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8 Tasting Notes

100

Bar none, this is the best Lapsang Souchong I have ever tasted. It’s so smooth on the palate, even after a long steep, but the scent…oh, the scent. It’s just gorgeous. It’s like sitting by a crackling fire in Autumn. The color is rich but not too dark. It steeps beautifully in about two minutes, and it gives a solid second cup (as good as other brands’ first cup).

I’d think twice before taking it to work, though. Invariably, someone thinks they smell smoke (so far, no alarms pulled), or it induces the need for an exodus to the local BBQ joint for lunch!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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34
drank Kashmiri Chai by Tealuxe
8 tasting notes

Of the several chai teas sold by Tealuxe, this is probably my favorite, but that’s not the ringing endorsement you might think. I like my chai punchy, and though this one was balanced beautifully, and definitely had a cardamon top note, it left me feeling a bit flat. Honestly, it reminded me of Oregon Chai without the extra hit of vanilla.

It bears a long steep and comes out with more up front spiciness without getting bitter. But it doesn’t do well for a second steep in that case.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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34
drank Masala Chai by Teavana
8 tasting notes

Have they changed it recently? The quality of the tea leaf looks wrong, as if it’s been mechanically dehydrated rather than dried, and it’s not as spicy as I recall. In fact, I added in my own spices to get it up to par so I could finish it off.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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31

I have guests who love this, and I bought it on a recommendation, but I won’t be repeating it. I love a strong cup of tea, but this is just bitter in the extreme. It looked like a bag full of leavings (I’ve yet to see the full leaf version I’ve heard about). It brews in a snap, I’ll give it that, but as has already been noted, it goes from full to bitter far too quickly. Too much up front tannin, strips my mouth, even with milk. I’ve tried lower water temperatures, filtered water, etc… but I just can’t make a cup that achieves the aura this tea seems to possess.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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67

I was pleasantly surprised by this tea. As another taster noted, it’s a great balance between cost and quality. It tolerates accidental overbrewing quite nicely, so I frequently choose it when brewing while getting ready for work (when I’m easily distracted and forget to push the plunger in time!). Similar to an English Breakfast but without some of the woody, forward notes. Gentler tannins. Great with a bit of milk and sugar, and quite amenable to a second brew off the leaves.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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81

One of my “go to” teas, especially during the winter months. I love blending this with a bit of Teavana’s Rooibos Chai. I love the flavor but feel it lacks some backbone, and the Rooibos corrects that. I usually do about 1/3 Chai to 2/3 Zingiber. I’ve also taken to doing a second steep off the leaves, even though Teavana claims this one isn’t good for a rebrew. No, the overall tastes aren’t as strong, especially the coconut, but the ginger comes forward on the second steep.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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58
drank English Breakfast by PG Tips
8 tasting notes

Be careful when brewing this. I love a strong cuppa, and Tips fits that bill, but it goes from strong to bitter in just moments. As bagged tea goes, its one of my favorites, but how much of that is really quality of tea and how much is nostalgia, I’ve yet to decide (I discovered it on my first trip to England).

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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94

Lapsang Souchong is comfort tea for me, so I was thrilled to find Teavana carrying a solid version at a reasonable price. I’m also quite peeved that it’s been discontinued. It’s rather hard to find locally without getting robbed or getting something subpar.

Theirs has the right balance of smoky scent but smooth drinking. I tend to prefer it steeped longer than they suggest, but that’s because I like a strong cuppa. I have yet to wind up with a bitter brew. I always have it with a smidgen of sweetener, preferably something brown and earthy to complement the smoky scent, and a splash of milk. Take it easy on the extras, though, or you will overwhelm the tea’s natural flavor.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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