Lapsang Souchong Black Dragon (ZS90)

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Black Tea
Lapsang Souchong
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Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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65 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Had this this morning using the ForLife mug I'd bought my mom as a gift (since replacement teapot has yet to arrive). I think that my tea mojo is slowly making a comeback. There's still a ton of...” Read full tasting note
    Rabs 361 tasting notes
  • “BIG storm coming. Pushing Summer out, and bringing what little of Autumn we will see riding in the wake. Time to ride the dragon.” Read full tasting note
    jimmarks 325 tasting notes
  • “Thank heavens! Youngest had finished her lapsangs on Friday. How on earth could she do geometry without it? As it happened, we went in a different order today so this very generous sample from...” Read full tasting note
    ashmanra 1856 tasting notes
  • “I got my Upton order today!!! Super quick shipping also which was nice. I put a sample of this in with my order and I am excited to try it. In fact, this is the first tea I'm trying from my order....” Read full tasting note
    mrawlins2 1015 tasting notes

From Upton Tea Imports

This is a Lapsang Souchong. It is a fairly light one for this type, with sweetness under the smoke. Not overly smokey, a good place to start for the novice to Lapsangs

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65 Tasting Notes

136 tasting notes

I’ve had this sample since early March, and the smell of the dry leaves have scared me from testing. I’m not a fan of smoky flavors generally, and this smells like you’ve been hanging downwind from a roaring campfire … that smell that gets into your clothes and won’t go away. Once this smelled like it was mixed with barbecue sauce, but not today. I’ve already told my son that he is getting this sample without me testing (he shares his father’s tastebuds more than mine, lol). But reading Amy’s review last night, and Jen mentioning marshmallow, well, what can it hurt? This is supposed to be a Lansang Souchong beginner tea afterall (can you tell I’m talking myself into sipping?)

The brewed aroma shares that same smoky aroma … with a little rubber mixed in? (oh boy, must sip……….) Oh phew, no burning tires upon first sip. Hmmm hmmm (ponders).

I did add honey (yes, wimpy), so it is on the sweet side. And I do get a hint of the smoke, similar to the campfire association. As I let that linger, I’m concluding that the smoke isn’t all that evil, like I thought it would be. Ha, maybe this tea would be good to have with a charbroiled steak (mmmmmm) <<< but I don’t indulge in that often. The taste is actually not that bad. Maybe if I try not to sniff it, when cup comes to lips, it would be better to my senses. Yep, lol, that bumps it almost…almost very good.

Growing up, most family vacations involved fishing trips (Dad’s choice), which meant camping trips to surrounding states and mostly Canada (in search of Walleye). This tea invokes those memories.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Yay! Good for you… it really wasn’t that bad, huh? ;-)


Hehe, nope. Thanks for the push : )


And they get easier to drink, too. I still only crave a smokey tea like this one about every two weeks.

Ah, the quest for walleye. We lived in Minnesota when I was little and it seemed like we went camping and fishing every weekend (even though I know it was not that often…)


Dad got sick after we (me/ex/kids) had moved to Rochester, and after he died, my brother gave me one of his fishing poles/reels (that we kids had gifted him). That summer, we rented a boat at one of the Finger Lakes (think Conesus) and I took that pole/reel. I was the only one to catch anything, and didn’t even know what it was (we girls didn’t pay that much attention to the details, lol). After we got back, someone on the pier yells out “Hey! nice walleye!”. That was one of those “omg” moments.

Autumn Hearth

Glad you plucked up the courage. I finishe the last of this sample this evening, would have like LS to have done a few more infusions (I really really liked the later steeps te first time I tried it) but I didn’t make it past two as I was physically shakey, which is odd. I’m going to designate this as a fall and winter tea though, so I wot re-order for awhile.

