Monday, March 7, 2016

3 Leaf Tea, Unsmoked Lapsang Souchong

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3 Leaf Tea Description:
One of the most popular black teas outside of China, Lapsang Souchong is well known for it's distinct dark, smokey aroma. Not all Lapsang Souchongs are created equally - some are smokier than others. Our Lapsang is malty, chocolaty and smooth with a slight hint of smoke. It brews up a beautiful dark red infusion and has a rich but soft lingering aftertaste.

Sample provided by 3 Leaf Tea

My Review:
The no worries edition.

Lapsang Souchong, just the name brings a strong reaction from those who have experienced it. It generally falls in to two camps, the lovers and the haters. The lovers wax poetically of campfires and occasionally bacon or BBQ. To the haters, it's a mouth full of ashes. I'm personally a lover but recall being very much hesitant during my first few cups.

This promises to be a new experience as what we will be reviewing today is an unsmoked version. My first thought was is this a Jin Jun Mei? Upon looking and smelling I realize this is something quite different.

The leaf is dark, almost black, with some lighter brown highlights. At first the aroma is faint. Then I catch something faintly grapey that is followed by a roasted scent. After catching the roasting, I wonder how I missed it initially. It is similar to a dark roasted oolong in scent.

I used a scoop of leaf in my clear glass press along with clean filtered water heated to 195 F. The instructions do not mention a temperature which probably indicates boiling water but I generally start just off boiling when I am not sure. The steep time of 3 minutes was provided.

I commonly use my press because I love to watch a new tea to see how the leaf reacts. This is known as the agony of the leaf. I prefer the dance of the leaf as in my mind the leaf is fulfilling all of its created purpose. This was an enthusiastic dancer, giving everything to the cup. I feel it is my duty to honor the leaf by noticing.

Upon pouring, I get a mug of deep orange tea with ruby red undertones. The scent of the wet leaf and the cup are a deep roasting and cocoa.

At this point, before I taste, I should interject that while I am a big fan of smoky tea, I am not much for dark roasted oolong like flavor. While this is a black tea it does have that heavy roasted scent. If I get less than enthusiastic it may well be because this hits a less than favorite profile for me.

Having said that, I taste, and no worries. The heavy roasted notes stay mostly in the aroma (though it seems to have found and clung to my fingers due to my insistence on playing with the wet leaf).

The taste is hearty, full, and rich. There is no bitterness. There is some sense of briskness but not heavily so. It makes me think of wood, and forest leaves. There is just a hint of smoke but it definitely leans more into a good roasted. As I sort of eluded this isn't that overbearing roasted taste that I don't like. In fact I find this nicely enjoyable.

As I generally try during reviews, I added a tiny amount of sweetener halfway through the cup. I think it brought out burnt sugar and more cocoa like notes that were less obvious before. It is tasty either way but I kind of like it sweetened just a touch more. It would probably take milk in stride if you are so inclined.

I'm now contemplating how it would taste iced, as it may hit the upper 60's outside today. That means iced tea on the porch watching the Amish buggies rolling by. I have let the cup cool to room temperature while typing and I am even more convinced this unsmoked lapsong souchang will get the porch treatment later.

You can find 3 Leaf Tea Unsmoked Lapsang Souchong here.

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