer a delightful base to these flavors.
  • Eggnog Chai – A Chai blend (black tea with a touch of honeybush) flavored with notes of custard-y eggnog with an extra dash of nutmeg to enliven the cup.  This would make a great latte to serve Santa on Christmas Eve!
  • Cranberry Orange Cider – A blend of red and green rooibos that’s been flavored with cranberry, orange and apple with a medley of holiday spices.
  • Peppermint Marshmallow Melting in Hot Chocolate – For this blend, I chose a special black tea blend (crafted with teas from our friends at Verdant Tea) for the base that has a rich, natural cacao flavor with hints of malt.  Peppermint, marshmallow and even more chocolate-y flavor to create a deliciously delightful cuppa.

YUM!  So please take a moment to visit the 52Teas Kickstarter Holiday Pre-Sale and get some of that early Christmas shopping done early!  The campaign closes on October 27th so your card won’t be charged until that date, and the teas will be shipped in plenty of time for gift giving!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this . . . now let’s get back to the reviews!

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.

Sherlock Holmes Black Tea by Adagio

sherlockholmesTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Adagio

Tea Description:

All at once exotic and mysterious and perhaps a little bit insane, with a lingering hint of smoke.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of Cara McGee’s Sherlock fandom blends, inspired by the character of (who else?) Sherlock Holmes. It’s a blend of Adagio’s Lapsang Souchong, Assam Melody, and Oriental Spice, all of which are black teas. The dry leaf smells reasonably strongly of smoke, with a hint of spice underlying. Exotic and enticing! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, so no additions this time.

I will freely admit to being more than a little scared of smoky teas, and particularly Lapsang Souchong. One early experience with a very strong Lapsang really, really put me off, and I’ve been very wary ever since. I’ve tried a few lightly smoked teas since and not been repelled, so I’m hoping that I can perhaps gradually build up an appreciation of smoky teas, given time. My forays into this territory are still fairly rare, though, and this will be the first in a while!

The first sip was taken with a little trepidation! I’m pleased to report, however, that this is palatably smoky. The initial flavour is, of course, the Lapsang Souchong. It’s quite a gentle smoke, though, reminiscent of a just-beginning barbecue rather than a raging bonfire. I think this is owed at least in part to the assam, however, which adds a sweet malt undertone that seems to temper the smokiness a little, rounding off what might otherwise have been quite harsh edges. There’s a spiciness in the midsip that’s very welcome, adding a third string to this particular bow. I can taste cinnamon, clove, and maybe a touch of ginger, although none are particularly strong or overpowering. Mostly, I’m struck by how well balanced this blend is between its three elements – smoke, sweet, and spice. Each flavour can be tasted individually, but they also work well as a cohesive whole to make this an interesting and enjoyable tea. It’s certainly frames each of its constituent parts in a new way! What surprised me most is how smooth this tea is. I’m really pleased that it didn’t turn out acrid or bitter, especially since I’ve not added any milk.

 With regard to the fandom aspect of this tea, this blend seems like a fairly fitting tribute to Sherlock. It’s a dark and a little mysterious with its background of almost hidden spice (shrouded in smoke, perhaps?) It tastes like I imagine Sherlock’s coat might smell. This would make a good introduction to smoky teas for someone uncertain (or just plain scared, like me!), or for a fan of flavoured blacks looking to try something a little different. This one’s a winner in my book.