Review: Culinary Teas Lapsang Souchong

Black Tea, Culinary Teas, Lapsang Souchong Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The aroma, on the other hand, was all smoke and no mirrors."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9/10
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Legend has it that Lapsang Souchong came to be pine-smoked as a shortcut. Reasons for how this shortcut came to be are varied - as is the town of origin for the type. (Most sources claim Tong Mu village.) The leaf cultivar used for Lapsang is called "caicha", which originated from Mt. Wuyi. - the great-granddaddy of all Fujian-grown teas. A funny thing to note about smoked tea is that it actually undergoes two pan-frying processes before the requisite smoking. The result is a collection of soot-black, curly leaves that smell like campfire. I. Love. Lapsang Souchong.

Culinary Teas notes that their Lapsang is the Fujian-produced type. One thing I've always loved about this vendor is their attention to detail. Not only do they include a bio but also import info on the batch. No other vendor - online or bricks-and-mortar - that I've run across offer that much info. The dry leaves for this Lapsang didn't deviate from its kin much. It smelled like hickory, pipe tobacco, campsites, chocolate and burnt toast. In short, perhaps the manliest tea on the market.

Brewing called for 1 teaspoon for each cup of boiling water (8oz, likely), and a three-to-seven-minute steep. I never "cook" my teas for that long - three minutes at most. However, this being Lapsang Souchong, I risked a four-minute infusion; Taoist middle-ground-ish.

Upon seeing the infusion color, I could understand why they recommended seven minutes. At only four, the tea had reached a light amber-to-crimson palette. The aroma, on the other hand, was all smoke and no mirrors. I could only compare it to a swamp filled with steaks that'd been lit on fire, very strong in its hickory "note". The taste surprised me with its gentle delivery, like going into a ring to wrestle a bear...but all it wanted to do was hug. After its floral prologue, it settled into its pinewood smokiness and completely forgot about imparting an astringent aftertaste. A very good Lapsang Souchong.

— To purchase Culinary Teas Lapsang Souchong, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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