I don’t usually comment on a tea unless I am completely responsible for the brewing process. That is, I personally break the seal on a new package, scoop out a precise measurement of leaves, activate the exact time and temperature settings, and witness the entire steeping process myself. However, my wife and I had such a nice experience today at the French Market Cafe Tea Room in Cornelius, North Carolina, that I am compelled to break my rule and talk about this Mark T. Wendell Tea Company Hu-Kwa Lapsong Souchong tea that I tried. Besides, the very generous and personable proprietor, Kathy Montbleau, allowed me to observe most of the preparation by bringing the infuser pot to my table immediately after boiling.
Kathy permitted me to smell the unbrewed leaves in their package before the setup began. The dark brown leaves had a strong, but pleasant, smoky aroma. There also was a light sweetness to the smell that I hadn’t experienced before in smoky teas.
I watched the steeping brew become a dark liquor for five minutes. The odor was pleasingly smoky and sweet. The color was similar to dark molasses with a golden aura around the sides of my cup, like a dark sunrise.
The flavor was nothing short of splendid. It was marvelously smoky, sweet, and smooth. Kathy brought my wife and I an ample pot to share. Fortunately, my wife does not care for smoky teas so I was able to enjoy it all to the last drop. Even the aftertaste was stunningly mild and gentle. Astringency was completly nonexistent.
This just might be the BEST smoky tea I’ve ever had. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the tea, I GREATLY RECOMMEND Kathy who is a wonderful tearoom owner with a FANTASTIC personality and ENORMOUS generosity (she very kindly let me sample the tea without charge and gave me a large portion of unbrewed leaves to take home with me), and I PROFOUNDLY RECOMMEND the French Market Cafe Tea Room as an extremely friendly and elegant little shop to sip fine teas, munch on tasty biscuits, and let the stress of your work week blissfully slip away.
Flavors: Smoked, Smooth, Sweet