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Recent Tasting Notes
I was first introduced to lapsang souchong when a friend let me taste a Twining’s tea bag some years ago. I haven’t really had it much since then, but I always liked the smoky taste.
Now that I’ve been researching more about tea, I’ve learned about Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, but have yet to have a chance to try it and in either case, I enjoy a strong smoky flavor.
I’ve had this particular tea from Adagio once or twice made western style, this is my first time having it gongfu style.
90C, 4.5 g, 100ml, first infusion about 10 seconds.
Well, it smells like smoke. Straight up. The first infusion of this is smoky and sweet. It’s like drinking sweet smoke. Or barbecue aftertaste.
In the second infusion, more of the taste of the actual tea shines through. Barely there bitterness, a bit of sourness. Not really getting much sweetness in this steep, but a bit of a sweet scent is clinging to the cup. I also let this steep go a bit longer than I intended.
Forgot about my third infusion as well. Today is not my day. Smoky smell and taste remain. I feel like pine is more pronounced in this steep. I can probably get some more out of it, but it’s about lunchtime so I’ll finish up!
Flavors: Ash, Char, Pine, Smoke, Sweet
~4.5g in 100 ml water at 99C, initial steep ~20 seconds
So I almost lost this session’s tea as a result of dropping the gaiwan for no apparent reason. It just slipped out of my hand mid-pour. Some tea leaves fell out, but I got most of the liquid in my cup and a lot of the leaves stayed in the gaiwan, so I decided not to let it stop me.
The first steep is amber-colored, smooth with a charcoal flavor (like, fresh, cleansing charcoal, not barbecue bricks or something), has no astringency, and leaves a sweet honey-like scent clinging to the empty cup.
The second steep has an almost creamy scent, a bit more smokiness coming out in the flavor, is still very smooth going down and has maybe the slightest bit of astringency on the back of the tongue. A nice honey scent still clinging to the empty cup.
Third steep…Maybe the universe just didn’t want me to drink this tea. I got distracted by an interesting issue brought to my attention at work and oversteeped. By a lot. Ended up with a dark amber liquor, but the taste was still good and the mouth feel still smooth. I got so absorbed in what I was doing that I didn’t give sufficient attention to the tea. I will see if I can get any more infusions out of it.
Fourth steep. Yeah, it’s done. I did get a good amber color and a good charcoal scent, but the taste is starting to get watery and not much lingers to the empty cup anymore.
Flavors: Ash, Char
99C for 20 or so seconds on the first infusion
Light color, nutty scent, smooth without much astringency, a slight hint of sourness
Second infusion brings out more sourness, a fresh green bean flavor, the empty cup has a sweet, lingering scent.
In the following infusions, these attributes gradually lightened.
Flavors: Green, Toasty
This tea has the flavor of a very light sesame oil. The taste is extremely clear, but subtle. Amber colored liquor, fairly fragmented leaves.
Brewed gong fu style with about 3.5 grams of leaf in about 100 ml of water at 80C/176F. I found the texture to be quite smooth on the 2nd and 3rd infusions. Wasn’t able to get any more flavor out of the leaves after that. I could see this making a decent iced tea. Nothing to write home about, however.
This tea has an amazing, candy-like smell. If I were blindfolded and you told me I was sniffing a Junior Mint candy, I would probably have believed you. The rooibos, mint, and chamomile really work well in this blend and you can taste all three. There’s also a nice hint of vanilla. Mint is definitely the forward flavor here. Although I love all things mint, after a few sips it became too intense and medicinal.
All in all, a good easy sipping, night time herbal. Nice tea if you’re looking for something candy like without sugar.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint, Vanilla
Let’s start catching up on this backlog of mine. Also, let’s go ahead and state that I have a sentimental attachment to this tea. It was the first Yunnan black tea I ever tried. It was also maybe the second or third loose leaf tea I ever had. I have been familiar with this one since I was sixteen years old. This tea was a friend to me through both high school and college. With all that out of the way, understand that this tea played a formative role in my appreciation of tea, thus it is unlikely that I will be able to review this one entirely objectively.
I brewed this one two ways. The first preparation was a one step Western infusion. For this session, I simply steeped 1 teaspoon of loose leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. The second preparation was gongfu. I steeped 6 grams of tea leaves in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 8 second, 10 second, 12 second, 15 second, 20 second, 25 second, 30 second, 40 second, 50 second, and 1 minute infusions. I will comment on both.
The 5 minute steep produced a tannic and slightly spicy tea. I detected aromas of chocolate, vanilla bean, leather, wood, malt, spice, caramel, and molasses. In the mouth, there were notes of chocolate, malt, caramel, molasses, leather, tobacco, wood, orange peel, vanilla bean, and spice. The gongfu preparation was slightly different. Prior to infusion, the leaves revealed aromas of spice, chocolate, leather, malt, and molasses. In the mouth, the first three infusions produced increasingly rich notes of molasses, chocolate, malt, caramel, orange, fig, spice, wood, leather, tobacco, vanilla bean, toast, and menthol. From the fourth infusion on, the tea began to soften, offering increasingly malty and toasty aromas and flavors underscored mostly by chocolate, vanilla bean, orange, tobacco, caramel, and molasses. A slight minerality started to become evident around this time as well. The final infusions offered mostly mineral, toast, and malt notes, though I could still detect fleeting impressions of chocolate, caramel, and molasses.
This tea was not quite as good as I remembered it being. It lacked the smoothness and depth of some of the Yunnan blacks I have tried over the course of the past year. Still, I would not call it bad by any stretch of the imagination. I could see this tea being a good starting point for those new to Yunnan black teas.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Fig, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Spices, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood