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Recent Tasting Notes
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
I have been so busy this week. Even though I have been drinking a ton of tea, I have yet to post any new reviews until now. A lot of that can be chalked up to laziness. When I have had free time, I always seemed to find an excuse to do anything other than get on Steepster. Now I have a backlog of reviews piled up (again) and need to post them. This is one of my most recent sipdowns, and I wanted to start with it, so here goes.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of this tea in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt additional infusions. I also tried shorter infusions around the 3 minute mark and will briefly comment on those. This review, however, primarily concerns the 5 minute infusion because I felt that one was the best.
After infusion, the liquor showed a dark amber in the cup. Pronounced aromas of pine, smoke, cedar, juniper, and toast were present on the nose. In the mouth, I noted more complexity and depth than expected. I easily detected notes of pine, smoke, tar, spruce, cedar, and juniper balanced by toast, caramel, malt, vanilla bean, and subtle spice. The finish was simultaneously rich and smoky, offering a pleasant blend of lingering wood, smoke, caramel, and toast notes. The shorter infusions were much milder, offering softer aromas of wood, smoke, caramel, malt, and toast. In the mouth, there were soft notes of pine, smoke, cedar, juniper, caramel, toast, and malt.
All in all, I did not find this to be a bad lapsang souchong. Granted it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was still very solid. I did not notice any metallic, resinous, or otherwise off flavors in this tea. I kind of suspect that many of the overwhelmingly negative reviews for this tea came from people who either already did not like lapsang souchong or who were more or less entirely unfamiliar with it. Whatever the case, I really do not think this is a bad tea. If you have yet to try it and are looking for a basic, affordable lapsang, I would encourage you to give it a chance.
Flavors: Caramel, Cedar, Malt, Pine, Smoke, Spicy, Tar, Toast, Vanilla, Wood
This is definitely a balance between coconut and pineapple, neither one is overly powerful. It’s a good flavor to pair with the red grass rooibos base. There’s nothing quite like this on adagio, so it’s well worth a try. Fruiter than pina colatta, but not as sharp as a citrus tea. It’s a sweet, creamy, caffeine-free treat!
Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Pineapple, Tropical
I got this tea to try because it was unusual for me and new to adagio. It’s not a favorite on its own, but has potential to be a nice element in blends. The summer rose smells pleasant in the bag, and melds nicely with a gentle black tea base. However, the rose flavoring does taste a bit soapy, and would probably benefit from lots of milk, sugar, or vanilla tea. Pretty, girly, and unlike other flavors on adagio, I’m glad to have in the arsenal for future blends.
Flavors: Floral, Rose, Soap
I love the idea of this blend: something for autumn, peppercorns and spice and smoke— truly some of my favorite sensations. That in mind, this tea was much sweeter than I expected. The apple and aniseed and cocoa nibs help keep this blend gentle and dessert-like, and orange flavoring keeps it bright and drinkable. The smoke is just a teeny, tiny whiff. I also like that this tea is low in caffeine, so I can drink it anytime without being so hard on my body. I’m glad to see adagio making seasonal blends of their own, it makes it fun to stop in and shop on their site. But I do wish this blend had some more gusto. A blend called bonfire didn’t seem to have very much cinnamon flame or savory woodsmoke. Maybe I’ll pump up my personal batch with some more lapsang and see how it goes.
Edit: I’ve been brewing this tea with about 50% lapsang souchong mixed in and it is a lovely sweet-savory woodsmoke experience. Would recommend.
Flavors: Anise, Apple, Cocoa, Nutty, Orange Zest, Pepper, Smoke