Review: ESP Emporium China Lapsang Souchong

Black Tea, ESP Emporium, Lapsang Souchong Tea, Wu Yi Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I wasn't belching "buuurning" after the initial sip."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.7/10
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The origin behind the word "souchong" is an interesting one. It is apparently a combination of two Mandarin words - "hsiao" (meaning, young) and "chung" (meaning, kind). Young kind. In Fukienese, it simply refers to "smoky sub-variety". There are many stories centered around how Lapsang Souchong was created. My favorites always involved invaders. The most likely involved the villagers of Tong Mu rushing the processing, pine-smoking as a shortcut. And to many tea drinkers, Lapsang does taste like a shortcut. I was lucky in that my first Lapsang ever was sourced from Tong Mu; the village in Wuyi where it originated. Ever since then, I've been fortunate that almost every smoked tea I've had, I've liked. Hopefully, this wasn't an exception.

There's no gentle way to put it here, it smelled like campfire. I happen to love the smell. It reminds me of the family cabin up in the Big Horns - chill air, calm night, roasting wood. The scent brought that all back in seconds, and it was strong. Appearance-wise, this batch looked like any other roasted/smoked black tea, soot-colored and twisty. They also appeared longer than average for a leaf, consistent with the above claim that larger leaves were used.

Brewing instructions were on the thick side of easy, 1 tsp per 6oz of boiled water, steeped for four or five minutes. I did something I usually don't do and brewed it at the least recommended time, mainly to see what other characteristics beyond pine smoke I could pick up. (If any.) That and I went with a tablespoon of leaves in an 8oz cup.

At only four minutes, it brewed rather light for a black tea; bronze-to-russet. The aroma was not entirely all smoke but close, yet there was also a sweetness to it like burnt cocoa. The taste was bold on the forefront, smooth in the middle, and surprisingly floral and earthy on the aftertaste. I wasn't belching "buuurning" after the initial sip. This more layered cup was probably due to the shorter infusion. Had I waited another minute, I'm sure I would've had more pine smoke than I could deal with. However, that speaks volumes about the product itself. Just a difference of a minute can change the outcome of this tea - a trait Lapsang usually doesn't possess. Whether it be campfires or camping in from of the computer, this is a welcomed winter tea.

Visit ESP Emporium for more information on this tea and many more from their extensive product catalogue

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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