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359 tasting notes

According to Jim this is an amazing tea….and after trying it I have to agree with him. My first Lapsang was the good Dr’s, which I would say has a good hardy smoke to it. This one is more subtle. At first I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it had enough smoke. Now that I am tasting it again, which it is good that I am doing my tasting note in the afternoon since my first was a morning steep, I am noticing a really good Chinese black tea with a lighter smoke to it. You can taste that good grainy, starchy, potato like flavor synonymous with a good black and yes a touch of sweetness like the description says. This makes me think I might have to revisit the Adagio sample I have that I thought was terrible. Definitely a comfort tea. Lapsang is always welcome in my book thank you Jim for good swap.

Autumn Hearth

Keep resteeping it! There is really good tea long after the smoke clears.

Jim Marks

Glad you came around!

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20 tasting notes

Big Trouble in Little Lapsang! #2 of 3

After trying this LS and reading a number of the reviews I can certainly understand the attraction for many. It combines subdued smokiness with soft classic black honeyed-malt nicely. That being said, it just didn’t do it for me. While all of the nuances coexist in amity, there just wasn’t enough of a presence from any of them to make it remarkable based on my personal preferences of a bolder Lapsang Souchong. That sounds harsh and may not seem to align with my rating but I didn’t find it unpleasant or vile. It was perfectly drinkable but regretfully forgettable.

EDIT I tried this one again with some helpful suggestions from Jim Marks and have bumped my score slightly. In a more concentrated form, the reserved subtleties become dominant and more closely represent my personal preference of a tour de force Lapsang Souchong. Still not better than another that I have tried, but I appreciate the tip and the resulting cup!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Jim Marks

Everyone’s free to have their own opinions of a tea, but I find an assessment that this tea lacks presence and is forgettable “difficult to swallow”. I’ve found that not only does this tea hold up on its own, but also that it can hold its own in a blend. So, I’m curious what your leaf weight to water volume ratio was during this four minute steep?


Jim, want to try some LS from COLORADO?


@Jim I used 2.3g to 6oz of water at the direction of the website from Upton, similar to how I followed the distributor recommended ratios from the other two I tried. That seemed to be the objective option and the easiest way to compare them according to the way their respective companies suggest steeping. Personal preference being what it is, this one just didn’t give me a reason to add it to the shopping list and buy it again although I respect your opinion and personal preference to rate this as one of your favorites. I still have roughly half of the sample I ordered though so if you have suggestions for a different ratio I would certainly give it another go with an open mind! Again, as I said in the review, I didn’t find this one to be unpalatable but in comparison to the other two I tried it was just ok for me. Granted, after several hundred tasting notes you have a much larger point of reference and if/when I try 20+ other LS and this one is still in the top 3 I reserve the right to change my score to reflect my opinion of this one in relation to the rest. (81 falls in the enjoyed it range, 90+ for me means I’d buy it again and in quantity)

Jim Marks

I certainly don’t mind that you aren’t wow’d by it. A big part of why I like it is that it is so much more subtle than most other LS. Most people seem to be in it for the pork rinds/camp fire thing and I’m really not. So, there’s no defensiveness there.

But your comment about a lack of presence surprised me. Two grams to six ounces of boiling water for four minutes is certainly going to give you everything this leaf has to offer, so I guess it is just too subtle for your taste. I prefer to say it is “refined” but that’s just my taste :-)

Since you’re open to experimentation with your remaining leaf, but that’s probably only about the same 2.5 grams…

If you could somehow steep that in as little as 3 or 4 onces of water you might get more “umph”.

But in the end, this is an LS that includes white buds in it, so what can you expect.

Bonnie, people are growing tea in Colorado?


Ah yes, LS is grown in Colorado Jim. Be serious! I would like to offer to send you some FROM Colorado (which does not mean the same thing as grown) if you truly enjoy a good LS taste comparison. I’d like to see what you think. You are welcome to any other tea samples I have also FROM Colorado.


Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll try in in my 4oz gaiwan that way tonight and let you know. Refined/reserved would be a different perspective on how to describe the presence and I’d say that’s fair.

Jim Marks

Well, Bonnie, if I was going to try to grow domestic tea, Colorado is probably where I’d go to try to grow it. One never knows. :-)


I didn’t get around to it immediately, but have now updated my rating based on Jim’s suggestion. Thanks for giving me a reason to revisit this one!

