1943 Tasting Notes
My bestie of 26 years came over for lunch today. I made stuffed baked potatoes with sour cream, sautéed onion, cheddar cheese, and bacon. For dessert we had fresh Snickerdoodles and Lapsang souchong. It was very yummy on this gray, rainy day! My bestie loves puerh, and she liked this, her first Lapsang, but she said it isn’t one she feels she must purchase. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that she craves it later, though. That is how Lapsangs worked on me and on my youngest daughter. They sneak up on you!
Back in the early loose leaf days when I used to go to A Southern Season and sniff sniff SNIFF pouch after pouch of tea and tin after tin from the Fine Tea Wall, I thought Russian Caravans were pretty much the same thing as Lapsang Souchong. They both smelled really smoky to me and I was afraid of them, and puerh was on that list, too.
I lost my fear as I drank teas that had natural light smokiness, then I had some lovely blends, and then I was finally ready for the real thing. The funny thing was that my youngest child loved smoky tea right off the bat.
So here I am drinking this Caravan and wondering where the smoke is! LOL! There are a number of teas that used to seem so very smoky to me that now just seem hearty. This is very lightly smoky but it is sweet and good. No milk or sugar is needed to make this palatable, and it is comforting and bracing as we look out on yet another gray, rainy day with no sign of sunshine in the near future.
Grace Rare Tea has done what they set out to do. They carry only a few types of tea but strive to carry the best examples they can get of those types. I have never been disappointed by them.
Thank you again, Hesper June, for the amazing box o’ smoky teas! This has been the perfect week to try them all!
This was the final tea of tea party today. Because it was sold as a green, I made it like a green tea even though I knew it MUST be oolong. Those parameters have served me well so I still use them. Three minutes in 180F water and you get a pot of buttery popcorn flavor. Treat it like oolong and you still get great flavor, just nuttier and less butter-y. The memory of this tea is tantalizing me even now.
With all the kitchen revamping, I have had to move my tea stash. I realized that I seriously need to prune my collection and I am trying to drink some of the older teas. When we first went loose leaf we drank a lot of Ceylons, but then I went to Fujian black, then oolong and green, and I ignored my Ceylons. Snce this one caught my eye, I thought I would try to find out why I had so much of it left after so long.
This was the second tea served at tea party today. We had White Stilton Cheese with Cranberries on crackers and Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies, as well as Oreos and Danish Wedding Cookies.
The color of the tea as I poured it was so deep and rich, and the flavor was the same! Why didn’t I drink this up when I got it? This is fantastic tea, and my guest loved it, too! The aroma and taste were fruity fruity fruity. I won’t wait long to make this one again.
I was really curious about this particular Lapsang in the box o’ lapsangs that Hesper June sent! I wondered how the quality would be since this isn’t a company dedicated to tea, but rather herbs in general. Several of their teas get great reviews, though, so we gave it a go, and were not disappointed. Youngest thought it was good, and she is a Lapsang lover. It has a bright, sweet base that I am thinking may be largely Ceylon. This went very nicely with our lunch of chicken soup and cheese toast! Thank you, Hesper June!
Since we were feeling chilly again this morning, youngest and I decided to try a couple more lapsangs from Hesper June!
This one tastes more like natural smoke to me than the Mountain Rose Herbs tea did. The base is medium strength, plenty fortifying for a chilly morning tea! I wonder if they mix this with a bergamot tea to get Morgan Blend, or if that one is entirely different? (Yesterday I didn’t pick up the bergamot so much in the Morgan Blend but this morning when I cleaned the pot I really could smell it and don’t know how I missed it! I think I remember my guest even saying something about it being fruity. Now I want to try it again!)
This is a good warming cup, and I am having trouble choosing which Lapsang I like best!
Thank you, Hesper June! We are having fun trying all of these!
I have liked everything I ever bought from this company. Hesper June generously sent me this sample of their Russian Caravan, one of the few of their blends I have never tried.
It was rainy and chilly (for here, fifty degrees is chilly until we get used to it!) today, with flocks of birds mobbing my dogwood trees and stripping them of their berries. Very much a wet, fall day that begs for comfort foods! It stayed gray and overcast all day.
