Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review - Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang Souchong is one of those very distinctive teas you generally either love or hate. I happen to love it! One evening I was sitting with my friend Niraj and his wife in his tea studio. A customer came in and talked about using Lapsang Souchong as a dry meat rub, to impart a smoky flavor. What a great idea I thought. Then the man continued, "I can't imagine anyone actually drinking it." Niraj and Mary turned to look at me, "She does."

What exactly is Lapsang Souchong and what makes it so unique? Lapsang Souchong is a traditional smoked tea made in the Fujian Province of China by drying a robust black tea over pine wood smoke thus imparting its famous smoky flavor. There's a fascinating story as to how this ancient tea originated...but I'll leave that for another time.

I adore iced tea and generally drink iced tea over hot, even in winter. I make my iced teas using a Salton Iced Tea Maker. Therefore I will review teas in both forms, hot and iced.

Lapsang Souchong

The Dry Leaf: Strong smoky scent reminiscent of a campfire in the forest.

The Wet Leaf (After Steeping): Less strong, but still very smoky and sultry.

Liquid: Gorgeous deep amber, almost chestnut red in color.
Scent: Lightly smoky, rich, warm.
Taste: Full bodied, smoky and rich. There's a slight nuttiness and a subtle soft sweetness. Yet the finish is crisp, slightly astringent, leaving you ready for your next sip! This tea brings to mind curling up inside under a blanket with a good book on a crisp fall evening or a winter's night with the snow falling outside.

Iced: Lighter in color, but still a gorgeous amber-no real trace of the red found when served hot.

Scent: The smokiness is intensified.

Taste: The juxtaposition of heat and cold is amazing. The beverage itself is cold, but the flavor is hot smoke! Imagine an icy stream yet you jump in and it's actually a hot geyser. There is a slight astringency with a hint of menthol. It's delightfully refreshing and completely surprising!

I honestly did not think that Lapsang Souchong would make a good iced tea. I happily proved myself wrong!

In short, Lapsang Souchong is a woodsy campfire for your palette.

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