evening tea because this was all i wanted tonight with a splash of maple syrup. SO. Good. Just the right balance of smoke and deliciousness for me nom nom nom nom nom
“evening tea because this was all i wanted tonight with a splash of maple syrup. SO. Good. Just the right balance of smoke and deliciousness for me nom nom nom nom nom” Read full tasting note
“Tony took me out for my Birthday dinner tonight. We went to the same fancy restaurant as last year, the kind of place where if you order a steak, you get a fillet that is roughly 2 inches in each...” Read full tasting note
“I got a Google+ message from Eric: "What...look...the leaves are HUGE!" with a picture attached showing the Zheng Shan Ziao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black tea by Verdant (say that 3 times fast!). I...” Read full tasting note
“I had to come back just to talk about this tea. I received a small sample in the tea of the month box and I got really excited. Those of you who know my review history know that Upton Tea's...” Read full tasting note
Beautifully balanced, delicate and masterfully smoked, this exquisite Lapsang Souchong style smoked Wuyi black tea is one of the finest we’ve ever found. It is crafted with care by the Li family, growing their tea in the Wuyi mountains in Xing Village. The Li family devotes most of their harvest to fine Wuyi oolongs, honing the difficult craft of rolling and roasting, so it’s no wonder the floral and delicate qualities of fine oolong comes through in this Lapsang Souchong. Anyone who enjoys roasted oolong or chocolatey black teas will love this unique offering.
The aroma of the leaf has fresh pine sap and notes frankincense resin from the pine needle smoking process. Intriguingly, a nuanced saltiness comes through to compliment the woody aromas, much like the saltiness of fine Japanese incense. While many Lapsang Souchong teas assault the nose with their intensity, this tea offers a more mature and subtle experience.
The flavor is warm and cozy with chocolate and cream, and it’s aroma evokes a hot cedar sauna or wine-soaked oak barrels, aging in a wine cellar. Fruity dark floral notes shine in the aftertaste as marigold and sumac. These sweet and tart florals are actually strengthened by the light, delicate smokiness of the tea. The pine smoke flavors bring out the signature mineral notes of Wuyi tea, and push forward a beautiful hot chocolate taste that lingers on.
This tea steeps out for many infusions, yielding a refined and clean tea more vaporously musty than smokey, with the sweet and salty kick of brown sugar. We highly recommend trying this tea, as it opens up a whole new way of thinking about smoked teas, and offers a gorgeous perspective on the terroir of the Wuyi mountains.
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Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Organic BlackTao Tea Leaf
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongDobra Tea
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongCamellia Sinensis
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongUnknown
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongYezi Tea
Zheng Shan Xiao ZhongRed Leaf Tea
Tony took me out for my Birthday dinner tonight. We went to the same fancy restaurant as last year, the kind of place where if you order a steak, you get a fillet that is roughly 2 inches in each direction, with a velvety sauce, & the side of veggies are really more like a garnish. It’s not a great amount of food, just enough so that I’m hungrier when I get home than I was when we got to the restaurant, but every bite is the best tasting, most succulent, tender meal you’ve ever had.
Earlier this evening, while I was waiting for Tony to come pick me up to go to dinner, I enjoyed this tea, steeping 1 TB + 8oz X 3min/resteep 5min.
This tea is so satisfying, really just perfect.
I got a Google+ message from Eric:
“What…look…the leaves are HUGE!” with a picture attached showing the Zheng Shan Ziao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black tea by Verdant (say that 3 times fast!).
I answered back,
“OK Eric, I’ll pick some up as soon as David Duckler makes it available on the Verdant website…”, which I did immediately.
Then, I got sick right after the tea arrived. Bah!
As soon as I was well enough to drive, I picked myself up and off I went with my one ounce of precious tea booty. (I also have a small amount of puerh aged in a brandy barrel from Oregon, a gift from Eric to try that’s amazing…but that’s another story)
This tasting was met with great anticipation by Eric, Joe, Andy, Sam and owner George.
After much swooning over the aroma of the leaves…(a light smoky, sweetness)…Joe deftly worked gongfu magic, pouring amber liquor into many tiny tasting cups.
The wet leaves smelled like bbq that had been marinated in a rich jammy Paso Robles Zinfindel. The scent was floral…right in the middle of all that meaty, sour ripeness.
Eric tasted the tea first.
“Ah, this is what a lapsang should taste like when it’s done right. It’s what I’ve heard about but never tasted. I could drink this every day!”
I took my time…and a sip.
Light smoke, almost not there but salty next to sweet vanilla (Eric said that’s from the pine) and camphor. Floral aroma and very light smoke. Smooth. Layered and complex. Cocoa…
I don’t think one tasting can honor such a tea, time is needed.
Everyone raved…yes…raved about the tea.
The smoked tea’s most of us are used to drinking are far different from a superior craft tea such as this one.
My highest rating goes to this Lapsang Souchong.
In my opinion it is the example…the standard, of what a smoked tea should and can be.
I had to come back just to talk about this tea.
I received a small sample in the tea of the month box and I got really excited. Those of you who know my review history know that Upton Tea’s “black dragon” is one of my “gotta have it on the shelf at all times” daily drinking teas. I rave about black dragon because it is a strong, powerful lapsang that doesn’t make you think of pork rinds or bacon or any other kind of meat product. It isn’t greasy or salty or sharp, or whatever it is that makes a lot of people think of cured meat when they smell it. But, at the end of the day, black dragon is still a very smokey tea.
But this… this tea is a whole other universe.
I opened the sample pack and thought … 4H fair. The smell of feed hay in a hot, close barn. Those pellets you can get from the candy vending machine to feed the animals at a petting zoo.
The wet leaf? Oh man.
The wet leaf is like drinking the zoo. Seriously.
Do you want to feel six years old, with a balloon on your wrist and the sounds of exotic birds in your ears, arguing about whether to go to the monkey house or the big cat exhibit? Drink this tea.
Do you want to remember what it felt like to hug a sheep that hadn’t been shorn in a long, long time? Drink this tea.
I don’t see this tea replacing anyone’s beloved lapsang or caravan tea. It’s too different. It doesn’t fill the same gap in the line-up, I don’t think.
But it is a marvelously transcendent, nuanced, delightful tea. You must try it. You absolutely must, no matter how much you think you don’t like smoked tea. Try this one.
I’m just glad I have a well seasoned lapsang yixing to do this tea justice with.