I served this with homemade Snickerdoodles today, but first we had Morgan Blend by Simpson and Vail, which was rich, layered, and smoky, while this tea didn’t smell nearly as smoky, but I guess Russian Caravan teas usually are not as smoky as lapsangs. From the aroma of the two teas, I thought the Morgan Blend was going to take all the awards.
But the first sip of this GRT changed my mind! Yes, it was much less smoky, but the tea base was delicious! And just as complex! My guest, the owner of the puppy we keep every Tuesday, had only had Lipton until a few weeks ago when we asked him to join us for some tea. He has liked everything we have given him so far, and he declared this one his favorite of the day.
What surprised me most was that my youngest daughter, who loves smoky tea, liked this one better than the Simpson and Vail, too. She said the Morgan Blend was very good, but that the Russian Caravan had “personality.” LOL! I think I know what she means.
It was rather like meeting someone that you had no idea you would enjoy talking to, and then you find yourself in lively conversation, surprised at this person not being quite what you anticipated.
What a fun tea tasting we had today!
Thank you, Hesper June! We have several more still to try!
Many thanks to Hesper June for this tea! What a puzzlement when I looked this up, because I did got detect bergamot AT ALL which goes to show that I need a lot more development in my tasting ability!
I was making Snickerdoodles when youngest made this tea so I didn’t get to smell the dry leaf. Had I done so, I would definitely have picked up a lovely, fruity, juicy bergamot aroma. By the time I sat down at the tea table think we were trying two different plain lapsangs, the tea was made and I gave each pot a sniff. This one had the richest, most bacon-y aroma, nice and smoky for this chilly, rainy day. I tried this one first because I thought it smelled the smokiest and the best.
It was very good, with rich layers of flavor. It was heartening and delicious with our cookies. The result of this tea tasting was a bit of a surprise, though, as we ended up being joined by a new tea drinker halfway through who had fun lending his opinion as well.
The final word, both were great! Thank you, Hesper June!
Ah, the resteep of the leaves from last night is exquisite!
Hubby is off today – he works on the military base so of course it is a holiday for them – so when he got home from the gym I offered him a cup. He drank it and declared it good, and held out his cup for more. He wasn’t overly surprised when I told him that this is a resteep from last night’s leaves that were a bit strong for him. He generally does prefer the second steep of dark oolongs.
My veteran’s day story is about my godfather, Jim. Jim was a journalist and he and his wife had no children, so when they became disabled I took care of all their affairs. When they died, I inherited Jim’s desk. All of his things were still in it. I found a yo-yo in the top drawer and remembered the day he took it out and showed it to me. He was so excited that he still remembered how to do tricks with it, and so pleased to have it. He was as excited as a little boy when he showed it to us!
Behind the yo-yo, shoved to the back, was something he had never shown me. It was his Purple Heart. When he was very young he had been hit by shrapnel on the beach in the Philippines. His left arm never moved again. It was locked at a ninety degree angle, and no one knew because he covered it so well and never told anyone. When I was very young, I remember him always having a windbreaker draped over that arm, so it looked very natural for him to hold it that way. After his funeral, friends and coworkers from forty or fifty years back were shocked to learn of his disability and how it happened.
I also found the letter that told how he had been hit while storming the beach, how he had been carried into a forest where they waited 24 hours to be airlifted to a hospital overseas before being sent to Walter Reed hospital. I found letters he wrote to his father, letting him know that everything was okay.
When the war was over, he went back to college. He rented the back porch of a house in Chapel Hill and attended the school there. That’s right. A young, disabled vet sleeping on a screened porch summer and winter. (And I complain when my toes are cold.) He went on to become city editor of our local paper here, and oversaw the reporting of the famous Jeffrey McDonald case. He was a founder of Methodist University, and never told a soul. He arranged for scholarships for young people from underprivileged families, and I never knew – no one did – until they came and told me after he died, because he did everything quietly, and because he thought it was right.
I wish with all my heart that I could be even half the person that man was, and I am thankful and humbled to have known him.