So I’m new to teas that aren’t bagged Twinnings or something similar. I’ve grown up on standard English and Irish Breakfasts (especially the latter), with a bit of the Earl now and again. Of course I’ve had my experiences with Chai, Green, White, Mate, etc., but typical British blends in teabags is what I know. Saying this was a new experience would be a major understatement.

The smell emanating from the bag was something I simply wasn’t prepared for. I had seen Lapsang Souchong advertised as smokey, but I had no idea. It’s a cross between a snuffed out campfire and the remains of a burnt building. I can easily see this being off putting to some, but I really enjoy it. It took me awhile to place what the smell reminded me of, but I finally nailed it. Anyone who grew up with a firefighter and remembers them coming home after a run knows that smell well.

Now this is one of Empire’s Micro Blend teas, and they state that one heaped teaspoon will make a full pot of tea (32 oz) of tea. I like a stronger tea, so I used one teaspoon for one 16 oz cup. As expected, after steeping I was left with a nice dark liquid that put off a scent only slightly subdued from the bag. I normally take my black teas with a splash of milk and sugar, but I’ve decided that I’ll try a cup of all of my teas straight before reverting to what’s comfortable. The expected smokiness is immediate and unlike anything I’ve ever drank. Somehow this entire time I’d convinced myself that the flavor wouldn’t be able to match up to the strength of the scent. I have no trouble admitting that I was wrong. What’s far more surprising is the smoothness that underlies the whole affair. The smoke refuses to be ignored, but there’s a slight sweetness that sneaks in behind it, coyly hanging on to it’s coattails.

This is something I wish I would have had in the winter. Tomorrow (well later today at this point), I’ll be trying this again, but with a bit of milk and sugar. I think the next brew I’ll slightly reduce the amount of tea as well. While I really enjoyed it, it was just a bit strong.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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