Review: Vintage Tea Company Traditional Lapsang Souchong

Black Tea, Lapsang Souchong Tea, Vintage Tea Company, Wu Yi Tea Add comments
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Smoky with finesse, the pine smoke doesn’t obliterate the flavour of the leaves. The latter's sweet, robust base is a perfect match. Very enjoyable!"
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.5/10
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vintagelapsangsouchongProcessed in the Wuyi Mountains, this tea has been harvested from semi-wild trees on May 20th, 2013, and then dried using smoldering pine fires. Looking at my sample, the leaves are large, fluffy and lightly twisted. Their aroma is predictably smoky, in a briny sort of way.

I brew the leaves according to Vintage Tea’s recommendations for gongfu brewing, infusing 3 grams – about 2 heaping teaspoonfuls, in 150ml of freshly boiled water for 20 seconds. The cup smells mildly acrid, with its strong, smoky notes. The colour of the liquor is much lighter than expected, being a pale tangerine hue. The top notes are predictably smoky, with definite hickory and pine tones. The finish is sweet, smooth and malty, making for a much lighter tea, compared to run of the mill Lapsang Souchongs.

According to the folks at Vintage Tea, this leaf can be infused up to 5 times. After 30 seconds, my second cup still tastes sweet, with a more pronounced savoury dimension. The combination reminds me of my favourite olive bread somehow. As it cools, the tea becomes increasingly floral, with distinct cinnamon notes to the finish.

I steeped my third cup for 45 seconds. The results are now more evenly flavoured throughout the sip. The briny, smoky notes are quite present at the outset. The finish is a touch sweeter, reminding me of maple syrup. As it cools the brew becomes more mineral and less flavourful. The leaves seem like they are beginning to fade.

I did manage to pull two more cups from the leaves, although these were nothing to write home about. Following a 1 and 2 minute-long infusion, the tea still had some smoke, sweet potato and malt notes left. The effect was much simpler and more mineral however. It was not bitter or harsh in any way. Another steep would probably be drinkable.

This offering is well balanced, subtle, and clearly processed with care by master tea makers. Unlike the majority of Lapsang Sounchongs, it’s smoky with finesse. The pine smoke doesn’t obliterate the flavour of the leaves. The latter's sweet, robust base is a perfect match. Very enjoyable!

— To purchase Vintage Tea Company Traditional 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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