Lapsang souchong in the house!
Oh yes! I don’t even know the last time we had an LS in the house, but it has definitely been quite a while. A looooong time. So when I was buying tea for the boss and me at work anyway, I decided to stock up since it was from the same shop. Husband agreed with my assessment that this was a necessity and therefore not a frivolous purchase. So 200g of LS and 200g of two other favourite fruity teas. That should last us a while, and I’m sure you will all agree with me that this was hardly excessive. Nothing new, only old favourites. Unfortunately we are still living in the Age of Frugality. (Although there are good omens regarding the Age of Frivolity at the moment. Well. Better omens than before, anyway. We’re keeping everything crossed here.)
So I’m having the first cup of my Perfect LS in a longer time than I can remember. It’s like an old friend come home and it beats the Lapsang Bohea Husband and I drank at the meeting with Roughage yesterday by several horse lengths. Not that there was anything wrong with that one. It just wasn’t this one.
Actually, while we were there, Husband asked me what the difference was between a lapsang souchong and a lapsang bohea. My initial reply was something along the lines of, “uuuuuhh…”
Eventually I came up with an educated guess that it probably had something to do with the leaf grade as I know souchong refers to the rougher older leaves on the bush. I figured it was possible that the bohea would have been made using younger leaves.
Turns out I was completely wrong in my guess, but the basis for it wasn’t far off.
Regular old LS does use the older leaves (unless otherwise stated, of course), but bohea refers to the Wuyi mountains where the type originates. For this reason lapsang bohea is often more expensive because the growing area is so small and the demand is growing.
So while many do consider bohea superior to any old lapsang (and it probably is too), it’s not really anything to do with leaf grade as such.
So there you see, Steepsterites! The sort of trouble you can get yourself into when you think you’re smart.
After steeping fail on both teas I’ve had today, one of which I’ve documented, I just needed a proper cup of tea. One that can’t go wrong. I had a funny feeling that it was a specific one I wanted but it wasn’t until I saw the tin that I knew which one it was.
It’s funny with this one. When I was first introduced to lapsang souchong, I thought it was a really harsh and rough sort of flavour with smoke all over the place.
Now, the more I drink it, the milder it seems to become. The aroma is still the same. All rough and tough and smoke and manly. But the taste seems to have smoothed out for me.
If I pay attention and seek it out the smokyness is there in spades. But it seems to be a bit shy. If I don’t speak to it first, it doesn’t speak to me. The rest of the tea seems surprisingly smooth and mellow and with a round sort of feeling to it, as if I had added milk. I haven’t actually added anything, and I’ve only used the cup for the white pomegranate earlier today and rinsed it out in between.
You all remember my black powder blend, the one I recently bought a huge amount of. I’ve filled my tin at work with that so I have a good amount of that four days a week. It has lapsang souchong in it, the smokyness of which I think is part of the reason for the name of the blend, so could it be that I’m getting so conditioned to lapsang now that I’m having this experience of it?
The first time I had lapsang souchong, after I had first got into the black powder blend, I found it strangely lacking. Watered down. I was expecting the fuller flavour of the blend, not just one of the ingredients in it. I was afraid lapsang souchong as a plain tea had been ruined for me forever. I’m pleased to say that this is definitely not the case, as what I’ve got here tonight is an extraordinarily pleasant cup of tea.
I’ll be of traversing the Wild Abroads in a few hours. I thought something strong and heartening would be in order.
Well, I say strong, but this isn’t really a strong tea, is it? It’s just the smoke that gives it the illusion of being strong. It looks, smells and sounds like a lion but underneath the smoke, it’s sweet as a fluffy kitten that likes to get its tummy rubbed.
In a moment of distracted lazyness, the water cooled off a little before I poured it on. It’s beginning to seem to me like no matter what the literature says, a large group of blacks, particularly chinese and flavoured, perform best in not quite boiling water.
Right here, what I’ve got is a mouthful of smoke and underneath a touch of caramel-y sweetness. Soft and smooth as velvet. Perfect.
Right. I’ll go and start finishing getting ready. I don’t know if I’ll have computer access much while I’m away, but I’ll return on the 18th, so I’ll see you all then. (and yes, there will indeed be an extensive trip report available upon my return)
Wait a minute…
Can it really be…?
YES!!! IT’S THE ELUSIVE SWEET NOTE! I’M NOT CRAZY!
Pamela Dax Dean sent me a box of tea. A massive box of tea. And when I say ‘massive’ I mean ‘enourmous’! Like… HUGE!
In other words, I had 68 items in my Steepster cupboard. When I’m done adding all this stuff, I expect it’s probably doubled. Or nearly so anyway. I don’t think my Bits’n’Bops Basket is big enough anymore, it was fairly full as it was.
So, I’m adding stuff now. Given all this new stuff, I probably ought to have made some of it, but I really need something familiar and fortifying while sorting.
Disclaimer At this point let me just say that I officially give up trying to keep track of who sent me what. I know I still have stuff that Jillian and Wombatgirl specifically sent me and some stuff from some of you others as well, but I don’t have the brain capacity to keep track of where this much stuff came from. Forgive me.
Right. Back to work…
EDIT This is NOT the TTB.
And that was 57 new items.
I slept in until nearly 11am today and now two hours later I’m still feeling rather groggy and unable to get my head in gear.
Therefore I picked a tea that can deliver one of the strongest kicks in the rear that I know of. A smoky. And I used a little extra leaf.
The consequence of this is the feeling that there should be smoke coming out of my mouth when I exhale after a sip. It’s super-duper-prickly today.
Underneath that the sweet fruity base of the flavour is thick and strong.
If this doesn’t get me up and going, nothing will.
It would appear that overnight I’ve gone off smokies completely.
In the future I’ll only drink herbal infusions. Preferably with tons of hibiscus in it.