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109 tasting notes

Rating number is for straight brewed tea

Ridiculously hot for May, so more Lapsang.

I tried this today iced with soymilk to try to emulate a Thai Iced tea that I’ve had in restaurants. I never did get a container to cold brew, so I hot brewed a cup and poured over a cup with an equivalent amount of ice as the tea. Used 1 teaspoon of fresh leaves and 1 teaspoon of leaves that were on their second steep. Brewed in a about 10 ounces of water.

Added milk and a lot of sugar-2 tablespoons. I put in too much milk and the liquor was something like mother of pearl instead of a nice tan. Still, it tasted pretty good. The smoke was subdued in the sweetness in the milk and sugar, but it was there. A unique drink. Very refreshing on a hot day. Definitely want to experiment with this some more.

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15 tasting notes

Wowza. Thank you so much to SimplyJenW for sending me a sample of this! Would I not have gotten a half pound tin of Hu Kwa, I would be in quite some distress to decide which was the better Lapsang between it and this and which I should order more of. It astounds me how similarly delicious they are, balancing their smokiness with sublime smoothness, yet how unique their tastes are. Upton did right by me on this one. Definitely recommended.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

I am having the same dilemma. But since I order from Upton about every two months, the Black Dragon will probably win! Thank you for the Hu Kwa!

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104 tasting notes

Beef Jerky!

That is totally what this tea reminds me of in both taste and fragrance. One of my friends describes Lapsang Souchons thusly: “Smells like beef jerky, tastes like tires.” I have to agree with the smell part but you know, I LIKE beef jerky. Quite a lot actually! My favorite is hickory smoked with teriyaki-glazed coming in close second.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

When I saw BEEF JERKY I thought you were playing along with our Song Challenge. YEARS ago I heard a rare B-Side Recording from John & Yoko called Beef Jerky! LOL – It was mostly instrumental and in the middle of the song they were chanting…BEEF JERKYBEEF JERKYBEEF JERKY.

Ironically, I think this is funny because John Lennon was a vegetarian and so am I yet he was singing about it and I got a chuckle out of it! LOL


Is that the one that was wrapped in brown paper? I think we have that somewhere…

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74 tasting notes

Fantastic and tasty tea. Malty and smoky, this Lapsang is less smoky than the usual and comes along with this interesting backend flavour that is interesting and chill, but also has interesting Lapsang notes to it. Very nice.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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531 tasting notes

This sample is courtesy of the benevolent SimplyJenW. My very first Lapsang Souchong!

If this is Lapsang light, I don’t think I could ever drink the heavier version. After an awful experience with a smoky Keemun, I was expecting to hate this. And I was pretty confident in that expectation.

But luckily, this doesn’t taste nearly as scary as it smells. The dry leaves and brewed tea are very smoky. It is reminiscent of liquid beef jerky, as another user pointed out.

Still, I don’t think smoky teas are for me. But I would highly recommend this Lapsang to people new to Lapsangs. Thank you, SimplyJenW!

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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92 tasting notes

My first lapsang! I’ve been steeling myself for it all week, trying other smokey blends until I felt ready to try this one. The dry leaves smell like jerky – yup, I definitely get jerky. I like smoked things, so I persevered. I steeped 4 minutes and then added my usual aount of cream/sugar before trying (not brave enough to try this without!) It smells intensely smokey, but the actual taste is a little more mild. I get black pepper and a little sweetness – it’s very nice! I tried a second steeping of the leaves, but I wasn’t very impressed with the results. I’m excited to try more smokey teas!

Boiling 4 min, 15 sec

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429 tasting notes

This Lapsang Souchong is on training wheels. Its for people who aren’t sure if they like smoky or not. Its lightly smoky and a little sweetness under the smoke. The tea is very mellow and smooth and to me has a peppery finish. Its a good place to start for those who aren’t sure about smoky teas. I really like smoky so I’m happy this only a sample.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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