Oh wow. Oh my. How do I even begin to describe the experience of trying lapsang souchong for the first time?
It’s the type of tea about which I was intensely curious, but intensely afraid of trying. I don’t really know why I was afraid – the worst that could happen is that I didn’t like it and moved on.
I needn’t have worried.
The first thing one notices about the tea upon getting it ready to steep, is the intense smell. Smokey, like a barbecue, but without the acrid edge one might expect from something burning. I can imagine why some note that it’s a good tea for cooking. I would probably use this when making some sort of ham soup.
I have to say that it smells lovely, but it was still intimidating to drink. I didn’t necessarily feel like ingesting a barbecue, taste-wise. However, the taste is quite distinct from the smell. Yes, it is smokey, but the over-all flavour is smooth. Maybe a little peppery towards the tail-end. The after-taste is pleasantly smokey, like a satisfying drag from a barbecue hookah.
I’m not skilled enough at tea-drinking yet to identify distinct elements, so the best way I can describe it is that it’s evocative of a good smoked food, say gouda or ham, while still managing to taste distinctly like tea. It’s a soothingly full taste that lingers even after one is done drinking.
I’m not 100% certain I brewed it correctly. I will admit that there was a definite bite in the back of my throat with the first cup, and then it was definitely on the under brewed side for the second and third cup. Not the tea’s fault. Just learning curve on my part.
As an amusing anecdote – apparently now my breath smells like wood.
At any rate, this is a tea that I will definitely be drinking a lot more often. I’m glad I bought this sample.