Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Nina's Teas USA, Lapsang Souchong
A Black tea from the Chinese province of Fujian. The tea leaves are dried over the smoke of pine fires to give a rich, distinctive smoky flavour which accompanies savoury or spicy flavours perfectly.
Sample provided by Nina's Teas USA for review:
Lapsang Souchong. Possibly the most divisive cuppa known in the land of tea. Only sipping puerh could possibly result in a wider range of opinions. As it says above the leaf is smoked over pine fire. The smoke can run the range from light and sweet to BBQ'd pork, and on to ashes.
My experience is limited to only a handful of tastings. In that handful I have experienced the full range of smoke. I have no idea what to expect today. Opening the sample and inhaling reveals heavy sweet smoke.
I steeped this for three minutes with 200F water in my press. The room seemed filled with the aromatic pine smoke.
First sip, and all I can think is Nina's you have completely surprised me. I have reviewed several samples. They have all been exceptional and elegant. Nina's teas are like a sophisticated lady. One that turns heads but commands respect without demanding it. This tea is totally another side of the lady that shocks and delights but still never causes you to lose the respect.
This cup is perhaps the heaviest smoked Lapsang Souchong I have tasted but it is not ashes. This is fully developed sweet pine smoke. It actually tastes like pine to me. It is sweet without the bacon or pork BBQ notes. While it is heavy it has layers of taste as you sip.
One more mention - I was concerned this tea would be overpowered by my lunch. I knew I should not review a new tea with a spicy lunch but that is just how it worked out today. I had a salad bowl of greens with banana peppers, provolone, chicken, and chipotle ranch dressing. I forgot all about the spicy flavors in the bowl after the first sip. This tea strangely cleansed my palate. If you are having an overpowering lunch and are not sure what can stand up to it without clashing, I think I just found it.
Cup two was prepared the next day. I couldn't help myself. As I approached my den the pine smoke grabbed my full attention. This cup is every bit as full of layers of smoky pleasure as the first. Now it slightly reminds me of bacon. Excellent cup especially considering the gap between first and second.
Cup three is lighter but still plenty of delightful flavor.
Nina's Paris has been blending masterful fragrances for 300 years. They have brought this mastery to their USA tea line. You can currently find their offerings on Amazon. They plan to open an ecommerce webstore at ninasteastore.