My MASSIVE order from Le Palais des Thes has arrived. The vast majority of them are flavoured. Unless you count a smoky tea as flavoured, in which case they’re all flavoured. Included also three free samples which… makes me think I’m just not very lucky when it comes to free samples. AC Perch’s have so far been consistent in including samples of things I know I’m not very keen on (ginger, jasmine, darjeeling…), and while these are not known dislikes, they’re just not really that interesting to me. Oh well, maybe when I try them I will change my mind!
I really didn’t know where to start with this order. Did I mention it was massive? It didn’t help that there were more than one thing in here that I was really very excited about. So I decided to just reach in and get a random pouch, which was this one.
Which coincidentally happens to be one of the ones that I was really excited about! And I see that it already comes with an Auggy stamp of approval. We have very very similar taste in black tea, she and I, and especially of the smoky variety, so now I know for certain that it is worth the excitement.
I have been led to believe that Lapsang Souchong, real LS, is always always always a Chinese base. Do correct me if I’m wrong. I’m under the impression that it’s probably one of those protected names by now, like how Champagne is only made the Champagne district of France and if it’s not greek, it’s not feta cheese. If it isn’t, it’s a distinct enough kind of tea that it probably ought to be.
Therefore this one is interesting because it’s a Taiwanese base.
The leaves, when dry, smell like your average LS. They’re smoky and pine-y, and with a touch of sweetness to them. After steeping this sweetness is so much stronger. It still smells very smoky and a bit pine-y, but the sweetness in the note is sort of fruity and honey-y and it makes the whole thing smell vaguely sticky and viscous. Sort of tough and chewy sticky.
I like a balance in my smoky teas, and my lapsangs in particular, between the smoke and the sweetness. A good LS has a strong and fruity sweet note which tastes like the smoke is mixed into it, so that the flavour profile comes across as one complex note. Many LSs, though, don’t really get to this particular balance and the flavour, while still yummy and smoky, feels divided into layers. Sweetness below and smoke sort of hanging randomly above it. Those that don’t really manage that perfect melded flavour feel more like standing in a room full of smoke with a mouthful of generic black.
The aroma of this tea has that perfectly balanced aroma, and the flavour is nearly there as well.
This one, while smoky, is actually surprisingly mild, which is odd considering LPdT calls it ‘smokiest of the smoky’. Erm no, actually, I have had much more smoky stuff than this.
Before tasting this, I sort of expected a raging smoke-monster with flavour up to here, and what I’m getting is a cute and well-behaved little bunny-wabbit. I have to say, I’m feeling slightly let down here.
At first, when you sip this, the flavour is very sweet and caramel-y. Caramel quickly turns into a fruity flavour, something stone fruit-y like plums or apricots. More the former than the latter, I think, but still somewhere in between. Funny that it should be caramel-y, because in the aroma I thought it was more like honey.
At about the same time I get the fruity notes, the smoky note begins and it grows to its strongest just before I swallow, leaving me with a long, smoky aftertaste.
The aftertaste is as strong as I want it to be and it’s very pleasant, so really, the aroma and the aftertaste is bang on. It’s just the middle, the flavour, that I find lacking. And that’s not really something that can be helped. If a tea is strong, it’s strong, and if it isn’t, you can’t make it. I shall just have to try and brew it stronger and see if that helps.
Still, it’s sweet, it’s smoky. Believe me, this will not be sitting on the shelf for long in this house.