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!

Smoky Coconut Packs a Punch!

Smoking Coconut from 52Teas packs a punch!  It has a base of bold Assam black tea, the powerful addition of coconut chips, and the dangerous, dreamy taste of smoke.  I’ve come to seek out smoky teas of the years, so I found this to be an exciting, enjoyable cup.  The coconut is fragrant and buttery throughout the dry leaf and brewing process, while the smoke lingers at the back end of each sip.  With the fatty coconut and hint of smoke, this tea feels more savory than refreshing.  It would pair well with a bold meal like bacon and eggs or a barbeque lunch.

This tea review goes out to a favorite create-a-character from my 2012 wrestling video game: Smoky Coconut.  Smoky was an old school wrestler, big dude, rocking a classic mullet, and throwing down power moves in his blazing white singlet. Pound-for-pound, Smoky had the best mustache in the business. Though he lost the infamous rumble match to SpicyGirlGimlet, Smoky Coconut will always have a place in the hearts of his fans.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: black
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Description: I just wanted a tea that was coconut-y and a little bit smoky. So that’s what I did. Sometimes, that’s what my inspiration is all about. I wanted a coconut-y tea and I thought that the combination of a lightly smoky tea with the creamy, sweet coconut flavor would be really interesting.
I started with a blend of black teas – a rich, malty Assam; a smooth, medium-bodied Ceylon and a tippy, robust Yunnan. Then I added just a teensy bit of Lapsang Souchong to give it a hint of smoke. I wasn’t going for a heavily smoked tea this time around – I didn’t want an overpoweringly smoky presence – just enough smoke to add some contrast to the silky sweet coconut flavor. Then I added a bunch of huge shreds of coconut.
The result is a sublimely yummy cuppa that you’ve gotta try. Sure, it might be a little on the ‘usual’ side especially when compared to some of the teas that we’ve made in the past but it’s no less delicious. Sometimes – going with something a little more ordinary can lead to extraordinary results!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Rington’s Kenyan Gold Tea from Rington’s Premium English Teas

kenyanRingtonsTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Rington’s Tea

Tea Description:

Unlike some traditional teas, Kenyan teas are produced in ways that make them perfect for teabags – fast infusing and full of flavour. Tea grown east of the Rift Valley is widely considered to be some of the best quality tea in the world, that’s why our Kenyan Gold blend is sourced exclusively from this region. We specially seal these teas on the estates to ensure they are as fresh and flavourful as possible, producing a fuller, smoother taste. It’s what Ringtons are good at.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Kenyan Gold Black is a bagged tea from Ringtons, a UK tea company. At first glance, it looks like a typical bagged black tea. It’s in a square paper bag, and is about half full with finely shredded leaf. The scent is typical “black tea”. I used one bag for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up to a fairly dark golden-brown, so I added a splash of milk.

I half expected this one to be either bready or chocolatey, given that it’s a Kenyan tea and described as “gold”. Possibly my previous experiences led me astray a little, though, as this one really isn’t either of those things. What it is is moderately malty, with the molasses-like sweetness that implies. It’s fairly one-note in that respect, though, except for a very mild smokiness kicking around in the background. It’s quite a strong, hearty brew with a lot of body, and is almost thick-tasting and chewable. Such texture! The flavour lingers nicely into the aftertaste, making this a very satisfying, flavourful cup. It doesn’t have much subtlety, but that’s a very small criticism.

I enjoyed this one. It’s a reliable, everyday kind of tea – not particularly unique, but strong and wonderfully malty. It’s a tea I’d definitely revisit.

Fuijan Black from Liquid Proust Teas

FujianBlackTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Liquid Proust Teas

Tea Description:

As someone who didn’t like black teas for awhile, this is one of those black teas that make me wonder why I was like that for so long.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m pretty sure Andrew’s spelling of “Fuijan” is a typo and it’s meant to be “Fujian” but since it’s a typo he seems to have made across the board, I’m leaving it as it’s displayed on his Etsy page.

Dry, the leaf looks a little broken up and doesn’t really give off much of a scent. Perhaps a little bit of a cocoa aroma, but I could also be grasping at straws with that observation. I steeped this up hot and plain and using Andrew’s recommended steeping directions as a guide.

I’m enjoying this cup of tea. I don’t love it as much as I do a good Assam, but it’s a nice change of pace. Mostly it tastes like a good baker’s chocolate with a little bit of bitterness – which is a welcomed flavour when it comes to baker’s chocolate or dark chocolate. I also has some smokier top notes which wasn’t what I was expecting to taste, and a sweeter, fruity and honey like finish. There’s not really much more to go on about though; this is a simple enough tea with some basic flavours that I’m finding enjoyable to sip on.

In my opinion, it’s not the best offering from Liquid Proust Teas – and to be fair it’s the only straight/pure tea I’ve tried from the store but I’m probably not making a grand leap to assume that Andrew’s strong suit is probably his blended/flavoured teas which display a greater level of creativity than this tea does.

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.