7 Tasting Notes
1st Steep: Infuser, Covered, 1 tsp – 3 minutes @ 190F
2nd Steep: Infuser, Covered, 1 tsp – 3.5 minutes @ 195F
I’ve been drinking this for a while, but I’m trying to be better about getting tasting notes in.
The first thing I noticed was a strong floral fragrance after steeping – very nice. The leaves are tightly rolled, and after steeping they are nice and unbroken – many still have both leaves connected.
The taste itself is much lighter than the scent – though with the batch I have in particular, this is probably due in large part to the age. The finish is extremely soft and pleasant – softer than most the teas I have.
This Zheng He surprised me quite a bit. The first time I steeped it I did so for 3 minutes, and it really was nothing special. The second (and subsequent times) I brewed it up, I left it steeping for 4 minutes, and upped the water temp a bit, and I swear it smells like hot chocolate. If I was blind folded I think I would have a seriously hard time telling if this was tea or cocoa. Taste wise, it’s got a typical higher quality black taste, very good – but the smell totally does it for me. A very pleasant surprise!
This is my second time making this now – the first I did Western style for 4 minutes or so. When I did it that way, the taste was actually pretty light – and I’m not sure if that’s because I got a batch that was slightly older (it was picked in 2010 so its probably been about a year now), or what. This time I did it per DTH’s instructions for Gaiwan prep, with boiling water at 30 seconds (with 1:4 tea/water ratio). Definitely more flavor this time, the smell is VERY earthy which I totally dig, but the taste is still overall not super impressive (not bad by any means, but I’m not sure it’s worth the higher price tag). I’m just drinking the 3rd steep from the Gaiwan, and it tastes better than the first, so I think this tea has a lot of potential, it’s just very difficult to open up its flavor without exact preparation.
I tried preparing this in a gaiwan today. DTH gave the suggestion of 1-2 tsps at 2-3 minutes with relatively cool water. I tried 2 minutes to start with 2 tsps, and it smelled great, but was waaay too bitter. Second steep I did 1:45 – better, but still astringent. The third steep I kept at 1:45, but at this point the bitterness was going away. At this point it tasted good, with what I could best describe as hints of vegetables (asparagus/artichoke) – not unpleasant. Next time I will go for slightly cooler water and less steep time to start, something closer to 60 seconds.
This was my first time trying a yellow tea, and overall it was enjoyable. Dragon Tea House includes instructions for preparation in a Gaiwan, but I started with a larger mug for Western style – prepared the same way I would a white tea. The tea itself smells very close to a green, and tastes very sweet and light – little astringency that I could detect. I’ve read mixed reviews about yellows, but I thought it was very tasty and makes a great cup for when you want something light. Next time I will prepare in a gaiwan and see if the taste differs.
This is my standard go-to tea right now for when I’m not in the mood for anything specific. This Golden Monkey from Teavana is your typical second-flush tippy tea from Yunnan or Fujian (in this case, Fujian), heavy in golden tips. Because of this, the astringency is very low, which makes it a perfect choice for people who don’t like a bitter tea (just be sure not to steep it for too too long) – the taste is sweet and mellow, and needs nothing added. I would definitely suggest this to people who might not normally be so keen on black teas as well. Has a very nice golden brown color when brewed – taste, smell, and appearance, just a great and relaxing tea, and a good standard choice.
This has been my absolute favorite tea since I first had a cup of it. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you appreciate something different or something with a strong flavor, this tea is for you. Lapsang Souchong is quite an experience – first you’ll notice the smell, which is very smokey, thoughts of a campfire always spring to my mind. The taste combines the flavor of black tea with bacon or other smoked meats. Because of the connection with food, I tend to drink it with a baked snack or other food. I definitely wouldn’t add anything to this tea – drink it straight for the perfect flavor. So good!
For any other fans – have you tried any brand beside Teavana? I bought a large canister of it from there and have just about used it up – now I’m looking for another place buy from to compare. I have heard some places don’t use the authentic process of roasting though, I want to stay away from flavor-by-chemicals stuff.
Enjoyingtea.com does carry this tea. While I have not had this tea from them, I can say that everything I have had from them is definitely fresh and fine tasting.
If you liked Teavana’s Lapsang Souchong, there are a few others you might like to try. Twinings has a pretty decent and consistent loose leaf, that is heavy on the smokey side. Adagio Teas has a slightly milder version, and there are more than a dozen brands reviewed now on Steepster.
You also might like to try Russian Caravan tea, which is traditionally made with a blend of Oolong, Keemun and Lapsang Souchong teas. (Twingings, Upton and Mark T. Wendell make nice versions) EnjoyingTea.com has a Russian Caravan which is a blend of lapsang souchong with assam black tea — a rather nice combination of lightly smokey and nicely malty flavors.
Yeah – I’ve heard good things about Russian Caravan before, I definitely want to give it a try sometime soon – I’m curious to see how that combination of tastes sounds. Thanks for the sources too, I’ll be sure to check them out!
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