As I related in my notes for Milk Chocolate Caramel, the Smokey Mountain sTEAp sample made its presence known immediately upon opening the envelope. I waited several days to try each tea, but couldn’t resist giving this one an occasional sniff; it smelled SO good! After a few days the strong smokey smell subsided somewhat (sorry about the blatant alliteration… well… no, not really…), but the tea still smelled wonderful.
First steep (3 minutes): Odor still lovely campfire smokey, but not overpoweringly so. Taste has a bit of astringency (bitterness?), but it’s not unpleasant. Perhaps I should have given it a rinse, or perhaps it’s just the chicory. I generally like the odor of Lapsang Souchong better than the taste, but can’t recall ever having tried it in a blend. (I’ve lived a sheltered tea life.) This has a good, comforting taste; nicer and definitely more interesting than the straight Lapsang Souchongs I’ve had previously.
Second steep (4 minutes): I’ve never sweetened this type of tea, but while waiting for my kettle to reheat I idly took a sniff of the wet tea leaves in my infuser and was surprised to note some sweetness, so I decided to experiment and added a wee bit of stevia to my second cup in the hope that it might bring out some of the vanilla and/or cocoa. This resulted in a sweeter smokey taste, but the smoke still dominated (which is fine, as that’s what I love about LS tea!). I might add that it tasted suprisingly good with a bit of sweetener; something I would have doubted.
In conclusion, I can honestly say I liked this a lot and it’s going on my Shopping List. (I just received a sample order of Russian Caravan from another company expecting it to be mainly Lapsang Souchong but, to my disappointment, it contains not even a hint of smokiness. I can see I have a lot to learn about tea.)