I’m still desperately trying to get back in the swing of posting reviews on a more regular basis. Obviously, I am not making much progress in that regard. With that in mind, this was a tea I finished back around the third week in October. I generally like smoked lapsang souchong as a morning and/or afternoon tea when fall weather starts to set in, and after rediscovering this tea in one of my storage totes, I immediately put it on my monthly drinking schedule. Even though it had a little age on it when I got around to trying it, it had held up amazingly well in storage. If anything, the significant rest period I subjected this tea to actually improved it; the smoke and pine tar characteristics teas like this so frequently present had mellowed somewhat, allowing a host of other aroma and flavor components to express themselves clearly.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of pine tar, pine smoke, cedar, and char. After the rinse, I detected stronger pine smoke, pine tar, and char aromas as well as subtle scents of malt and coffee. The first infusion then introduced a hint of cinnamon to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of pine smoke, pine tar, char, cedar, and coffee that were balanced by more delicate impressions of cream, malt, roasted barley, and vanilla. There was also a little bit of vague vegetal character present in the aftertaste. The subsequent infusions did not see the tea’s bouquet change all that much. I was able to pick out some hints of cooked green beans, but otherwise, that was it. Stronger coffee and roasted barley notes appeared in the mouth alongside mineral and caramel impressions. There were also some hints of cinnamon, brown sugar, grass, and cooked green beans, though that last note gradually grew a little stronger. By the end of the session, I was still picking up notes of minerals, malt, cream, and cooked green beans that were underscored by hints of cedar and pine smoke.
This was a lovely Taiwanese lapsang souchong, but I honestly would not recommend gongfuing it unless those of you who still have some of this tea absolutely have to try it that way. In my opinion, teas like this were not really intended for gongfu; the amount of broken leaf material in teas such as this makes for very messy brewing and a rapidly fading tea liquor. Fortunately, I also tried brewing this tea in the Western style, and the result was amazing. I was even able to pick up all of the same impressions I got from the gongfu session. Overall, this was a great Taiwanese tarry lapsang souchong. If you are a fan of smoked black teas and have the opportunity to procure some of this tea, definitely acquire some of it. I highly doubt it will disappoint.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Grass, Green Beans, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Tar, Vanilla