I’m not a huge fan of overly smoky teas, and really, Lapsang Souchong is SMOKY. I can’t think of one that is smokier. I know that a lot of people out there dig that sort of thing, I just don’t. There was a time when I couldn’t stand it at all, I couldn’t even have Lapsang Souchong in my house because the smell was just so obtrusive and horrendous.
I have since come to learn the best ways for me to brew a Lapsang Souchong so that I can enjoy this tea. Not just be able to consume it without complaint … but actually enjoy it. I find that the key is to first “rinse” or reawaken the leaves for a 15 second brew, and then toss the brewed liquid and then start steeping. Steep for not longer than 3 minutes. And this usually produces a brew that is smoky, yes … but I’m no longer feeling like I’m drinking out of an ashtray. I even find myself enjoying the notes of smoke and the delicious caramel-y notes underneath that strong smoky presence.
And this one has a really lovely caramel-y note and I love how the caramel and the smoke meld together. It’s quite magical. Hearty and well-rounded. Not quite as hearty as I was expecting given the description of the tea, beyond that smoky note it’s not as robust as an Assam. It’s got a lighter body than my typical first cuppa for the day.
But the lighter body allows me to explore the layers of flavor. Notes of plum (like charred fruit!) and perhaps some nectarine. Notes of pine, woodsy and smoky.