Never thought I’d be wishing I bought a larger quantity of Lapsang. This is utterly incomparable to any tea bearing the same name that I have ever seen, tasted, or even heard of.
First, and foremost – it is not smoky. There are light whiffs of toasted marshmallows, wheat bread just finishing cooking in an oven, or a very hot smokeless oak fire oven/grill, but really it is more about the light “smokiness” of tobacco leaves and milled grains. Pay little heed to the company description of “strong and smoky”!
While this is not a pure bud tea (two leaf and a bud intact sets are common throughout) it is entirely covered in light golden hair. Leaf length and color is very similar to a pure bud Yunnan red. Measuring the 4g I used for my gaiwan resulted in a volume around 1.5-2 tablespoons. Used 125ml with steep times-temps: 1.5min-95C, 2.5min-95C, 4min-90C, 5min-85C, 5min-100C, 9.5min-85C.
Dry fragrance is similar to the Golden Monkey reds I’ve been going through a lot lately – dried apricot and nectarine – but when tossed into the prewarmed gaiwan, the fragrance was straight up natural cocoa powder. Wet leaves like doused, burned hardwood – not smoky, but toasty with a refreshing light char note oddly reminiscent of grilled Tilapia (not fishy, mind you) and indiscernible fruit “ripeness”. The lid from the gaiwan, however combined a touch of the former cocoa with piles of ripe fruit aromas. Kumquat above the rest, but also white peach, uncut nectarine, longan, intact raspberries, black figs, apricot kiwi, and just a hint of avocado and coconut. These carry through in the liquor aroma but longan takes the stage. Liquor is bright red-orange and very clear.
Flavor takes the fruit notes and blends them nicely with roasted nuts – almonds and macadamias primarily, but chestnut, cashew, brazil nut, pecan, and peanut also play a small part. The taste is a base of woody characteristics – brown rice, sesame seed, dried grasses, barley, oak, sunflower seeds and palms. Aftertaste brings in a mineral quality of adobe clay or mud bricks and a bit of gravel in the afteraroma. Not heavy on the minerals, but it certainly draws up similarities to other WuYi Shan teas. Nice heavier-medium body is much thicker than most Lapsangs, on par with heavier Keemuns. Smoooooooth. Mouthfeel again makes me think of clay in a sort of slip-slurry. There’s a very slight astringency just up against the uvula… Don’t think I’ve had a tea that hits that part of the mouth and nowhere else. Fleeting crispness and faint herbaceous acidity leaves a mouthwatering effect, but not a ton. Really clean – - aftertaste diminishes really quickly and afteraroma is short. impression of the tactile elements lingers for a while, though.
Man, this is yummy. Definitely getting more the next chance I can make the excuse. Expensive, but oh so worth it. I brewed this up with the intent of something to kick me awake, but it wound up being comforting and satisfying, making me want to curl up and take a nap. I finished long before the tea did and this would be a great candidate to drink straight from the gaiwan with. Again, you can not compare this to other Lapsangs – this is much more akin to specialty Taiwanese Reds.