Not going to rate this now. I’m going to sit down with a cup of it next to a cup of GM’s lapsang souchong a little bit later and see which comes out on top, because it has been long enough that I’m debating with myself here. Plus…I’m eating this alongside my lunch of Singapore street noodles, which is obviously a strong enough dish to make this more for my own reference than anything else.
The primary difference between this lapsang souchong and the GM version I have is that this one seems to be far more intense in the ‘ash’ or smoke portion of the flavor than the other. Once the cup was brewed, I was surprised at how light it was in color (keep in mind that I choose to brew Samovar’s blacks at two teaspoons for 16 oz. versus the tablespoon that they recommend, just because this is the amount to which I’ve become accustomed with most teas, and usually the saturation of flavor is more than enough for me). The scent was…strong. Strong enough that the smoke aspect was acrid and slightly sharp, and gave me a creeping sensation of scratchy throat. I won’t say that it was unbearable, but I didn’t find it particularly pleasant. The taste seemed to be more mild than GM’s, and less sweet. I enjoy the mildness, but I miss the sweetness.
The good news?
Adding a little bit of fat free half and half completely eliminated the very ashy, sharp-smoke quality from both the flavor and the smell, and resulted in a more mild, balanced, and extremely pleasant cup of campfire tea. It’s the perfect accompaniment to my noodles, and I’m looking forward to having it when my palate is more sensitive so that I can really explore the nuances, because I feel like the flavor of this one has some unlockable depth.