While I’m eagerly awaiting some new teas I’ve ordered, I thought I’d put in another quick note about an atypical experience I had with Laoshan Black over the weekend. On Sunday morning I woke up a bit late from staying out tango dancing past 1:00am the previous night, and I was in a big hurry to catch the bus to another tango workshop I had that morning. . . So no time for gongfu cha. :P
I thought I’d just brew up a mug of black tea western style, which is now a rare thing for me. I usually reach for any assam on hand (creamed and sweetened) if I just want an quick caffeine kick like this, but I had drunk a really good golden needle black tea the previous morning, and on the heels of that the thought of assam made me wince a little. So my alternative was to try the Laoshan Black western style.
Brewed about a teaspoon and a half of it in a mug for four minutes. I decided to try it plain first and see what it was like. Smooth and tasty! I could definitely have enjoyed the whole mug straight, but I also wanted to experiment out of curiosity. So I pulled out some milk and very carefully poured a very small amount in. It really doesn’t need much, if you’re going to use any. With the same care, I tried to sweeten it ever so slightly with honey. Not the best idea. This tea is delicate and transparent enough to be overwhelmed by additives, and the honey flavor will take over. Thankfully, I only used a little bit. If you’re going to sweeten, very small amount of sugar would be better than a sweetener with more if its own flavor character.
In any case, it worked well enough, though in the end I think I would’ve rather had that mug of tea without any adulterants. Lesson here is that if you’re going to add anything to this black tea, be very very modest. My preference for preparing and drinking this tea will always be the gongfu method, and that is what I would recommend to others as the best way to fully enjoy its wonderful characteristics.