::Stares at cup::
Sugar? O.o I did not add anything to this cup, where did that come from? In a lapsang?
::sips again several times::
Yes, there is an undeniable sweet note there. I didn’t brew it differently or anything. Weird. It wasn’t there before, I could have sworn! Or was it, and I didn’t notice?
I’M SO CONFUUUUUUSED!!!
(I’m also a bit over-tired at this point just in case you hadn’t guessed.)
ETA: Also, I did not ask for that bit to be in italics, what’s going on? O.o
ETA again: Evidently you can also make italics by use of double ?s…
Oh my Steepster account, I hearts you like air. And like tea. And like my LJ account. Which says a LOT. You inspire me to do experiments with long forgotten samples like today, which is loads of fun, even when largely unsuccessful in finding undiscovered diamonds. And on top of that I get to babble about each one at length which makes it even more fun. Never leave me.
Right, so I’ve made an emergency pot of Lapsang Souchong. I need it on top of all this experimenting. Especially that last one there which I think must have been the worst of the lot. (Especially because it could have been avoided if I had not stupidly decided reading the info on the package regarding contents was unnecessary)
This is a stable. This is always a great cup of tea. Smokey and rough and JUST right. Enough experiments for me. I’ll stick to this for the rest of the evening.
Good morning Steepsterites.
This tea was literally calling out to me this morning.
“Aaaang!” it said. “I feel sooo negleeected! Whyyy don’t you driiink me any mooore?”
Poor little Lapsang! Just sitting there in the tin being all lonely and unloved. :´(
I can’t have that, can I? So I made a cup, and I made it extra strength too.
The aroma is all smoke and campfire and coniferous trees. There’s a sweet, surprisingly fruity note underneath as well.
Oh yes. The initial mouthful of smoke. The finish of pure sugar (note that I haven’t actually added anything to the cup. I almost never use additives and when I do I say so). Not even the slightest hint of astringency or bitterness or anything in spite of the fact that I used about a third more leaf than I normally would have. It’s just remarkably smooth on the middle.
I’m coming quite close to deciding on this one for my Perfect Lapsang. TeaSpring do carry some awesome LS and they’re fun to try. But this is what I’ll come back to. It’s awesome, it can totally measure up to TeaSpring’s LSs in my book, and it’s somewhat more cheaper only having to travel from Copenhagen to me and not all the way from China. (Even if I do think it’s a little bit fun to get mail from China)
Oh my little nomsang souchong! Please forgive me for straying!
I’ve made a tough decision about a few samples I had lying around this morning. I didn’t like them much and I wasn’t likely to ever get around to finishing them off. So I finally got rid of them. It was a hard decision but it felt good and freeing to do it.
I need something to pick me up again after this, and as I have this morning caught up with the follow list, I’m letting myself be inspired by those who had smokies lately. I had almost forgotten I had this nice little Lapsang in my possession and when I opened the tin and saw how full it was I went O.O and then :D
Yummm the smoke fills my nostrils and make them prickle almost as if I was about to sneeze and the aftertaste lingers in my mouth as if I’ve just bitten burnt toast. And yes, these are good qualities.
This newer steeping pattern of mine has brought out the sweet note a little more, I think. There is also a smoothness underneath the smoky prickly that wasn’t as pronounced before. At least not that I remember.
It’s just right.
Chi of Tea and their coupons are totally leading me astray! Was that a paypal button? Oh OOPS! :D
This is bad, because finances are a wee bit tight this month, but I’m staying within my weekly allowance, so I can justify it to myself like that. And also the fact that I could have placed a twice as large order, but decided to save some of it for later.
Clearly this calls for a cup of tea, something that feels thrifty, which means we’re delving into the Standard Panel. Smoky is good. Very smoky is very good. Hello Lapsang!
I’ve used plenty of leaf this morning. Plenty. Because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. Luckily my average steep times are so short that it doesn’t really seem to have made a difference. It’s a little smokier than average but underneath all the smoke there’s plenty of the fruity sweetness.
I’ve had a Lapsang from TeaSpring, which is otherwise a wonderful company, I think, when it comes to chinese teas, and that one didn’t really develop that fruit note until the second steep. I think that’s why I prefer the Perch’s Lapsang over that one. I like that note. And I don’t want to wait for a whole new steep to get it. And I definitely don’t want to steep twice routinely to get one cup of tea. The super-smokyness of the TeaSpring one has other wonderful qualities, of course, like it’s a good one to turn to when in the mood for something seriously smoky, but it’s just not quite enough to make up for the subdued sweet note that I would say it was a better Lapsang than this one.
This one is perfectly balanced between smoky notes and substance for me.
(It’s significantly cheaper as well, which totally doesn’t hurt!)
Once upon a time I found a very sweet note in this tea. As if sugar had been added to it when I hadn’t actually put anything in it at all. I’ve been trying to find that sweetness again, but I just can’t. I feel a bit like Sophistre in the quest for caramel notes in her Jackee Muntz from Andrews & Dunham. Only not yet as frustrated with the lack of success.
Keyword here is “yet”.
How the heck did I do that?
I do hope I’ll figure it out. I know it’s there. I know I didn’t dream it up. I’ll just have to play with temperature and steeping time a little more. I’m beginning to suspect the secret lies in the temperature, because altering the steeping time hasn’t really yielded any results. Or, actually, that’s not true, there has been some results. A fair number of yummy cups, yes. Sweet notes, no.
If the temperature is indeed the key to this puzzle, then I guess I’ll have to invest in a thermometer of some kind. Just… counts money Not right now.
In the meantime, I can bypass the frustrating hunt for sweet notes. Yes, I know this pinch of cane sugar is cheating, but it gives me (almost) what I want without the hassle. So sue me.