Lap three. The self-talk, or more like self-prattle, that is going on right now is along the lines of “you can do it, do another one! Do Lupicia! Do American Tea Room!” While this may be appropriate while running actual laps, it seems clearly obsessive and possibly gastro-intestinal suicide when talking about a comparison tasting of a tea with this flavor profile.
The Samovar offering looks much like the Life in Teacup in color and leaf size. The dry leaves smell of smoke (quelle surprise!), more smoke than ash, but also have a salty meaty tang. Beef jerky more than bacon. It gives the impression of heartiness.
It steeps deep, dark and clear. Brandy, or maybe single malt scotch in color. It’s been so long since I had either that I can’t remember which is darker. :-P It’s the darker one.
The aroma is where it starts to get really interesting for comparison purposes. Underneath the smoke is the signature Samovar malty sweetness, with the beef jerky note roller skating figure eights through the rest of the aroma.
What an interesting flavor this is. It’s literally beefy. It’s smoky bouillon. It’s smooth smoky boullion with a sweet, almost wine-like, sugary undertone. I’m thinking of beef bourguignon now for some reason, though it really doesn’t taste that grapey. It has a very nice aftertaste. Sweet, smoky, and cooling to the mouth. It is, I’d say, full-bodied.
So now I have a dilemma. I don’t know where to rate this, comparatively. I like it quite a bit. But I also like the GM and I may have used too much water there. I’m not sure which I like better and maybe I’d like the GM better if I’d steeped it better. I have a feeling the Life in Teacup version is closer to the accepted lapsang souchong standard, just from what I’ve read about it in books. But these others are nice, too, and who says there isn’t room for interpretation. And I’ve only tasted three. I’m starting to work myself up into anxiety over this. Takes deep breath and exhales smoke. Maybe I should have a cup of tea and relax.
Final result, I’m calling it a tie with the LIT.