The Backstreet Boys have a song on an early album that went, “If you wanna get it good, girl, get yourself a bad boy.” This is pretty rich coming from the Backstreet Boys, obviously, but one cannot deny the appeal of a bad boy. Cigarettes, leather, motorcycles, hard liquor, and a devil-may-care attitude.
In my teas (and in my real life), I tend toward the “good boy”: straight or sweetly-flavored teas. But every once in a while, the bad boy winks at me — and I see, for a moment, what all the other girls are gushing about.
This lapsang souchong is a trouble-maker. It’s smoky and rich and dark and mineral. Its flavor is “natural and subtle addition that came from drying the leaves in a wok heated by pine wood. The smoke from the pine wood naturally mixed with the tea, creating a deeper and more foresty flavor that accentuated the tea’s minerality.”
If you’d like to see that drying room in action (you know you do), you should go to the listing for the tea.
Although this tea isn’t my “type,” I totally see its appeal for other people, and think that, if you want to try a rich new lapsang souchong, this might be the one for you. It’s a wild, satisfying ride.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
The earliest Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, (or Lapsang Souchong as it is commonly referred to in the West) was never deep-smoked. The smokiness was a natural and subtle addition that came from drying the leaves in a wok heated by pine wood. The smoke from the pine wood naturally mixed with the tea, creating a deeper and more foresty flavor that accentuated the tea’s minerality. The Li Family preserves this old-school aesthetic with careful application of smoke from local resinous pine. The sweet, roasted quality of the smoke processing blends with the rich flavor of the tea to yield a dark fruity flavor, and bring front and center the mineral texture of the soil of Wuyi.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
Intelligent Nutrients’ Nurture #4 is warm, cozy and balancing. We are using the Li Family’s lightly smoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong black tea from the Wuyi Mountains as the base for a smoldering base to pair with certified organic Nature #4, and draw out the natural sweetness of the tea with elderberry and coriander. Like sitting by a crackling fire, this comforting blend brings warmth and balance.
Learn more about this tea here.
From the time that I first opened the package to the last drops dripping from my gaiwan into my cha hair, I was practically seduced by the flavor. I love the smell of this tea! To put it bluntly, it smells like musky hippie perfume that all those Tibetan souvenir shops always sell in one form or another. I know, not the most glowing description ever written, but I freaking love that hippie perfume. It’s slightly sweet and smoky, with perfume notes that evoke ancient biblical spices. Frankincense? Myrrh perhaps? I cannot for the life of me put my finger on it, but I am so intoxicated by the smell.
The large, long and lightly twisted leaves are dotted with coriander, and if you can look hard enough, you can see tiny dried elderberries hiding out, same color as the leaves. I gongfu’ed this tea and was delighted by the changes in flavor profile each infusion brought to the table. The new copper penny colored brew presented different combinations each time I steeped it. The first steeping I smelled a scrumptiously peppery aroma. I tasted the peppered aroma on my tongue, as well as that hippie perfumery.
The woody notes transitioned me into the next infusion, where I got a slight lavender essence, and upon smelling the top notes, I found a warm welcome of bread and malt notes. The smoke was an afterthought, until the third time around. I half wondered if there would be any smoke to it at all. But it came out to shine in the third round. It was as if someone had just blown out a match. Not so sting to turn you off anything smoked for the rest of your life, but just a hint so that I could taste the other fascinating notes. This time I got a vanilla orange spice to compliment the hint of smoke.
Sipping and enjoying this tea sent me on a sensory overload trip. I was transported to a different time and place. I know that most people upon hearing the word ‘perfume’ being used to describe tea will most definitely run for the hills. But there is so much more to this brew than the hippie cologne. Each time I took the kettle and dowsed the tea, it showed me a different card hidden in it’s sleeves. If I had brewed it any longer, it may have tried to pull a rabbit our of my cup. This is truly a strange brew.